2017: What a year!

The highs and lows of a tumultuous year for equestrian

2017 was an action-packed year with a lot of huge highlights – and some deep lows – in the equestrian world.

One of the best moments in our opinion was Andrew Nicholson finally nailing the win at Badminton Horse Trials on his ever-trusty Nereo. What made it special is that Andrew has won so many other titles in his long career, but until 2017, the title of Badminton Champion had eluded him, despite 37 completions and even more attempts! The article about his win was very popular on our website and social media and of course we covered it extensively in our magazine as well. Andrew talks about how much the win means to him, upon reflection, in our latest issue too.

Finally! A Badminton Horse Trials win for Andrew Nicholson on the champion, Nereo. Well deserved after many years. (Image: Stephen Bartholomew / Libby Law)

Clarke Johnstone’s win on the magnificent Balmoral Sensation in the Adelaide 4* event was also a very popular highlight – that’s two wins at the highest level for New Zealand eventers in 2017! You loved our coverage including loads of photos of the Kiwi riders’ efforts in Adelaide.

Clarke Johnstone, Barlmoral Sensation being congratulated by his show jumping coach Jeff McVean and groom, Lydia Beales (Image: Pegasus Communications)

Looking at the statistics from our website, our most widely-read story of the year was our tribute to the wonderful Barbara Thomson who died in February. We still miss Barbara tremendously, as of course does her family.

A very sad time for the equestrian community when Barbara Thompson passed away. This is a favourite image of Barbara and Tom, taken by close friend and colleague Jan Sutherland, who is also a regular supplier of beautiful photos to our website and magazine.

There was plenty of response to good news too, especially when in an exclusive interview, Jonelle and Tim Price announced their baby was on the way! Not only was this popular on our website, but social media also went off as it did when baby Otis arrived. It was only a few short weeks before Jonelle was back competing in four-star – at Pau where we brought you full coverage as well.

Tim Price with his little cherub Otis at Pau where Jonelle was competing  (Image: Libby Law Photography)

You also really appreciated the New Zealand stories outside the event coverage.  The Crazy Northlanders was very popular, as was our story about the efforts of Natalie Powell saving horses caught in Christchurch’s Port Hills fire.

Our near-miss galleries are always really popular.  Jasmine Sketchley did an amazing job of staying on at the Horse of the Year show and Libby Law caught it all on camera. At the Springston Trophy, Jordan Shrimpton‘s save was nothing short of amazing… and then there was Kate Roberts’ great effort at the NZPCA Eventing Championships in Whangarei.
Surely Jordan Shrimpton was a goner?  No, amazingly she recovered and went on to finish.  (Image: Pegasus Communications)
We have also brought you a number of articles on what is happening (or not) at Equestrian Sports New Zealand, digging deep into statistics, minutes, their communications and responses to our questions. One of the roles of any independent media outlet is to inform the public about issues and act as a watchdog. With the scarcity of media interested in our sport, we have a responsibility to provide an independent viewpoint on what is happening with the management of equestrian, and we take this role seriously. There needs to be critical scrutiny of the actions of the sports administrators. We are not here just to amplify the good news stories that ESNZ put out! Not all of you agree with what we publish, and are very vocal about your disagreement, but we remain committed to stories of this type.
The new membership model had a very negative impact on ESNZ income

There were a great number of you who read the story on the 70% increase for ESNZ membership in June. We also covered the financial situation ESNZ found itself in with a website story.  And more recently, we did an investigative piece on the fallout from the New Zealand show jumping tour of Australia, but this piece is not able to remain on our website while we defend ourselves against the legal action which is under way.

The Horse of the Year show is always a big event for us, as we have a huge tradestand as well as covering as many of the classes as possible with journalists and photographers on the ground. The resulting coverage of what was a wet and wild show was incredibly popular, none more so than the “Mudder of the Year” with the amazing gallery of people having fun in the vast quantities of mud at the show! The video of the dressage nearly-out-of-control ‘victory lap’ at HOY was one of the most popular videos we published to our Facebook page.
Mudder of the Year winner (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Other popular event coverage was of the NZPCA Eventing Championships, the Springston Trophy, Equidays and Equitana, Wendi Williamson and Dejavu’s efforts at the World Cup finals at Omaha, and the NZ Show jumping team in Barcelona.

Of course, our social media was very active over 2017, and we had lots of interaction with the equestrian community via Facebook, Twitter (@NZHorseandPony) and Instagram (@horseandponymag). Your favourite posts on our Facebook page were those involving Queen Elizabeth II out riding her horses. While the fact that she doesn’t wear a helmet wasn’t lost on many, most seemed to be able to forgive her for this. And who can forget the social media frenzy when we featured the crocheted trousers/jodhpurs!
There was a lot of excitement from followers when Sir Mark went into the cross-country phase at Burghley in the lead, and also a lot of you looked at the video on our FB page of the unfortunate fall that took him out of the competition.
Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II were in the lead after the dressage phase at this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. (Image: Libby Law Photography)

2017 was a year for weather extremes, and a large number of you certainly watched the video of the horses escaping across a raging river in the South Island, and the polo ponies in Clevedon escaping the floods there. You also loved the video of the kids who used the big puddles in their arena to have lots of fun with their pony.  In fact, you loved plenty of our videos and we have put together a compilation of your favourites here.

Emma Brockhurst with Libby Brockhurst on Glentare Charlie Brown, winner of the child side saddle class at the Christchurch show

If you have never been to Christchurch for November’s Cup & Show Week, you really should look at putting it on your To Do list (it’s the week beginning 15 November in 2018). Our coverage of the Canterbury Show was very well received, especially the photos of the cutest competitor there, Libby Brockhurst, and the Christchurch Hunt hounds’ appearance with Huntsman Dave Ferriman!

Dave Ferriman and the hounds (Image: Pegasus Communications)

Our website has many other stories besides event coverage. One of the most popular stories in 2017 was about Susie Hayward’s Andretti’s long journey home, by one of our regular contributors, Annie Studholme. There are also plenty of training articles, including a cross-country Master Class with Blyth Tait – well worth a read!

What is planned for 2018?  First, we are taking a bit of a break, but will be back in action in 2018 with coverage of many different events. We are planning to be at the polo in Hagley Park, and we’ll have plenty of show jumping action including the Nationals in February at McLeans Island, the World Cup Final at Woodhill Sands, eventing when that gets under way again in February, pony club events, and perhaps even some Western riding and more non-competitive equestrian action!

We are also looking forward to bringing you wide coverage of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, USA in September. It will be two weeks of complete overload of equestrian competitions and let’s hope we have a Kiwi World Champion this year!

Yes, 2018 is going to be a big year and we look forward to your continued support, which we really appreciate.

If you would like to subscribe, here’s the link and if you use the coupon code XMAS17 at the checkout you will get $10 off a year’s sub.

Happy Christmas and all the best for 2018.