Equestrian training sessions popular

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Eastern Southland Pony Club riders have had the opportunity to be taught by an international equestrian rider this week.

Donna Smith, who rode for New Zealand at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, began her training clinics on Wednesday evening at the Gore Race Course.

The clinics finish today.

This was the fourth year Smith had travelled to Gore to teach a clinic, organiser Bernie Hewitson said.

“It started through Eventing Southland. We are doing it to improve Southland riders,” Hewitson said.

Hewitson said the clinic had brought about exceptional improvements.

“And because she comes three or four times every season, we can keep building. Ideally we’d have her here every three to four weeks,” she said.

Clinic attendees Lauren Story (16, left) and Laura Perkins (13) wait on their horses.PHOTOS: LUCY MCDONOUGH

The goal of the clinic was to bring young horses through.

“It’s about teaching young horses good experiences so they’re more positive and, in doing that, we are teaching riders to be more confident.”

Bernie said Smith had the knowledge and skill to get riders and horses to the next level.

“When you have a problem, this is the perfect situation to try and fix them because she has so much experience.”

Rider Delwyne Schmidt said before her clinic with Smith her horse Lochnex “wasn’t doing any good”.

The horse had stopped jumping, she said.

“But this morning, within 10 minutes, she jumped everything,” Schmidt said.

Overall Smith said her aim was to give the riders something to work on.

The clinics will cater for a total of 28 riders yesterday and today.

On Wednesday evening, the Southern Hunters also attended a clinic.

Smith said she enjoyed the experience.

“Gore’s lovely. It’s really nice to come down here.”