Lynda Clark says she is humbled and honoured to take up the appointment as new chair of the ESNZ board.

The Canterbury-based businesswoman has long been involved with many aspects of equestrian and through dressage has spent three years on the ESNZ board, been on the Dressage New Zealand board since 2012 and chair for three.

But now, she has stepped into her next roles, which include being vice president to Richard Sunderland and chair of the ESNZ board. “I have really appreciated the great people who sit around that board table,” says Lynda. “When I was approached I saw it as a privilege to be involved at this level in equestrian in New Zealand. This is an area I felt I could contribute to, work with a strong team and provide some positive influence in the space.”

Lynda is an experienced manager, presenter, facilitator, lecturer and coach with a background in the Dairy Women’s Network, dairy sector organisations, tertiary agricultural education and dairy industry training.

She is passionate about helping people get the most out of whatever they do. “I have a passion for growing great individuals through providing tools and support for them to be the very best they can be.”

Lynda has done a lot of work in the farmer wellbeing space throughout New Zealand with significant focus recently with rural support trusts in the South Island. She also works as an Mycoplasma bovis facilitator working to support farmers.

She is looking forward to her next level involvement with the ESNZ board. “I must acknowledge the leadership of (outgoing chair) Nick (Pyke) and the work done under him. He made a big impact and particularly around values and culture,” she says. “But we still have work ahead of us. For me it is about what we do as a sport and how we do it at all levels. Our role is to support our stakeholders to be the very best they can be – growing great people at all levels, from high performance to grass roots, the team at the ESNZ office, the management teams who may work remotely, our disciplines, officials and volunteers.”

Lynda is clear that if the sport is not strong at discipline and area group level, then the federation has nothing. For her, there are some significant issues on the table – one is the database and the other the constitution and how to navigate through that positively.

“I always come back to a coaching model and ensuring we ‘play above the line’. There is always a way forward. We need to be clear on our purpose and ensure we act with integrity, taking ownership, being inclusive, respectful and taking responsibility. We have an exciting future ahead.”

Key too are the equine partners. “We need great horsepower and winning combinations,” she says. “They are pivotal.” The ESNZ Horsepower Programme was one way to assist with this. “As we face challenges in the agricultural sector, issues will come through to us around managing animal welfare, bio security and environmental good management.” It is an area she has huge experience in and something she is happy to share.

Lynda has ridden since she could walk, coming through the pleasure, Pony Club, trekking, small level eventing and hunting trails before discovering dressage. She has an extensive background in training too and its clearly an area she loves to be involved with. She grew up in Canterbury, before heading to the Waikato for 20-odd years and is now south again, this time in Darfield.

It was while she was in Waikato that she met the Morrinsville Te Aroha Dressage Group whose focus was to support those coming into the sport. “They were some super people who were quite inspirational.”

With a young family and after having a couple of rather significant falls including one that left her with an L1 fracture in her back, she had been looking at how to mitigate some of the risk, and dressage was the perfect answer. She was loaned a dressage horse that she subsequently bought and took through to level 4.

Lynda and Phil’s  three children were all hugely sporty, through to regional representative level, and life has always been busy with cricket, netball, basketball and hockey. Her level 4 horse has now retired and become a star at the local RDA while she has a younger horse who through injury has only been able to dabble in competition of late. But she still has riding aspirations and would dearly love to compete at Nationals one day. “It is on my bucket list,” she says. “But first, there is some other work to be done.”