The secret to producing New Zealand’s Eventing legends uncovered

Andrew Nicholson on Avebury winning the 2014 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials for the third year in a row. CREDIT: Libby Law COPYRIGHT: LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAPHY - NZL

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Did you ever wonder why New Zealand has such a fierce group of top Eventers? How does a small nation with a small Eventing circuit produce some of the sports biggest legends. Well we may have discovered a common thread that ties together the Kiwi Elite.

Wendy Lansdown is a former Pony Clubber from New Zealand. She is now involved in both the Pony Club and eventing scenes in New Zealand. She is also a well-respected course designer for many events there. Wendy was the team manager for the New Zealand Inter-Pacific Exchange Team, here is what she has to say about Pony Club’s influence on Eventing in her country.

Wendy Lansdown and the New Zealand Inter-Pacific Exchange Team.

Wendy Lansdown and the New Zealand Inter-Pacific Exchange Team.

 

1. How does Pony Club influence Eventing New Zealand?
Pony Club is basically the feeder for Eventing New Zealand with lots of our riders starting out in eventing and doing low-level events. Those that are passionate about eventing stay and those that want to specialize in dressage and show jumping will go and do that. Pony Club is a really good training ground for not only riders but also officials in New Zealand. Many of our top officials start out at the Pony Club level.

2. Who are your country’s most famous Pony Clubbers?
Sir Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, Andrew Nicholson, Tim and Jonelle Price. All of these riders give back to the Pony Club in New Zealand, mostly through teaching. Jock Paget is probably the only top eventer that didn’t go through the Pony Club system.

Tim Price & Wesko placed 2nd at the 2015 Rolex CCI4*.

Tim Price & Wesko placed 2nd at the 2015 Rolex CCI4*.

 

Jonelle on Classic Moet jumping into third place at the Stuttgart German Masters Indoor Derby. Photo courtesy of Kerstin Hoffmann

Jonelle on Classic Moet jumping into third place at the Stuttgart German Masters Indoor Derby. Photo courtesy of Kerstin Hoffmann

 

3. What horse breeds are most prevalent in the Pony Club in your country?
We still have a large number of Thoroughbreds. Most New Zealand kids probably ride them because they’re cheap to buy. New Zealand is breeding sporthorses because we’ve now got good genetics coming from Europe.

4. Do you have many horse/rider pairs from Pony Club who move up the grades of Eventing together?
Samantha Felton and her horse Rickerridge Peekaboo won our A-1 cup, our senior Eventing title. She then took her horse to three-star. She’s one of our performance squad members at just 24 years old. Clarke Johnstone had three nice horses that he took through to Europe.

Tayla Mason took Lucy With Diamonds through from Pony Club to three-star. She just turned 21 and has been one of our high-flying young riders.

5. Are Pony Club numbers in your country growing or declining?
Pony Club numbers have been declining in recent years. We’ve introduced center membership, which generates new membership because we’ve got more urban kids who don’t own ponies but are able to go through the system through a riding center. Numbers are generally declining because people are busy and horses are seen as expensive. We are trying to retain our older members by making it more relevant to them. For example, we’ve increased the height of our senior eventing championship to 1.10, which aligns with Eventing NZ. We’ve also increased the maximum age in Pony Club to keep our older members for longer.

 

Were you a Pony Clubber?
If so, how did your experiences contribute to your Eventing career. Email us, we would like to publish your story.

 

 

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