Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kai wins pony of the year

So something awesome has happened! My wild ponies are great, but someone has definitely one upped me, and I'm not the least bit upset by it.A Kaimanawa pony, has just won the prestigious Pony of the Year showjumping title.

story here
and here

This is the biggest title, a pony in this country can have!

I'm not sure exactly what the details of the pony are, if its part bred, or when it came out of the wild. But regardless, awesome achievement.

The girl is actually local to me,although i don't know her personally, living in the scheme of things just up the road. Her trainers, are sisters i grew up competing against, and are good old fashioned tough, kiwi girls, who have produced many ponies to the top level of showjumping. In fact one sister won the same title two years previously. Awesome girls, that i have a lot of respect for, the trainers, and full credit to the girl and her pony to.

It also goes to show something else, Kaimanawa's are incredibly versatile and more than just bush ponies, but also training is far more important than breeding and talent.

Most horses are far more talented than we realise, its usually only training, heart and dedication that separate the top echelon from the everyday achievers.

My first boss, always inspired me, these quirky looking horses would turn up at the stables, not only not looking anything special, but usually with some story of previous failures behind them, a few months later they would be bordering on advanced dressage training  and look like super stars. At the time his Grand Prix horse, was one he'd seen running a muck with another rider when he was judging a test... it won multiple national champions and Horse of the Year titles. Then he had another one that no one else could ride, pressure cooked with another rider and it went grand prix also, another one that had at one stage been a rescue horse and in the paddock looked like a white giraffe. The same man now has a Clydesdale competing at grand was never about the horse it was about the training you put in, i still have huge respect for this man, still train with him, and am eternally happy for the opportunity i got to learn from him.

These sisters that also live nearby me, they are well known for picking up horses people write off, and taking them to the top in the showjumping ring. Some of these wouldn't be any better or anymore tame than something that came off the ranges.

I have always had oddball horses, as a kid i never thought about it, i didn't know enough about horse breeds to know if they were supposed to be good or not. in fact one of the first ponies i trained was a 'wild one' a herd of welsh ponies had bred and run wild over a farm for over thirty years, i got the last filly before they were round up and sold off. this filly taught me alot. she was tiny 11-12hh so all her jumping i taught on a lunge line 'cos i was to big to ride her, thinking back she had every conformational flaw under the sun, i didn't know that, neither did she. over a couple months i just used to jump her/ and the Shetland pony, over everything i could find, and through every type of jumping exercise i could think of. Both these ponies ended up being able to soar over jumps that were a good few inches higher than themselves. They were n't miracle ponies, they just learnt to jump and i slowly over a long period of time made the jumps bigger and bigger, no one said they couldn't. i have never had the time since to put in the hours i did with these ponies, where literally every day after school i rush home and think of new creations and exercises for these ponies. My brother ended up riding the little 'wild one' who we named Missy Mischief and took her to a show where she won the high jump, and was the smallest horse there by a long shot.

Something that does bother me these days, is that there is hundreds of horses are bred, to create sport horses, amateurs are breeding more & more horses. Mean while, there are thousands of races horses, wild horses etc etc going to slaughter/waste because there is now nowhere for them. these are still good horses and good for about what 95% of riders want and can do, and they cost a fraction of the price. back in the day our entire Olympic teams used to come from the race track.  Its not the breeding that makes horses amazing its the person putting in the hours of training behind the scenes.

Go Tegan and her pony Watch Me Move,  proving that the wild horses are every bit as good as anything else and more! Awesome achievement!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The photo i really wanted to show you all

Okay, so this was the image i really wanted to show everyone, but i had to wait to buy it off the photographer and for it to arrive. This was at the wild mares first training horse trials, so because different levels are called different things, in different countries, to make it clear she jumping 95cm, although it could have been 120cm and she still would have cleared it.

Since then she has had one more show at this level, and again went beautifully, except this time instead of the beautiful blue sky like in the picture above, we have constant rain, and the slipperiest ground conditions I've ever ridden on. It literally felt like my horses were on roller skates they were sliding so much. I being the one on top of this unstable horse flesh was a wee bit nervous, especially as fern is known as being a wee but clumsy on the farm, but the little wild mare wasn't to fussed, somehow managing to get around the showjumping, and slowly but surely making it around the boggy cross country course, even managing a gallop at one stage before cruising around in a comfortable canter. I think everyone knows the children tale of the tortoise and the hare, well Fern is the tortoise, never falters, never spooks at a jumps, never speeds, never wastes energy, yet she's incredibly careful and hates to touch anything with her feet, this makes her one of the easiest as well as one of the most fun eventing horses Ive ever produced.
The other young horse I'm producing at the moment, not a wild one, is the hare, shes like riding a stick insect on cocaine,fine boned and narrow, bold and quick, she likes to jump but wiggles and weaves before pinging over the jumps at the last second, if you can get her in line with a jumps that's great no problem, but steering a straight line at the same speed is about as easy as flying a lead balloon. Fern's stout build, smooth paces and dependability, make her a dream compared to this one.
the other nice thing about Fern, is that really I'm just competing her for my own satisfaction, not to win the Olympics, not to sell on, or to produce for someone else, shes just for me to have fun on, and this makes it all the more enjoyable. doesn't mean i don't want to win on her (I'm a very competitive person), just everything she does is a an achievement, because she comes from nothing,  so its all the more satisfying when she achieve something.

Also i love the fact that people always come up and say they never thought she would be anything, anyone who saw her when she first arrived and rolled their eyes at my little project ponies, is now congratulating me on how nice they turned out! Secretly i really like betting on the underdog, and proving people wrong, and with the wild horses i was doing just that, although even i didn't think i would get something as remarkable as this little mare..