Abbie Le Quesne got on a little grey pony called Heidi as soon as she could walk and she hasn't stopped riding since.
Abbie, a 14-year-old Feilding High School pupil, lives and breathes horses and is a member of the Manawatu Western Riding Club.
She competes every weekend during the show season, from November through to March, and had a win at the nationals at Manfeild Park in Feilding on her quarter horse mare Skye, earlier this year.
"It was for trail, which is like an obstacle course with gates, bridges and logs. The course is always different. It's like cowboy dressage. It was my last season competing as a junior youth, so that was cool. Next season I will be in the senior youth category and that will be a big step up," says Abbie.
Western riding involves horseback pursuits influenced by the cowboy traditions of the American West. The Le Quesne family are well known in western circles and breed, break in and train quarter horses. Mum Jo Le Quesne says Abbie has always been around horses.
"We have never pushed her. She's a cool kid and works amazingly hard."
Abbie also did well at the Gold Coast Western Riding Show in Waikanae in February and came away with the highest points overall in her category. She placed at Hawera in a reining class on a mare that she had borrowed and trained to rein from scratch.
Another high point for Abbie was winning the International Rookie of the Year in 2012 through the Americian Quarter Horse Association, in the junior youth category. For that she won a buckle, which are highly prized and the western equivalent of an impressive trophy.
Abbie may not compete through the winter but she has a big project on the go in the form of a quarter horse called Kermit.
"It's my first time breaking in on my own and I wanted to see if I could handle it. The big thing that I am learning is patience. Kermit is a 15 hands high, 2-year-old and I am basically de-sensitising him and getting him over his jumpiness, so that he doesn't freak out at everything."
Her mum says: "Abbie has done it all herself, it takes a huge amount of time and effort. She's getting more consistent with her patience, it was something which wasn't there to begin with. If she has a problem, I help her out and talk her through it. When we are on our horses, she is always watching."
Abbie attends clinics through the Manawatu Western Riding Club, with visiting instructors and has gained insight from riders such as Bruce Coleman, Georgia Higgins and Kimberely Anderson.
Abbie is often seen helping out the rookies and anyone else needing help, says her mum.
"She's a good kid, with a smile for everyone. She feeds her horse before school, works him when she gets home, then she has her homework to do. It's a commitment that she has never complained about."
Abbie says: "I will always work with horses and want to breed, break in and train them, like mum. Physiotherapy is something which would be good to get into when I leave school, because it's for people and horses."
For the Le Quesne family, life revolves around the horses and western riding and Abbie says that English riding "doesn't interest me, it will always be western".
- Manawatu Standard
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