New Zealand’s dressage vet Noel Power may speak with a broad Irish brogue, but nothing makes him prouder than being part of the team for his ‘new’ homeland.
The Cambridge-based partner of the Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre has always wanted to be part of a pinnacle event, but the opportunity never really presented itself – until now. Noel originally moved to New Zealand in 1992, headed to England in 1997 and returned in 2003 to settle in New Zealand.
For around 10 years he has been Holly Leach’s vet and more latterly John Thompson’s, which is how he has come to be more involved with dressage horses.
It is a tricky time of year for him with the start of the broodmare season at home. However, now on the ground and fully immersed in the team, he is not regretting it for a minute.
“I do feel a little guilty coming here at a very busy time of year,” said Noel who is a representative on the New Zealand Equine Research Foundation. “My colleagues will be working very hard at home. They are extremely dedicated to the clinic and their clients.”
One of his main drivers behind stepping up to be part of the New Zealand team was to explore new opportunities in the equine world. “We have a very special team in Cambridge and we each bring something different to the table. Our own practice has become very sophisticated, highly specialised and cutting edge in many respects due in no small part to the calibre of veterinarians we have.”
He is always keen to meet new people within the industry who have ideas or requirements that can be implemented or explored for his practice.
“It is a little surreal – the sheer scale and size of the venue,” he says. “The number of countries, nationalities and different types and calibre of horses is just mind-blowing. The random people you meet is interesting too – it is just fascinating. This is all so outside my usual world.”
For him, the biggest highlight so far is the New Zealand team. “They all have each other’s backs and work together. It does nuance how you look at look at your own career in the Waikato – as much as we deal with the nuts and bolts of keeping horses sound all the time, there is always a much bigger picture. There is a significant amount of money involved and I think I will be even more aware of that when I go back.”
It looks like his involvement in dressage is set to continue for some time to come too, with warmbloods the most rapidly growing part of his practice.
He’ll be heading home with a new found awareness of opportunities to improve that practice. “There is always plenty of scope to continue to improve and particularly in the field of upgrading genetics and bloodlines.”
It’s all half a world away from the couple of acres he shares with Kiwi Taryn and their three daughters Reilly (5), Eilis (7) and Neeve (11).
“We don’t keep any stock ourselves: I know how much hard work that can be,” says Noel. “None of the girls are particularly into horses yet, but that may all change. Who know, maybe their old man will saddle up a horse before them!”
New Zealand dressage chef d’equipe Wendy Hamerton says they are incredibly grateful to have Noel on board. “He has taken time out of his very busy schedule to join us here. His expertise and interest in competition horses has proven invaluable and he has fitted into our team environment as though he has been with us forever.”
This is the first time New Zealand has had a dressage-specific vet at a pinnacle event.
By Diana Dobson, Team NZ media liaison