Best in Show

Danella BevisThe West Australian
Thea and daughter Alix.
Camera IconThea and daughter Alix. Credit: The West Australian

When it comes to surpassing hurdles, Thea Garner has it covered.

The Wyalkatchem mother-of-three has not missed a Perth Royal Show since she first competed in the showjumping event as a six-year-old, making the 200km pilgrimage to the city from her Wheatbelt home ever since.

The feat is particularly special given that this time last year, the resilient 48-year-old was battling non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and delayed chemotherapy treatment by two days so she could see her two daughters Teegan, 21, and Alix, 19, compete in the arena.

The Garner family, including Thea's husband Myles and son Gavin, 17, also run sheep and a 4000ha cropping program alongside their horses on the family's Wyalkatchem farm.

After being diagnosed in May 2013, Thea said the horses provided much-needed comfort during her six months of chemotherapy treatment, even though she was initially told by doctors not to have contact with animals.

"When I was first told that I just burst into tears, because your immune system is so low you can pick up bugs very easily, but we were careful and I was able to be near them and help the girls when they needed help," she said.

"I was at the show last year, although I was bald and in the middle of treatment.

"I don't think we've missed a show, even when I was pregnant with my first child, I was still jumping here."

Now in remission, Thea is back in the stables at the show once again, helping Alix to prepare for her showjumping events.

While it is evident Alix has inherited her mother's love for horses and competing, Alix said she had also drawn inspiration from her mother's strength and optimism.

"You look back on it and she was always there, she never let it affect us at all and she was really strong in that way and it was definitely really inspirational," she said.

"Especially on long trips, even if we did all the driving she'd still be there, she's always there. It's nice to be able to go out there (to compete) and if I'm unsure of something I can ask mum and she's either been there, done that or she knows someone who has and so she can figure it out for me. In that way I'm really lucky."

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