Episode 7: Horse Heaven
Episode 7, Horse Heaven
Northland's Vicki Wilson is regarded by many budding show jumpers as the equestrian equivalent to All Black star Dan Carter.
"She is such an inspiration to girls setting out on a show jumping career," says 16-year-old Skye Alexander from Hawke's Bay.
Vicki and her younger sisters, Kelly and Amanda, run a holiday programme from their home at Hikurangi, just north of Whangarei, giving young riders and their ponies the chance to spend five days in 'horse heaven'.
Fully kitted out in jodhpurs and riding boots, the Wilson girls look like they are off the set of the television programme McLeod's Daughters. These are confident, competent young women who are committed to sharing their horse wisdom with young riders.
Vicki, a 24-year-old who breaks in and shoes her own horses, went straight from school to the stables. Every weekend during the show jumping season, she drives her big horse truck to events all over New Zealand.
"Since I was 14, I have fully funded our show jumping operation - I paid for my sisters until they were 18. Now, everything we earn at home, from the riding camps to shoeing and breaking in horses, goes straight back into our Showtym Show Jumping team. There is not a cent left over," says Vicki.
The Country Calendar crew got to witness Vicki, clad in bare feet and shorts, breaking in a spirited young horse using her own well practiced methods.
Having the previously unbroken gelding trotting in an open paddock in less than 30 minutes is testimony to Vicki's skills.
"We've got to get the horses feeling very comfortable with us so they will accept a leg or our body lying all over them," Vicki tells her students, as the gelding licks her toes and looks to his new mistress for the next instruction.
Vicki's mother, Heather Wilson, says her daughter has a natural
feel and energy with horses.
"When she was younger, I thought everyone could do what Vicki does with horses. Now I realise she has a very special gift."
Young riders at the holiday camps enjoy numerous sessions in the arena with Vicki and younger sister Amanda where they learn how to get the best from their horses.
"We teach riders to train their horses like athletes. I love seeing the results and seeing the kids improve," says Vicki.
But horse riding is not the only skill the young riders pick up says Amanda.
"We encourage them to try out new things. After five days, a lot of the shy girls are almost more confident than the ones who started the week with a lot of confidence. We meet some pretty amazing girls."