Trans-Tasman in her sights
Alex Chambers-Steward learnt to ride as a toddler and is now one of the top young equestrian athletes in New Zealand.
The 18-year-old eventer has just been selected for the Young Rider trans-Tasman squad and hopes to make the final team heading to the trans-Tasman competition next year.
The St Heliers Pony Club teen from Epsom is in her first year at Auckland University and is considering a career in equestrian physiotherapy.
She says the world of horses can be challenging - but that's what keeps her interested.
"When you're dealing with another whole mind and body there's always something new to work on.
"It's a very rewarding sport."
She was selected for the squad on a horse owned by pony club member Phil Creagh called Fidy, whose show name is Peti Peti Wai.
Alex owns 5-year-old Flint who she is training to be a strong eventer.
"You really have to adapt to each horse. I get such a thrill out of it. You have ups and downs and that's all part of it," she says.
The Kepa Rd pony club has contributed to her success, Alex says.
Auckland is one of only five cities in the world with a pony club within a 5 kilometre radius of the central business district, according to the Orakei Local Board.
But after a settlement returned a large parcel of land to Ngati Whatua, the future of the club is uncertain.
Ngati Whatua Orakei Reserves Board signalled earlier this year that the club might have to relocate (East & Bays Courier, March 22). A decision is yet to be made.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand performance leader Tinks Pottinger says young rider squads provide a pathway for top young riders towards high performance programmes and the Olympics.
Mrs Pottinger is a former Olympian with a strong history in three-day eventing.
"I have been there and I have a really good understanding of what it takes.
"It really is quite tough," she says.
"You need to get athletes at a young age so you can identify who is really dedicated to the sport."
- © Fairfax NZ News