The recent Land Rover Horse of the Year Show provided the perfect chance to get together people keen to be part of ESNZ’s HorsePower Programme that strives to keep the very best of horses in New Zealand ownership ensuring Kiwi riders are successful on the world stage.

It’s overseen by the HorsePower Working Group under the high performance umbrella. ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout says they are always looking to spread the word about the fun ownership can provide. “Horse ownership in New Zealand is not an entrenched part of equestrian culture as it is in Europe,” she says, “so we are continuously looking for opportunities to promote and celebrate our sport, provide networking opportunities to connect our riders, owners and potential owners.”

The HOY function saw eventing squad riders, owners, prospective owners, New Zealand Olympic Committee representation, squad sponsors, supporters and ESNZ staff all get together to celebrate and share their experiences. The bonus was having world class eventers Tim and Jonelle Price and some of their owners also in attendance.

High performance Potential Squad member Samantha Lissington says HorsePower functions are key for the future of the sport. “The development of the sport relies on us being able to provide value back to owners and sponsors,” she says. “These create unique opportunities to celebrate these people and to also give new people the experience of being involved.”

Riders also benefit through being able to “take a breath” and reflect on the excitement of the sport. “It’s something we all need to do now and then,” says Samantha.

Equestrian success is uniquely dependent on a partnership. “Only exceptional horses in combination with exceptional riders, will win on the world stage,” says Sarah. “We know our Kiwi riders have superb talent with plenty of tenacity. They’re renowned for their horsemanship and ability to identify, train and develop superstars to excel in eventing which in turn drives a market for Kiwi trained horses.”

The single biggest challenge for ESNZ high performance to stay on top of the world is retention of horsepower. “We want to ensure our riders develop, maintain and retain a team of star quality horses.”

It takes years to train and develop a star and New Zealand’s top riders each need more than a single star in their stables. “Having that provides more opportunities to win at championship level and ensures we have choice when it comes to Olympic Games and World Championships.”

Plenty of horse owners will tell you how much excitement and pride they get out of owning horses for some of New Zealand’s top riders. One of those is Pip McCarroll who is also on the HorsePower Working Group. “Ownership is a lot of fun,” she says. “The more we promote the benefits of being an owner, the more people will want to be involved.”

Anyone interested in becoming an owner, being connected with either a high performance or developing rider and being an integral part of their journey should contact Warrick Allan on [email protected]rian.org.nz .

“There’s something quite special seeing your horse being so well trained and competing at top level, and being a part of the excitement of our team,” says Sarah.

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ
28th March 2019