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Richard Chapman, vet and ACTERA life member, in his element

Dr Richard Chapman, veterinarian and Honorary Life Member of the ACT Endurance Riders' Association Inc., passed away in Canberra on Sunday 14 May 2017 after a battle with cancer.

Richard graduated from Bristol University in England in 1958, came to Australia in the early 1960s and settled at Canberra in the mid-1970s.

During the 1970s, Richard became involved with endurance riding, still a relatively new sport in Australia. He had a major part in establishing the sport in the ACT.

Richard officiated as head vet at the National Capital ("Brookvale'') Endurance Ride from its inception in 1982 until the early 1990s: his fee for the weekend was a bottle of good double-malt Scotch. In addition to vetting at the local endurance ride and training ride, which in the early years were run separately, he conducted training courses and examinations for aspiring TPR Stewards and spoke at seminars held by the ACTERA for the benefit of new riders. For many endurance riders in Canberra and the surrounding district, he was also their local vet.

Over many years, Richard was part of the veterinary team for several other rides in the local area and elsewhere in the Snowy Zone, including at Tumut where he sometimes took the opportunity to do some trout fishing with friend and fellow-vet Jervis Hayes. He was also a member of the veterinary panel for the Quilty. As well as being a popular and highly-respected vet, Richard was one of the great characters of the sport.

In 1986, ACTERA presented Richard with a mounted buckle, the plaque for which is inscribed "Presented to RICHARD CHAPMAN B.V.Sc., M.R.C.V.S. IN APPRECIATION FROM A.C.T.E.R.A. FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND SERVICES TO ENDURANCE RIDING IN THE A.C.T." In 1992, he was made an Honorary Life Member in recognition of his ongoing support for the club and the sport. In 2012, Richard attended the 30th Anniversary Ride reunion at Brookvale, where he caught up with several participants in the original ride as well as with other early riders.

Richard will be remembered for his unfailing friendliness and good humour; his practical, common-sense advice; his willingness to use alternative therapies alongside more traditional veterinary medicine; and for his wealth of jokes and anecdotes, delivered in an impeccable English accent. Much of his experience with horses, cats and dogs, accumulated during nearly 60 years as a practicing veterinarian, has been captured in his book "Do I Call the Vet? and what to do in the meantime", written in 2015.

Although unwell for much of the last two years, Richard continued to practice almost to the end of his life. Only a few weeks before his death, a former endurance rider who had first met Richard in the early 1980s came to Canberra to consult him about a lameness problem in her current horse. The consultation was followed by a couple of hours reminiscing together about the early days of endurance riding, an opportunity that the rider now cherishes.

Rest in peace, Richard. You were a legend and we won't forget you.

Richard Chapman, vet and ACTERA life member, in typical pose

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18 June 2017