Successful season leads to NZ honours

Southland Girls' High School Year 13 pupil Philippa Stratford riding Appaloosa Mararoa Jodee.

SHE may have only been horse riding since the age of 11, but Philippa Stratford’s success this season shows this eventer means business.

For the Year 13 Southland Girls’ High School pupil and member of the Kennington Pony Club, the nagging to get a horse has paid dividends with her selection in the Otago-Southland team this year.

After beginning eventing four years ago, this year Stratford had set the goal of qualifying for the representative team with the global pandemic actually working in the 17-year-old’s favour.

“The thing with all of this is if it hadn’t have been for Covid I wouldn’t have qualified.”

The postponement of last year’s cup gave her the extra time to improve.

But Stratford still had to make the cut.

With top finishes in the New Zealand Pony Club South Island Show Jumping championships, riding as part of the North Otago Pony Club team, and competing successfully as first reserve in the Otago Southland squad at the New Zealand Pony Club South Island Dressage Championships, she not only reached qualifying standard but was one of the best qualifiers which allowed her to be selected for the Otago Southland team.

Her selection in the team as an intermediate rider, paid off.

She finished second overall in the Dorothy Campbell section at the New Zealand Pony Club Championships in Cromwell last month with the Otago-Southland team finishing third overall.

Stratford competed in three events, the dressage, cross-country and show jumping, throughout the two-day event on Peti Peti Wai (Fidy), one of the two horses she rides, the other being Mararoa Jodee (Jodee).

Her favourite event is the cross-country – the event both her and Fidy love.

“It’s like an adrenaline rush and excitement when I go into the start box in cross-country.”

Her horse, she says, is confident so even when she may be a little bit nervous about a jump, he takes control.

“With horses it’s about trust them trusting you and you trusting them.”

She is unsure about what the future holds in the sport when she leaves school, as she knows if she is to climb higher in the eventing rankings, it will require a more expensive horse.

But for now she will continue to ride Fidy and Jodee and continue to love the sport.

“It’s all about having fun.”