NZL-Louise Duncan with Showcase BC. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Paralympian hopeful Louise Duncan is all about seizing the day. The hairdresser from Levin is chasing down a last minute berth for the Paris Paralympic Games aboard Showcase BC at the Leader Equine Dressage Spectacular at Boneo Park near Melbourne this week. She is competing in the paralympic qualifier CPEDI 3* Grade IV.

“This whole trip has been a bit of an off the cuff journey,” she says. Her partnership with Showcase BC is relatively new and hasn’t been without its challenges.

She felt she had a little unfinished business after COVID scuppered her plans to make the Tokyo Olympic Games, so last years started to look for an LA Games prospect. “I realised my Chemistry horse was growing too big for me to produce so mum and I went to Auckland to look at a horse.”

That didn’t pan out but she stopped for a coffee with Chris Beach who she had bought Wolkenstein BC from 11 years ago. Chris offered Louise a ride on Wolkenstein’s brother Showcase BC. She had loved him as a foal. “He’s 15.3hh and a little pocket rocket,” she says. “He always tries to please you 101% – sometimes a little over the top, but I loved the ride.”

Behind the scenes, Chris and her mum Frankie Webb were ‘talking’ and the horse was sold to the family, however both Louise and Showcase BC have had injuries or illnesses over the past 10 months. “It wasn’t a promising start but once we both got our health sorted, we really got it together working with Mum, Andrea Raves and Cooper Oborn.”

Their efforts in competition arenas in the build-up have been impressive, winning the Central Districts Para Championship on their first outing, were reserve at Waikato and Northern Hawke’s Bay, and won the Land Rover Horse of the Year Grade IV. “That was the biggest grade so I was thrilled to take out the title there.” They backed that up with victory at Nationals and suddenly the landscape was looking very promising.

“We never really had plans for Paris but then I was given a nudge that I should consider it. I kept it in the back of my mind but was told New Zealand wasn’t guaranteed a spot.”
That all changed when she found out New Zealand did have a spot and the 11th hour organising kicked into top gear.

“He has travelled well and was a star in the arena familiarisation,” says Louise. “It would be an incredible experience to get selected for Paris but if at the end of the day New Zealand elects not to send someone or I don’t qualify, I have gained huge experience from the journey. It’s experience I could share with any future para equestrians working towards international competition.”

To put herself in the picture, Louise needs to crack 74% from an international judge at Boneo. She and Showcase will do their Test A on Friday, Test B on Saturday and Freestyle on Sunday.

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By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ