Perfection is always the goal for 16-year-old Kaitlin Brown and Tawa and it paid big dividends for the Wairoa combination who raced off with the Sure Grip Mats Show Hunter Pony Rider Equitation Series.
“It is really special to win this,” says Kaitlin. “Equitation is especially important to me as it shows the strength as a rider. It has always been important to me to try to be a good rider because I have such an amazing horse . . . I do love him.”
She has had the flea-bitten grey for three years and he had done well with his previous rider too. “He reflects his colour actually and is a bit of an old man. He loves to lick people and is a really sweet pony. He listens well and learns quickly, which is great.”
The combination finished the season with a perfect score. “I have seen a few riders achieve perfect scores coming into the series finals before and wanted to do it myself . . . but I never thought I would get it so fast. It is an amazing feeling,” she said.
“There have definitely been a few faults in my riding over the season but luckily not in my equitation rounds!”
Their best result was victory at Masterton in March. “I felt like I did a really good round and as it was meant to be the last show before the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show it made me feel confident of what I could achieve. It was such a shame about HOY (being cancelled) but it had to happen.”
Kaitlin is trained by Gail Goodwin for show hunter with some recent input from Ike Baker. She has a keen eye for preparation. “I think I am good at planning ahead and that is important in equitation – to be independent in your thinking. You need to do a course that you think the judge would like rather than be influenced by what other riders are doing.”
And that is why Kaitlin prefers to be the first one out when it comes to competition.
She attends Iona College in Havelock North, coming home at the weekends to ride or head to shows. The family live on a 9000-hectare station which is brilliant for his fitness. “He loves farm rides, especially when he hasn’t been out on it for a few weeks.”
The combination is already looking forwards to next season – their final one together – with plans of even better results than the rather challenging 2020-2021 season.
Sure Grip Mats Pony Equitation Series: Kaitlin Brown (Wairoa) 79 points 1, Lauren Mitchell (Kumeu) 64 points 2, Zara von Dadelszen (Waipukurau) 52 points 3, Harriet Baker (Gore) 44 points 4, Lyzz Barry (Wanganui) 40 points 5, Wiremu Priest (Rotorua) 37 points 6.
Sure Grip Mats Pony Equitation Series Grand Final Class: Kaitlin Brown (Wairoa) Tawa 1, Madison Cutfield (Auckland) Hidden Warrior 2, Eilidh Gloyn (Feilding) Bombay Sapphire II 3, Poppy Tatham (Masterton) Wembleybrook O’Driscoll 4, Zara von Dadelszen (Waipukurau) Star Waka 5.