Budding Central Otago event riders were coached by one of New Zealand’s best this week as Waikato-based Donna Edwards-Smith held a two-day clinic to prepare the riders for their coming season.
Edwards-Smith won the Equestrian Sport New Zealand Eventing Super League this year and is 27th in world rankings. She will travel to Australia in November to contest the Adelaide International Three Day Event.
About 20 riders participated in the clinic, ranging from children on ponies through to adults on seasoned eventers, and participants travelled from as far as Dunedin and Oamaru.
There was also a group of riders on rehomed racehorses, who received a subsidised lesson under the Beyond the Barriers initiative, which aims to promote thoroughbreds as pleasure and sporthorses to give them a new life after racing.
Edwards-Smith said lessons were adapted to suit each horse and included jumping courses, changes in pace and altering the distance between each fence.
“All horses are different. We do a variety of different exercises.”
The ex-racehorses had come from different trainers and situations, she said, meaning each horse had different strengths and weaknesses.
Thoroughbreds were suited to young and amateur riders because they were quick on their feet and athletic enough to see their own way out of problems when jumping, she said.
Event organiser Liz Anderson said it was inspiring for local riders to be instructed by such a high-calibre coach. Riders would take what they had learned at the clinic and put it into practice at home, she said.