FOR horse rider Michelle Coombes, there could be no better birthday surprise than winning first place, not once, but twice, at the 152nd Southland A&P Show in Invercargill last Saturday.
The Invercargill woman spent her special day taking on 1.10-metre showjumping courses with her 13-year-old mare Just Amber at the Donovan Park event.
“My pony was very good today, she jumped four double-clear rounds today and there’s nothing more you can hope for than that,” she said.
Ms Coombes took first place in the 1.10m ILT and Mataura Licensing Trust open horse event and the 1.10m Helidrill open horse event.
“When she’s on, she’s on. She’s very honest and brave but she goes because she wants to go.”
Competing since she was a young girl, Ms Coombes counted herself pretty lucky to be a part of such a supportive riding community.
“You can’t really complain, it’s a pretty good way to spend your birthday doing something you love with your mates. We just want each other to do well.”
As well as Just Amber, she owned three other horses and had competed with them throughout the South Island.
I’m competing wherever I can, usually Christchurch and Waimate.”
A few years ago she rode in the biggest riding event in New Zealand, Horse of the Year, and had “ticked that off the bucket list”.
Hundreds of visitors flocked to the Donovan Park grounds for a day full of all things country.
From performance donkeys to cowboy challenges, the South Island woodchopping championships and youth stockman awards, the schedule was jam-packed.
With plenty of food stalls, children’s games and live entertainment, the family-friendly annual celebration had something for everyone.
Images from the Southland A & P Show courtesy of Abbey Palmer