My girl and me
These dynamic mother-daughter duos each share a love of horses and a very special relationship, as HELEN FIRTH discovers
Celebrating Mother’s Day this month, we meet some dynamic mother-daughter duos who each share a love of horses and a very special relationship
There’s no doubt that many of our country’s top riders appear to be born, not made, having had the luck to land in an equestrian family. In particular, having a horsey mum who’ll give you lessons on the lunge or keep your pony in work while you’re busy gaining an education is invaluable, as these top riders describe.
But is it all really fun and games when you and your mum share not only an address but the same sport too? For a start, teaching one’s own children can be challenging at best. And how do horsey mums balance the needs of other, non-horsey, siblings?
These mothers and daughters have each been remarkably successful in their chosen disciplines and all have an unshakeable bond strengthened by their shared passion for horses.
was too distracted. These days she gets much more worried. “I do get quite ill,” confesses Hazel. “I’m thrilled that she is eventing because of the huge passion that I have for the sport, but at the same time it’s tainted with this awful ‘what if?’. You have to really work hard at forgetting that, because it would stop any kind of enjoyment.” Another thing Hazel admits to being slightly nervous about was watching Ginny trundle off behind the wheel of her precious truck for the first time. “That was quite something.”
While Hazel was there with Ginny from the beginning, she didn’t ever really give her formal lessons. They both trained with the same coaches – Coralie Williams on the flat and Kirstin Kelly for jumping – and say they ride in a similar style. “Sometimes I would ask Mum to give me a hand if I was struggling with something, although I would never say she was my instructor as such,” recalls Ginny. “But we walked courses and did everything together, so I definitely learned a lot off her.”
The amount of time they spent with each other obviously brought the mother and daughter closer together, which Hazel admits was a little difficult with her other children. “When they were little, they all came to the horse trials, and that was fine, but later it was tricky. Steph still wanted to come with us, but Andrew desperately didn’t want to. I think in the and easy. “She was so self-disciplined with the horses I would actually tell her to take a day off school and do something wild,” laughs Hazel.
“We honestly never argued, even all through those awful teenage years, because I was so busy doing my own thing. If I could help, great, and if not, then she was so independent.”
I see lots of parents putting so much pressure on their kids, but Mum never pushed me.”
end he resented it, because it was something Ginny was really good at and got lots of attention for doing and that totally turned him off. He ended up cycling for his school and having weekends away cycling with Bryan.”
Hazel says there have been a few speed bumps between the pair over the years, although Ginny was a very driven child
“I never felt any pressure to do well,” says Ginny. “I see lots of parents putting so much pressure on their kids, but Mum never pushed me to go up a level and it was never about winning.”
The first rocky patch came when Ginny left home and headed to university (she has a degree in genetics).
“There was an adapting period,” says
Hazel tactfully. “Because we weren’t together all the time as we had been, we rubbed against each other for a wee bit.”
The Thompson family recently moved to a 130-acre farm at Kaukapakapa, along with Hazel’s parents, who have always taken a great interest in Ginny’s riding and live in a second house on the property. It’s a stunning rural outlook from the top of the hill, but the place wasn’t set up for horses and Hazel is thankful her husband came from a farming background, as he has been busy fencing, and helped build the arena and barn. For the first time in their lives, Ginny and Hazel have covered yards. “It’s just paradise,” says Ginny.
Hazel, however, didn’t have quite such fond feelings for the property at first. “The day we moved here, Ginny was in England, and I had all the horses and other animals to move, with no fencing and everything behind tape, in the middle of a very wet August – I can’t describe how awful that was. The horses were unfamiliar with everything and they were scared, so even bringing them in from their paddocks was like taking your life in your hands.
“We didn’t even have anywhere to tie them up – it was just huge amounts of work and I hated it!”
The addition of groom Eilish Neal to the team has been life-changing for mother and daughter; especially as Hazel admits she was beginning to resent her role as unpaid helper.
These days, she still loves watching Ginny’s lessons and squad training, but is careful about voicing her opinion. “It wasn’t hard when she was younger, but she doesn’t want to hear what I’ve got to say now,” laughs Hazel. “Yes,” admits Ginny. “We do argue, although I try not to.”
Ginny, however, is very respectful when it comes to her mother’s eye for a horse and her skill at starting youngsters. “She’s got a lot more patience than I do.” And Hazel credits her daughter’s incredible eye for a stride. “She’s a real natural over fences and she has bucketloads more guts than me.”
Hazel with Remi and Ginny with Harry (Henton Armani); a shared passion for eventing
ABOVE AND CENTRE Ginny celebrated the biggest win of her career in December with the Puhinui CCI3* title
RIGHT enjoying a hill gallop on Steel Magnolia. FAR RIGHT The addition of groom Eilish Neal to the team has been life- changing