By Rebecca Harper
Auckland-based equine vet Dr Liv Glen has had a passion for horses since she was young, and now juggles her busy work commitments with breeding and competing show jumpers.
Liv works for the Auckland Vet Centre, one of nine veterinary practices in New Zealand and Australia with a shareholding in Caledonian Holdings veterinary pharmaceuticals.
Caledonian Holdings is the sponsor of the popular Amateur Rider Series and the company group has a major equine focus, offering a range of animal remedies, equipment and devices for veterinarians.
Having been unsuccessful in her first attempt to get into vet school, Liv went on to study a Bachelor of Animal Science and then complete her Masters degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics. She worked for a while, but discovered the desire to be a vet had never left her and returned to Massey University to study, graduating in 2014.
She was lucky enough to get the job at Auckland Vets straight after graduating and has always specialised in equine, though she does work with some sheep and beef animals, predominantly on lifestyle blocks.
“I have a passion for horses and have always been involved with them, probably before I could walk. It (the vet work) is very fulfilling, there are bad days but there are a lot more good days. It’s great to work outside, every day is different.”
Liv’s mum show jumped in England before marrying Liv’s father and moving to New Zealand. Her father played polo and was involved in the management side of New Zealand polo – growing up, horses were always around.
“I started riding when I was two or three, mainly show jumping and a little bit of showhunter.”
She currently has three homebred mares in work and jumped in some Amateur Series classes during the season. She hopes to jump in the Pro-Amateur classes next season.
She rates Quickstar, a little homebred horse she produced and jumped to 1* Grand Prix level, as the best she has had so far, but feels she has several at the moment that could also go to that level.
Breeding and producing her own horses has been a rewarding process. “With the young ones every little improvement is nice.”
Her mother breeds horses, though she has scaled back the breeding in recent years and currently she and Liv have just one mare in foal.
It all started with two base mares, the full sister to John Cottle’s well performed Telegraph, and a Thoroughbred mare. Both were crossed with Warmbloods.
“They have always been nice horses we have bred. To go out and buy horses of the same quality, I couldn’t afford that.
“We try to use what we can from overseas with semen and I still think it’s very important to use good mares.”
The ability to bring in good bloodlines through advances like frozen semen and now with more people importing good quality stallions, it means the opportunity to breed well is there, in New Zealand, Liv says.
While work commitments, including weekends on call, can make getting to shows difficult, Liv still enjoys competing and hopes to get to more shows next season.
“I just enjoy breeding and producing them, and if they can get up to jumping Grand Prix level that would be nice. But it’s hard with work and it’s time in the ring as much as anything, and riding enough horses that it becomes second nature.”
She enjoyed jumping in some of the Caledonian Holdings Amateur Rider classes last season and says the quality of the class has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. “It’s really competitive now and a good class to ride in, as everyone is encouraging and helping everyone else, and supporting whoever wins.”