A few days ago I flew 12000 miles across the continents to surprise my daughter Emma who is working in New Zealand for Katie McVean. A few weeks ago I got a lovely invitation from her father Jeff for me to come to Horse Of the Year Show here in Hastings in the south east of the North Island and after 3 days of flying and 5 hours driving I finally arrived at the showgrounds. Emma got the absolute shock of her life when she found me standing at the truck..... her jaw actually dropped she was speechless but very very happy!
I left here 23 years ago and happy to say the game has improved, this show is buzzing, the OC obviously working very hard to make New Zealand a success in the World of Showjumping. I was happy to recognise some old familiar faces at the show today and delighted that they too remembered me all these years later.
The showjumping in New Zealand is still very competitive with most riders mounted on foreign imports, some very quality animals have graced the arenas so far. All the top riders from the country are here plus some from Australia who are using this as a pre European warm up.
The big classes got off today this morning in the lovely grass ring the sun shone and layer by layer of my coats and hoodies removed i was happy to spend the day in shorts and vest! some difference to the weather i left in Ireland only days ago.
Kate didnt disappoint us today in the first big test of the show winning the Norwood Gold cup. Having 3 horses in a 12 way jump-off it was pressure all the way and hectic for the grooms! But glad to say my favourite of Kates horses won, the very handsome and scopey chesnut, Dunstan Springfield, who lead from the start with a sharp impressive round, but our 2 other horses faulted trying to outdo their stable mate!
Tonight we got a second in the next of the big classes but run under lights it caused a lot of the horses to spook both at the shadows , the lights and the paint on the grass....... Kate's flashy mare 8 yo Zehrenland jumped clear but gathered a time fault, this mare has the most incredible movement and jump, she's a stunner!
Theres a lot of difference with the European shows that we all frequent... Here the horses are kept in pens, some in the open air and most of them under a big roof, but with just gates or ropes to keep the horses seperate. I guess the horses get used to it and as herd animals they enjoy the companionship, but there's not a lot of privacy.
There are no flashy tack trunks or sponsors curtains, most of the horses wear white sheets with full hoods to protect them from sun and flies but I must say the horses are all well fed and in good order, and the hay is green and the fodder is good. Most Europeans that come here take a little adjustment to the way of things here, there's a retro feel about the whole place and it reminds me of England thirty years ago, all in a good way of course and to clarify that many folks come and never want to leave.
The other good thing is that it's a land of wine and the Kiwis love to party so the social side of the show is great with most if not all the competitors staying in the backs of their trucks on site.
We've finished work but still covered in a thick layer of dust we are celebrating our first ribbons of the show. Tomorrow is another full day for team McVean I'm going to finish my wine and let you look at the pictures i took today... Hope you get a feeling of the place, the sun and the sprii and I'll be back on with more news and more pictures in a day or so.
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