Katie Laurie has today announced that she and her family are moving to Australia at the end of the coming show jumping season. She’ll compete here through until the Horse of the Year Show in March.
Speaking exclusively to NZ Horse & Pony magazine, Katie says the move is the next obvious step for her career, and that she and her Australian husband Jackson will buy a ‘nice-sized’ farm, possibly in the New South Wales area.
Her parents, Jeff and Vicki McVean, will remain a vital part of the business, but will stay in New Zealand. The plan is for the broodmares and youngstock to live at Whispering Oaks with the McVeans, and for the youngsters to be sent over when they are ready to start their jumping careers.
“We are kind of just expanding Whispering Oaks really,” says Katie. “New Zealand is a really good place to bring up horses and Australia is probably the next step up competition-wise with a few more [combinations] in the Grand Prix competitions. They have some really good shows at the moment. But I will definitely need Dad at the big shows, if he is not too busy here.”
Katie and Jackson haven’t yet decided exactly where they will go, but the farming area of Walcha, which is inland from Port Macquarie and about five hours from Sydney, is a possibility. The couple will head over to look at properties in a few weeks, when newborn son Royce is old enough to travel.
Katie is obviously looking forward to the move. “We are going to try to get a nice-sized farm and set up horse facilities so we can both do what we love doing. With the kids [Royce and two-year-old sister Grace] being young now, we wanted to do it before they started school because then it would be too hard to move. Jackson has grown up farming, and we are doing it for our future. It’s exciting.”
They put their property at Mystery Creek on the market and it sold on the very first day, which was unexpected to say the least! The couple will have to start packing soon, as they are due to move out in mid-December. The plan is to find a place to rent until next March, close to Katie’s parents.
As always, Katie has a strong team of horses in preparation for the coming season, and she has yet to decide which ones she will take across the Tasman.
“The Mains are really keen to take the On-the-Point horses, so that will be really great as they will be ready for some of the big classes. Eve jumped fantastic at the end of last year and Sandy is a really good horse, so that will be exciting. Hopefully the stallion Casebrook Lomond will also go, and then I will decide on the other ones.”
Katie is eyeing up the shows on in Australia after HOY, with the goal to get to the 2018 World Equestrian Games. “We will do our WEG preparation mainly from Australia.” There are no plans to spend time in the US or Canada, where Katie has briefly based herself in the past.
“I don’t really want to take horses overseas and leave them there too long. In Australia they will get to jump some bigger tracks, and then we would go [further afield] closer to the WEG competition, if we are going to make it.”
Where the next World Equestrian Games will be held is yet to be announced, after Bromont, Canada, had to withdraw due to financial difficulties. “It would be amazing if it was in Kentucky – I hope it is. I like Kentucky, because it’s a sand surface and I think our horses would like that better, but all the places they are talking about as possibilities are pretty flash.”
Katie confirms that she will continue to ride for New Zealand, and has no plans to change nationalities. She had some issues with Equestrian Sport NZ last season but says that had nothing to do with her decision to move. “They annoyed me, but we always had this move in the back of our minds anyway. So no, I am not becoming an Australian yet, unless I get really annoyed again!” she laughs.
Katie was also keen to pass on her best wishes and message of good luck to the New Zealand riders competing at the Olympics. “It will look quite funny with the British jumping team walking around the Olympic Village. Everyone will wonder what those three old ones are doing there!”
As to her tip for the jumping gold medal? “I hope McLain [Ward] does well on that nice horse HH Azur.”