I’m just the same as you. An amateur rider, chasing my dreams, trying to keep my horses happy & comfortable. I’ve been riding horses since I was quite small. Living in rural New Zealand with a horse mad older sister, it was fairly inevitable. I was active at Pony Club, not particularly talented at anything, but keen to give anything a go – games, show jumping and of course eventing. The early exploits of Mark Todd loomed large, our pony club districts main grounds were on the Nicholson’s farm, and Andrew gave me a pony when he left for the U.K. to chase his own dreams.
I continued to ride throughout my teenage years and even when I moved to the city of Auckland for my first nursing job, I kept up with my riding. Shift work meant that I could fit in the hour long drive each way to see my horse, which was kept on grass only grazing on the city fringes. In return, my horses kept me sane. When the kiwi travel bug gave me itchy feet, instead of coming to London like most of my colleagues, I chose to go to the States to work as a groom in a showjumping yard in upstate New York.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m back in New Zealand, this time in the South Island as my brother had bought a farm there. I have a small block in Methven, about an hour west of Christchurch and at the foothills of the Southern Alps. I’m still nursing part time – on the local ski area, for an organisation supporting teenagers with cancer and in the A&E in Christchurch Hospital. I’m riding some homebreds, onselling ex-racehorses and helping out a local racehorse trainer with her roadwork. One of the horses through my yard I sell to a teenaged Jonelle Richards (now Price), another to a young Tim Price, a third to Darnelle Hubbard (now Price) – this one is called Flintstar and one day will end up at the London Olympics in the bronze medal team.
By this time, I’m married with one child and another on the way. I’m quite enjoying my dressage and have given up on my childhood dream of riding at Badminton and so I go looking for a horse to compete at Elementary level – a grade above the one I’ve ridden to. I fly to the North Island to try a couple and in the near dark one evening I arrive to find Gosh. The yard is one of the very few in New Zealand to have an indoor, but we can’t ride him in there because he has a world class spook and the shadows from the lights make more than two steps in a straight line impossible. He has had a couple of Elementary starts, but still graded Novice, he is nearly 10 years old and 15.3hh on his tippy toes. He is by a thoroughbred, out of a Clydesdale x Arab x Standardbred mare. Against all advice I fall in love with him.
What follows is a story of opportunity and luck and of believing in the impossible. A journey from the backblocks of rural New Zealand all the way to the Olympic selection trials at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre in Australia, a tale of a middle-aged amateur rider and a veteran crossbred horse going where they don’t belong. We didn’t quite clear the final hurdle, the fairy tale ending of riding at the Olympics wasn’t to be. That’s unfinished business for me, so watch this space.
By the time Gosh got to compete in Sydney, he was 17 years old and although he was the soundest horse I’d ever owned, he deserved some support. I’d tried every glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM & hyaluronate on the market, even importing some from the U.S. at great cost, as well as using regular pentosan injections but nothing made much of a difference. When my vets introduced me to Epiitalis, I was sceptical, but the improvement was obvious and I soon had my whole ‘team’ on it. Consequently, when I moved to the U.K. I needed to ensure a continual supply, hence the decision to bring it over.
The decision to bring in Savvy Touch products is similar. To be quite frank, I thought that there would be suitable alternatives in a market as big as this, however I was disappointed in the quality and performance of all that I came across and it wasn’t long before requests were sent home. Visitors aren’t allowed to stay without bringing Anti-Friction balm and Oddfellow peppermints – polos simply don’t make the grade! Likewise, with the other products from the Savvy Touch range we will be bringing in shortly, as well as the Hauora Manuka Honey. I love living here, but some things, New Zealand just does better.
David is the chap that you'll be chatting to or emailing or messaging. David would far rather be selling you champagne than equine health products and in fact spent some 10 years doing just that, most recently for Laurent-Perrier champagne. Unfortunately, due to some visa agents dodgy dealings and the over zealous actions of a Home Office more interested in meeting targets than assessing applicants validity we were all targeted by the 'Go Home' buses and were subjected to the Hostile Environment, meaning he lost his job. As it happened to coincide with a new direction for Fenlandz Health, the fact that in 17 years of being married to Shiwon he has learned a lot more than just which end bites and which end poops and he's also rather good at managing customer relations and logistics, it hasn't been all bad. He is a capable groom, makes a brilliant coffee and actually really enjoys running the hospitality at Olympia & Badminton, but he'd still rather be drinking wine or waterskiing. He also cycles a bit (most recently from Marlow, Bucks to Tours-sur-Marne, Champagne) and running in trail races with names like 'the Terminator'.