Sisters changing the fate of doomed horses

Show arena instead of slaughterhouse

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014
horse landscape
John Cowpland / alphapix

Training successes: Sisters Kelly, 24, Vicki, 26 and Amanda Wilson, 21, with Showtym Cadet MVNZ, at the Horse of the Year Show in Hastings.

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Horses destined for the slaughterhouse have been transformed into polished showjumpers thanks to the efforts of three sisters.

Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson have made a name for themselves for training the untrainable, and their stable of once-problematic horses will be on display at the Horse of the Year Show, which starts in Hastings today.

"Most of my horses are everybody's writeoffs," Vicki, 26, said.

"Every single horse here has been a problem or was once sitting in a paddock without their potential recognised."

The sisters take a different approach to training at the Showtym Horses stables in Northland. Their horses work out on the hills and in the rivers, with just one day in the arena.

The sisters' reputation as trainers has been enhanced by their work with Kaimanawa wild horses. They were invited to the 2012 muster after a Kaimanawa pony they had bought and trained won the pony of the year title.

The trio saved seven mares from slaughter when they took home 11 Kaimanawa horses. "In the wild they were free, shiny and proud . . . when we came home they were dull, heads on the ground and depressed," Vicki said.

The sisters took the horses to the beach and let them run in the hills - "giving them reason to live".

They created the Keeping Up With the Kaimanawas Facebook page and documented the progress from a bucking unwieldy stable to skilled showjumpers. This has been made into a movie to be released late this year.

More than 2600 riders and horses will showcase their skills in 19 disciplines during Horse of the Year this week.

It is one of the biggest equestrian events in the southern hemisphere and is estimated to inject $12.5 million into the local economy each year.

Sir Mark Todd is coming home for the event, at which current world champion showjumper Philippe Le Jeune, of Belgium, will also be competing.

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- The Dominion Post

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