Wendi Williamson is continuing to fly the New Zealand dressage flag on a journey she hopes can end at next year’s World Equestrian Games. The road to Tryon in North Carolina is a long and winding one, but the 46-year-old geologist from Auckland will make it easily, if commitment and determination are the principal prerequisites.
By the time she arrived at the UK Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show in Cheshire this week, Wendi estimated she had completed around 200 hours of travelling since leaving New Zealand on March 1.
That journey has included appearances at the World Cup final in Omaha, at Hagen, Germany, Royal Windsor, Bolesworth and then Hartpury in Gloucestershire. She plans on heading back home and hopes to return early next year to do it all again.
Riding Dejavu MH, Wendi delivered a highly-competitive Grand Prix performance at Bolesworth, where rival competitors included Carl Hester, Michael Eilberg and Gareth Hughes.
She describes her time spent overseas as a rich learning experience. “It’s massive for me in terms of being able to do this,” she says. “The biggest things I am lucky about are my husband, who is so supportive and loves the horses, and secondly, my job with Tonkin & Taylor [an environmental and engineering consulting company] and how helpful they have been to help enable me to do this.
“I can’t do it without the support I get. It is very expensive, which is why I work full-time. You have to want to really do it and give that commitment, and I feel that if I didn’t keep challenging myself, then I don’t know if I would do it.
“Coming here was a massive challenge, but it has been unbelievable. We think we have done nearly 200 hours of travelling since we left home on March 1. We’ve been to the UK, to America and back, to Germany and back, and now we are here for Bolesworth and Hartpury and then we are going home.
“We went to Germany and we saw a lot of interest from the general public, and here as well. Carl and Charlotte draw a lot of attention to the sport – they do a fantastic job as ambassadors for dressage.
“I am hoping to get to the Worlds. The experience over here has been amazing and has given us lots to take home with us, and the plan is to come back over next year. It would be a career dream to get to the World Games. I would love to go, and now to go back to New Zealand and share my experiences of over here will be great.”
Well done Wendi and Dejavu MH. The pair were first to go in a field of 17 in the Grand Prix (CDI3*), scoring 68.74% to finish in 6th place. The class was was won by Carl Hester on Barolo (by Breitling) on 74.24%. Gareth Hughes was second on Don Carissimo (by Don Crusador) on a score of 79.920%, with Gillian Davison on Alfranco (by Negro) third on 70.380%.
Charlotte Dujardin won the Inter I Freestyle on Hawkins Delicato on a score of 74.75%.
Uthopia also made a welcomed appearance in a demonstration at the event, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin. The 16-year-old horse hasn’t been out since January 2016 because of a long and involved ownership dispute which resulted in him going up for auction. The new owner wishes to remain anonymous and has left the horse with Carl Hester and Charlotte. He performed very well in his demonstration, apparently loving being back in the limelight.