Young rider advancing at a canter

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Amanda Voice was born in the saddle.

The 14-year-old from Ranfurly was riding from the moment she could and started competing in Western performance events when she was just 8-years-old.

She started riding on a pony her mother, Rose, had rescued, before jumping up to a 15.2 hands high Appaloosa.

Now, six years on, she has been nominated for the American Quarter Horse Association New Zealand (AQHA-NZ) youth development programme.

Her partner in crime is 7-year-old quarter horse No Visible Clu, better known as Wade.

Amanda said being a part of the youth programme meant she was eligible for selection for the New Zealand team that will compete at the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup in Texas in 2018.

It also means she is eligible for selection in the New Zealand youth team to compete in the transtasman challenge in Australia next year.

Amanda said she first heard about the youth programme last year, so she and Mrs Voice began looking into how she could get involved.

After winning the National Junior Youth Trophy and the National Games Trophy, and being runner-up in Senior Performance Horse and receiving a place on the honour roll of the New Zealand Western Riding Federation for youth performance, she was nominated for the youth programme.

There was only one big challenge Amanda faced in being involved with the programme: all the training camps were held in the North Island.

That meant Wade would not make the trip up to the camps.

Amanda has had Wade since she was 10 and over the past four years they have developed a hard-working relationship.

Her goal was to make the New Zealand team and compete at transtasman and world competitions, she said.

“I want to be able to ride any horse.”

Western riding required large amounts of discipline and technique and there was a strong etiquette in the show ring.

Western-trained horses moved to the slightest body movement or tiny rein adjustment, so being able to ride any horse was a good challenge, Amanda said.

She Taupo taking part in the first of four training camps, where she gained “good experience” riding other horses.

As part of the programme, she will also have to compete with Wade at the national show in Hawera in February.

Later this year, they will also compete in the Western section at the Canterbury A&P Show, which is the first show for the season.

“I just want to form a really healthy relationship with him,” she said.

“He knows as soon as we go into the show ring, it’s business time.”

As part of her club, the Otago Western Riding Club, Amanda was also working with some of the younger riders, to give something back.

Mrs Voice said while all of it appeared a huge ask for a girl from a small rural area, she and husband Nigel were extremely proud of Amanda.

“She is a skilled and committed rider. We would not be supporting her if she was not 100% committed to this goal. She lives and breathes it.”

Amanda said she was fundraising all the time for her goal, with raffles around the district.

When not in the saddle, Amanda picks up a hockey stick and heads for the turf.

Last year, she was named Most Valuable Player for the under-13 Central Otago hockey team.

Amanda said she had not spent any time on the turf this season, as she had been hobbling around on crutches since an injury at the end of last year.