A Day in the Life of Catherine Ferguson
Catherine Ferguson is known as many things – a loving wife, a caring mother, a resilient professional. But ask her inner circle and they will tell you that she is also a passionate equestrian. Hailing from a friendly, farm town of Harwood, New South Wales, Catherine has always had a knack for horse riding and started Endurance Racing a decade ago.
As an equestrian, Catherine’s calendar is a busy one, filled with relentless hours training for competitions. Often a regular weekend in the Ferguson household constitutes a trip to Endurance ride with a cheerful family of five on their NPR 65-190 that tows a gooseneck carrying three horses.
As Isuzu Truck of the Year competition’s August month winner, Catherine chats to us about horse riding, her trusty transport and active lifestyle.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
We live in Harwood which is a rural village, surrounded by sugar cane. My husband and I have three kids, two girls and a boy. My husband is an Ambulance officer and I work at the local Court House. Our family has seven horses and we regularly compete in endurance rides. We own and manage a cane farm too which also keeps us busy.
What brought you to the world of horse riding and Endurance Racing?
I started riding horses at about five years old. My older sister and I went to Pony Club and competed in shows growing up. I’ve always had horses but it wasn’t until I met a neighbour, Jane, who inspired my journey to Endurance racing. My 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old daughter join me too since they have taken up horse riding quite seriously. So, it’s almost like a full-time job (laughs).
Can you tell us a bit more about Endurance riding and what you do?
Endurance rides vary between 20km, 40km, 80km and 160km horse rides. Horses are presented to vets, before the-ride and at various stages during the ride to ensure they are fit to continue. The pinnacle of Endurance is to complete the “Tom Quilty” which is a 160km ride in 24 hrs. I successfully completed the 50th Tom Quilty in 2016. My 15-year-old daughter recently completed her first 160km ride and my 11-year-old is preparing for her first 80km ride.
Sounds intense! What does a regular day look like for you?
A few days a week my daughters and I wake up early to train before work and school. If I’m not riding I’m running, cycling or swimming before work. After work I’m picking kids up from sport and we all work together when we get home to feed the animals. After animals are fed and horses rugged it’s time to cook dinner and homework.
What is your experience of transporting horses like?
We always had a float and a Landcruiser and I’ve been towing the horses for years but have always wanted a gooseneck. I knew that we needed a truck or something more powerful to pull it legally and that is why we put if off. We looked around at different options and finally decided on the Isuzu. We needed something powerful enough, easy to drive with room for the five of us and a couple of dogs. The truck easily tows the gooseneck, it feels very stable. It has exhaust brakes on it, which makes it very convenient when driving downhill, without having to use the brakes all the time. Even when it’s wet and boggy the truck seems to handle those conditions really well. The cruise control makes driving more relaxed on our long trips.
Have you faced any challenges with transportation?
My first and only challenge was to be able to drive it! I only had a basic licence and had to obtain a light rigid licence. But getting my licence was easy. I drove the first weekend I got my license and I was a bit nervous because I’d never really driven a truck on my own before let alone pulling three horses behind it. My girls and I, three horses and two dogs travelled the eight hour return trip and it turned out a great weekend and had no problems handling the truck.
What kind of customisation did you do on the Isuzu to tow a gooseneck?
We own an NPR 65-190, seven-seater dual cab truck that fits all of us in. We got a heavy-duty aluminium tray and storage box made up to carry horse feed. We also do triathlons, so we got the box made so that we can sit our bikes in it if we need to. The tray has other accessories such as a towbar, reversing camera and gooseneck hitch. We also had a bull bar, cruise control and driving lights fitted to the truck.
What do you like about your truck so far?
I love that it’s able to be used as a dual-purpose vehicle and it’s easy to drive. I use it to tow the horses one day and drop the kids off to school the next. It’s quite hilly to get to some of the rides but that’s been no issue at all. The truck pulls the gooseneck with ease over the hills. As a first timer, driving a truck, I feel confident driving it. As the Isuzu is a seven-seater I often use it to take most of the soccer or netball team to the games on weekends! I also use it as an everyday vehicle to get to work and to run everyone about.
It was such a big decision to make that we had put off for so long, but we finally bought it, and I can’t imagine why we didn’t do this earlier. We bought the truck in April 2018 and I’ve driven it since then. As someone with no prior truck driving experience, I can’t believe that I drive a truck now but that’s what is so great about it – it’s so easy to drive.