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  • Writer's pictureShow Circuit Magazine

Ring One in the Showing Section Shines at Horse of the Year

Titles were handed out for the Paced and Mannered horse classes in four sections at Horse of the Year Show in Hastings today – Riding Horse, Park Hack, Saddle Hunter and Hack.


Rotorua’s Kelly Sheely was thrilled, if somewhat surprised, to take out the Paced and Mannered Riding Horse of the Year title on To The Max after only recently taking over the ride from her mother, Mary. Mary owns the horse but handed the ride to her daughter after being side-lined by a mountain biking injury. It was only Kelly’s fourth show competing the horse, and she was not expecting to take the title. “I went in thinking I had nothing to lose, and it would be nice to get around – it was quite a shock to win it,” she said. “It is something you want to win for a long, long time. I’ve done that class a lot of times on other horses and to have no expectations and win it was quite special.” Kelly’s mum was on hand to witness the win, as well as her sister in law and niece, who flew down. “Mum was in tears, and she couldn’t believe it.” To The Max is 10 and is an ex-racehorse from Hong Kong, this is his third showing season. “He’s done a bit but not a lot, and he is low mileage. He won the National Riding Horse title in his first season, but has had no more title wins until today.”


In the Paced and Mannered Park Hack of the Year the trip up from Leeston, Christchurch, paid dividends for Courtney Walker and Bewitched of Flaxmill. The horse is owned by Stephanie Wendelken, and it was her first trip to HOY, and the first title for Courtney. “I have been runner-up, but this is a first, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.” The horse can be a little tricky, and Stephanie asked Courtney to help her out back in October. Since then, the combination has gone from strength to strength. “This is her best season to date, and I was going to be happy with top three, ideally. We like to come and do well. She won her lead up class this morning so I had high hopes,” Courtney said. Courtney is a fulltime rider and has the stud, Wembleybrook Sport Horses, along with her parents. Stephanie was over the moon with the success. “She probably won’t stop shaking all day,” Courtney added. “We’re very proud mums.” Bewitched of Flaxmill, otherwise known as Phoebe or ‘the little princess’ was bred by Ben Thomson and Stephanie purchased her last year. “She’s an exceptional jumper. She travelled up so well, and she was rather spritely, so her schooling sessions this week have been jumping.” Courtney will be in action again later in the show in the Saddle Hunter of the Year class with her homebred stallion, Wembleybrook By Design, who also travelled up from the South Island. The stallion also won his lead up class today, giving Courtney a trifecta of wins from three classes entered for the day.


Avante Garde took out the Paced and Mannered Saddle Hunter Horse of the Year title for the third year running today. Ridden and owned by Greg Smith from Drury, Auckland, the horse was piloted to his two previous title victories by Corey Miln. Greg and Corey run GC Equestrian, a livery and training facility. “Corey has ridden him, but he has other horses, and I thought I’d take my horse back,” Greg said with a grin. The combination also competes at Level 7 dressage and on Tuesday Greg won Senior Rider of the Year with the 18-year-old horse. “There was just a bit of pressure trying to get the Paced and Mannered title since Corey had won it twice in a row. I was nervous, but I was hoping for first or second, I was stoked to win. “I did dressage this morning, and it didn’t quite go to plan, so it was nice to get this one.”


It was an ecstatic Julie Wylie-Parkinson and Sparkling Galaxy who rode off with the Paced and Mannered Hack of the Year title. Based in Te Horo, Julie and the stunning warmblood have won many titles, and she says this will be his final year showing, the pair have nothing left to prove now. “I might go jumping. He hunts as well, and he can be tricky” she replies when asked what’s next for the horse. Julie says she’s broken nearly every bone imaginable – elbow, foot, ribs, nose – but she knew he was something special and worth persevering with. Watching him in the ring today, he looked like butter wouldn’t melt. “You just don’t know here (at HOY), but I knew he had done a good workout. I’m just delighted,” she said after the win. The pair have also competed in dressage at HOY and will contest the Hack of the Year title class later in the show. She wished to thank trainers Kallista Field, Hannah Frost and Louise Ayres. Special mention of the class goes to Rebecca Rowlands riding Citizen. Despite completely losing one stirrup and riding almost the entire workout minus that stirrup, she put in an impressive performance to finish a creditable fourth place.

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