A Trip to Taupo By Bella Harvey

A Trip to Taupo By Bella Harvey

A Trip to Taupo

By Bella Harvey 

This last weekend, I was lucky enough to take my horse Fred down to the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo with some friends to compete in my first competition away from home. This was, needless to say, a big learning experience for me. I had never had to drive that far, or yard my horse for that long a period of time. I thought I’d share a bit about what I got up to, and how we ended up doing at the end of the weekend.

It was a very long trip, from Northland to Taupo. By car it’s five hours, but by horse truck it was quite a bit longer. We left home at 8:00 on Friday morning and had our first stop at a gas station in Bombay at about 11:45. Here, we stopped to have lunch and give the horses a chance to stretch their legs on the small, grassy park nearby. We then set off again, and arrived at the National Equestrian Centre around 4:00. The horses were quickly settled in and we took them for a nice hack along the bridleway opposite the facilities. Then we tucked them up in bed and went to get some dinner.

On Saturday, none of us were riding our dressage until 1:00, and I was on at 3:20, so we had a pretty easy morning. We plaited the horses and took them for walks. Fred isn’t used to being yarded for long periods of time, so I had to be very conscious of his happiness as well as his comfort. We saddled him up at 2:30 and I spent a lot of time walking him, because he was quite wound up. I think the atmosphere was a bit much for him to start with, but after ten or so minutes he was happy to walk quietly. After that he had quite a good warm up, and we rode an ok test for 58.9% (which was 41.1 penalties). 

After the dressage, we zipped back to the truck to change saddles for the showjumping. We didn’t need a huge warm up because he’d only just done dressage, so we popped a few warm up jumps and waited ringside. Fred did a nice round of showjumping, with only one rail down because I let him get too deep. After this, we took the horses back to the truck and rugged them up, making sure Fred had food and water. I gave him lots of carrots for his efforts. That night we wrapped his legs and got him ready for bed, then checked our placings. I was 18th out of 27 riders overnight, which I was happy with.

On Sunday, it was my favourite phase: cross country! It began at 8:00 in the morning with the 2*, and my class wasn’t until 2:30. This meant we had another relaxed morning. I took Fred for a nice hand graze to watch some of the first runs of the day in the morning, which he appreciated. Later in the day, we saddled up and headed off for our warm up. He felt really good, and I was looking forward to a nice cross country round. Soon enough we were in the start box and off for our run. He felt really good and we jumped a very nice clear, even going in both water jumps first try (something we have struggled with in the past!). With a clear and under time round, Fred and I climbed eight placings to finish our weekend on 10th place out of 27 combinations. Needless to say, I was a very happy girl! 

Shortly after our cross country round, we packed up our gear and loaded the horses for the journey home. We had a brief stop in Cambridge to stretch our legs and drop off a horse, then made the final leg home to Whangarei. We got home at 11:00 at night, and it was straight to bed for me, as I had school the next day! 

Overall, I felt really good about Fred and I’s first experience competing away from home. He was a very good boy for me, trying his best even when the atmosphere was a bit much for him. My hosts were good fun to stay with, and even though I was exhausted at the end of it all I could hardly be prouder of myself or my horse. I can’t wait for our next event, this time at home: the Northland Horse Trials! 

Photos courtesy of Iris Van Velsen 

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