Young rider aiming high
‘‘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