Jobina Kennedy knew nothing about dressage when she bought a six-year-old Anglo Arabian mare out of the classifieds section of The Border Mail in 1997.
In fact at her very first dressage lesson with Table Top coach, rider and judge Jodie Dunstan, her horse was so unmanageable she wasn't allowed to get on it.
Twenty-two years later she is being chauffeur-driven in a Porsche to a picture-perfect venue in Austria to hone her judging skills on the world's best dressage riders and horses.
Jobina, 40, of Albury has returned from a trip to Europe and the United Kingdom where she trained with top judges to complete the requirements to become an FEI 3-star judge.
Already a respected Equestrian Australia judge and rider, Jobina travelled to Fritzens, Austria for an elite event run by the famous Swarovski family.
"It was like a fairytale the whole time," she recalled.
"I felt like I was in a magical land.
"I thought the show organisers might arrange for me to be collected from my hotel in a shuttle bus but I was picked up in a Porsche and then seated in the VIP area surrounded by cabinets full of Swarovski crystals."
Jobina admits to feeling quite nervous when she learned she had to "sit in" with German 5-star judge Katrina Wuest, who is also the head of FEI judge education.
The nerves were compounded by the knowledge she was expected to demonstrate razor-sharp judgement on dressage greats including Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider, and Ingrid Klimke.
"Apart from the occasional half a mark here and there, my marks were on par with Katrina's and the comments I proposed for each movement were written down," Jobina said.
"It was the most wonderful experience - I had the opportunity to give marks of 9 and 9.5.
But it was while sitting in with another mentor the following day that Jobina experienced the moment a judge dreams of - awarding a perfect score of 10.
It was for Werth's piaffe with the beautiful Bella Rose.
"I had tears in my eyes," Jobina admitted.
"Even those who have judged at the biggest competitions in the world get emotional; they love the sport so much and they love rewarding good training and good riding.
"One judge always carries a packet of tissues with her - just in case."
The highs didn't stop there.
After attending Hartpury Dressage Festival in the UK, Jobina joined a group of judges for a much-anticipated visit to the training stables of the darlings of dressage - Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin.
Carl gave them a tour and talked about the pair's training methods and then Charlotte rode the amazing (now retired) Valegro, a horse that won 12 gold medals and is adored by dressage people across the world.
"The groom rode him in and then Charlotte hopped on and just warmed him up on a long rein," Jobina recalled.
"Then as soon as she put him in a frame, he just knew.
"They did 25 one-times changes on a circle ... Carl said if you put a month of work into him he'd be back on the British team."
For Jobina, who took her little mare Echo on a 12-year journey to Grand Prix, seeing Charlotte and Valegro dance together was a dream come true.
"Their training epitomises harmony between horse and rider," she said.
"They have taken the sport in a new direction and to a whole new level."
Jobina said it was almost impossible to describe how grateful she was to have experienced such a special trip.
"If it wasn't for Echo, none of this would have happened," she said.
"I also owe so much to my early mentors in Jodie Dunstan and Di Jenkyn who have supported me.
"Echo was an amazing horse who taught me how to train and what to feel."
It was when she retired Echo at the age of 18 that Jobina turned her hand to judging.
"I wanted to stay involved and give back to the sport," she said.
Jobina, who has been judging since 2007, said helping riders improve their training and performances kept her motivated as a judge.
"I love the sport and I love the feeling of being able to reward horses and riders going well," she said.
"It doesn't matter if it's a prep test at a local competition or top horses on the world stage."