AUSTRALIA’S equestrian and horse industry may not be the same if Diane Bennit didn’t choose to have a riding lesson for her eighth birthday instead of throwing a party.
Since then, the Kalamunda resident dedicated her life to equestrian sports as a competitor and coach, and to the horse industry as a commentator and administrator.
Now 77, Ms Bennit has been recognised for her service to the industry by being appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia on the Queen’s Honours List.
The new title will be added her long list of achievements and accolades, including being a baton bearer earlier this year for the Queen’s Baton Relay ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Little did Ms Bennit know that a decision as a child to ride would lead her to achieve one of the top honours.
Ms Benneit said her mother opened Springfield Riding School in Bassendean where she grew up around horses from a young age.
“It started when my mother asked me when I was eight if I wanted to have a riding lesson or a birthday party and I’m told that I said a riding lesson,” she said.
“I was terrified but I didn’t fall off the little white pony.
“It became all I ever knew, it’s all I’ve ever done and when I left school at 14 I started to coach.”
Now on the Queens’ Honours List, it seems fitting that Ms Bennit went on to gain her coaching accreditation in England at the British Horse Society.
On her return, Ms Bennit took over Springfield Riding School and trained WA Turf Club racehorses, was a Federal Equestrian Australia delegate, Equestrian WA Working Group to Grade Commentators chair, National Coaching Accreditation Scheme EWA branch chair, Australian Horse Riding Centres coaching co-ordinator, Riding for the Disabled vice chair, HorseSafe auditor, and Tafe lecturer.