Young rider aim­ing high

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

‘‘Here he comes, my beau­ti­ful an­gel,’’ says nine-year-old Win­nie Tay­lor. She’s wait­ing on her pony Mur­phy in a pad­dock at her fam­ily home of Sun­nyvue Lodge, West Mel­ton.

The lit­tle horse ar­rives and is im­me­di­ately af­fec­tion­ate with Win­nie, let­ting her cud­dle his face and kiss his fore­head. She has the same rap­port with all the goats and other horses in the pad­dock.

Win­nie may be young, but she al­ready talks about rid­ing for New Zealand’s Olympic parae­ques­trian team. But first she needs to make it to Horse Of The Year (HOTY).

Us­ing a nor­mal sad­dle with the ad­di­tion of a bar for grip and ver­bal com­mands, Win­nie en­joys rid­ing and com­pet­ing along­side her peers at the Roy­d­vale Pony Club de­spite her cere­bral palsy.

Mum Kylie Tay­lor said Win­nie, close to achiev­ing her D level cer­ti­fi­ca­tion with her club, hoped to at­tend her first HOTY in March, at the Hawkes Bay A&P Show­grounds.

More than 1400 rid­ers and 1800 horses would at­tend, mak­ing it one of the coun­try’s big­gest rid­ing events.

‘‘I think it’ll be re­ally ex­cit­ing for her to go to HOTY be­cause she can meet peo­ple in wheel­chairs who are rid­ing and see that it is pos­si­ble,’’ Kylie said.

To get Win­nie to the event, Kylie said the fam­ily had been fundrais­ing with on­line raf­fles and quiz nights through the Face­book page One Girl, One Pony, 101 Dreams.

‘‘We thought we might run a mini-show here be­cause we’ve got all the jumps and stuff. Just a lowlevel thing.’’

Win­nie, one of six sib­lings, was a forth gen­er­a­tion com­pe­ti­tion rider and be­gan rid­ing at ninemonths-old.

She said she loved the feel­ing of rid­ing, as well as the rush of winning rib­bons.

‘‘I like rid­ing and com­pet­ing with my friends at pony club,’’ Win­nie said.

She reg­u­larly at­tended both pony club and rid­ing com­pe­ti­tions while also train­ing at home, ei­ther on the horse or her peanut shaped ex­er­cise ball to train her core strength.

The joy of rid­ing was not damp­ened in the least by the strain it put on her mus­cles, Kylie said.

Win­nie needed a spa treat­ment af­ter each com­pe­ti­tion or visit to pony club to re­lax her leg and core mus­cles.

While cere­bral palsy meant her mus­cles were tight all the time, rid­ing left her with cramps which could last up to three hours.

‘‘It’s very un­pleas­ant for her when she’s fin­ished rid­ing. Noth­ing’s in a nat­u­ral po­si­tion so of course every­thing cramps up and it’s 10 times worse,’’ Kylie said

The fam­ily has train­ing an older pony, Tiki Taane Mahuta, for Win­nie to ride in the parae­ques­trian com­pe­ti­tions.

‘‘When she com­petes at 12, she’ll need abs of steel, a smaller bar and be able to ride solo. That’s why we’re train­ing the horse for two years,’’ Kylie said.

Win­nie Tay­lor and her beloved pony Mur­phy.

Liz Costa and Win­nie’s Dad, Kevin

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