Abby Lawrence has been riding horses since before she could walk and now the Te Puke equestrian has won the Waipa Home of Champions CIC 3-Star event at the Kihikihi International Horse Trial riding her black gelding Pseudonym.
Te Puke rider Abby Lawrence on Pseudonym on the way to winning the Waipa Home of Champions CIC 3-Star event. Photo by Libby Law Photography.
Abby and 16-year-old Pseudonym placed fourth after the dressage, and second after the cross country.
It was a clear round over the Gerrit Beker, Tauranga-designed course, which sealed the win at New Zealand’s premier eventing competition in April.
They were the only ones of the last seven combinations left in the class to go clear and inside time, to finish on 91.7 penalty points.
“It is a nice surprise,” says the 25-year-old full-time rider. “He gave the best ride ever. He was just phenomenal in the cross country, and fantastic today.”
Abby’s win is another important milestone in her riding career, with the Kihikihi International Horse Trial is a major event on the New Zealand equestrian calendar.
It’s held every April and runs during three days and includes three international classes – CIC 3-star, 2-star, and 1-star – which bring together Australasia’s top eventing riders.
The three-day competition attracted 300 horses and riders, who competed across the grades in dressage, cross country and show jumping.
Top international judges Christina Klingspor of Sweden, Polly Ann Huntington of Australia and Lesley Mawhinney of South Africa were full of praise for Kihikihi.
“This is the premier event in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Polly Ann.
Lesley described the John Nicholson-designed cross country course as a work of art, while Christina says more people around the world should be lucky enough to ride such courses.
Winning such a prestigious event is a thrill for Abby, who won the Kihikihi two-star event on the same horse in 2011.
“Now I would like to compete in a four-star event in the next year to 18 months and do have a couple of horses capable of competing at that level.”
However, there are only six four-star events in the world and the closest is in Adelaide, Australia. “I’ve competed in Australia before, spending half a season there in 2011.”
Horses and riding are Abby’s life. She and her horses compete at events nationwide, including the Horse of the Year. When she’s not on the road, Abby is teaching riders through her Abby Lawrence Eventing academy based at Paengaroa.
She also trains her own horses, bought as four to six year-olds. Her winning mount Pseudonym was bought for her brother to event with competitively, which he did for a few years, but gave up due to work commitments.
It was her mother Raewyn, who introduced Abby to riding. “Mum used to take me on the front of the saddle with her when she went riding on the farm.
“She also did a lot of track-work racehorse training for her father when she was young, which is when she show jumped.
“It was later in her riding career when she was a regular on the hunt field. She continues to be a great support for my career.” So too is Abby’s father Ian, even though he doesn’t ride.