Rider’s life in a truck
Nicole Roberts looked around her horse truck and offered a halfsmile.
‘‘There’s plenty I want, but nothing I need.’’
Roberts has been living in her horse truck for two years after she struggled to find somewhere to rent when a string of her homes were put up for sale in quick succession. She became fed up with the process, so purchased the shell of a horse truck and made herself a home in a paddock she leases in Port Waikato.
Her flatmates are Ashley, an old dog she rescued as a puppy, and an attention-seeking cat named Suzy. Her neighbours are her prized horses - the star of the herd being her mare Vanillees Bling Bling.
She bred, broke and trained Bling on her own, and now, against all odds, the pair have qualified for the most prestigious equine competition in the country, Horse of the Year.
‘‘It’s been a lifelong dream, but I’ve never had finances good enough until now...Coming from where I am, I never thought I’d get there,’’ she said.
Roberts trains horses for a living and currently has just one client, since she is focussing on Horse of the Year, which begins on March 7. Without her two sponsors she would have no chance of showcasing Bling’s talent in saddle hunter.
One is a silent sponsor, and the other is owner of Franklin Browbands, Vanessa Hamlin. Hamlin has provided most of Roberts’ competition gear, and her silent sponsor will loan a vehicle and float so she can transport Bling to the Hawke’s Bay event. Roberts’ friend has loaned her a leather saddle to use, since her own synthetic saddle is frowned upon in showing circles.
Roberts cleaned up at the Franklin A&P Show last month with three of her horses. Bling won champion novice saddle hunter, champion novice paced and mannered and was reserve champion in the overall paced and mannered class.
At Horse of the Year she will compete in two rising star saddle hunter classes - one of which is a title class.
‘‘I don’t care if we come last, I just want to get down there...I still have in my head that it’s not happening, that I’m not good enough, but I need to get into the mentality that we’ve proven that we are good enough.’’
After the show, Roberts will probably put her treasured mare on the market.
‘‘She’s worth too much for me to keep. If I was a millionaire I would never sell her.
‘‘What I hope in the future is that because Bling is doing so well, that her brother Bro will start doing well. Because he is a stallion, there will be his service fees and I might be able to move up in the world.’’
The horse truck that Nicole Roberts has called home for the past two years.
Nicole Roberts and her mare Vanillees Bling Bling will take on the big guns at Horse of the Year.