Proud owners Karie and David Thomson give their favourite horse a congratulatory pat after his dressage efforts at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Thursday 13 September. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Badminton 2017 was a dream come true for Karie and David Thomson and it has taken them on a journey they never anticipated.

It all started through their support of transporting the Kiwi horses to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. This Kiwi-American couple already had a deep love of horses and needed no encouragement . . . however, the relationship came with something special.

They were invited to Badminton where they met Sir Mark Todd and his wife Lady Carolyn, among others.

“We just fell in love with the people we met,” said Karie, a long time horsewoman who used to fox hunt in Illinois and now is a showjumper. “I was out of it for a while but have come back in with vengeance.”

But neither she nor David, who prefers station riding, understood why anyone would own a horse they weren’t actually riding. However, that all changed a few weeks after Badminton.

“Two weeks later we get a call from Mark about ‘this little horse’.” She’s talking of course about McClaren – the little bay who many are likening to the mighty Charisma. He’s an 11-year-old Holstein gelding who is by Clarimo out of Toni 1 (by Landjunge).

David picks up the story. “Mark had received offers from other people wanting to buy the horse but he was keen to keep it in the New Zealand team,” he said.

The couple did their due diligence and a deal was sealed. “We decided it was something we both loved,” said Karie, “and took the plunge.”

It’s a move they haven’t regretted for a minute and their excitement and joy at being with the New Zealand team in North Carolina at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games is palpable.

“We do have to pinch ourselves sometimes,” said Karie. “The group of people we get to associate with are a dream come true. They are all so inclusive.”

And the horse? “Mark certainly picked a good one for us,” said David. “He is lovely to be around – just a super pony.”

Karie says it just doesn’t seem real. “I am trying to be in the moment,” she said, admitting to more than a few happy tears.

“I am just really proud to help this little guy be a part of the New Zealand team,” said David. “He is just so talented . . . all the horses and riders are. We feel very lucky and it is a real privilege to be a part of it. To wear the fern is quite special.”

The couple split their time between San Francisco and Central Otago. David grew up in Lower Hutt and Karie Stateside, but she feels more association with New Zealand than the United States.

David is well used to elite team environments. A keen sailor he is also involved with Team New Zealand who hold the America’s Cup and are preparing to host the next one in Auckland.

By Diana Dobson, New Zealand team media liaison

Photo by Libby Law Photography