Posted on 16 September 2016
A Day With David Collett of Westridge Equestrian
I always enjoy a day when I can get out of the office and it’s even more enjoyable when there are horses involved so I knew I was going to enjoy my day at the yard of my sponsored rider, show jumper David Collett and his partner Craig Sullivan who together are the team at Westridge Equestrian.
The yard is in Kumeu and encompasses two attractive lifestyle blocks with good facilities for the running of their business including two arenas, show jumps, cross country jumps, covered yards and wash down areas. David and Craig have been operating from here for six months and the shift has been a good move for them. David comments that the horses love it here and how when wound up horses arrive here within a few days they are more chilled and settled.
It’s a full on job here with their jumpers, outside schoolers and breakers, agisters as well as grazers on the approximately 49 acres. With David also giving lessons he is very busy riding up to 8 horses a day as well. Phew, it makes me feel tired just writing about it!
When you meet David you are immediately struck by his positive enthusiasm and sunny disposition. While Craig is organising hay and haylage to go out to the horses in the paddocks I ask David a bit about his history with horses. David got his first pony at 3 ad did a lot of riding in the Rodney and Waitemata areas from an early age. He also rode for local identity Ron Cook and did a lot of A&P showing and show jumping and later did a stint working for John Cottle.
He then had a break from horses for a social life and rethink about what to do with his future. He met Craig when he was 22 and his love of horses was rekindled and he was able to further develop his riding talent.
Next we are off to the paddocks to bring in 5 horses for work. David is catching 3 from one paddock including Prinz who he rides in a variety of Saddlery Direct sponsored tack. As he catches them, David explains that Prinz is a bit of a character about been caught and can play the ‘don’t want to be caught’ game quite well. Today he is feeling cooperative though and the horses are all soon in the covered yards.
Grooming is not done with a hose in this yard! Out comes the grooming kit and Craig and David get stuck in getting muddy horses clean and presentable. David says his A&P history has made him very particular about how horses are turned out and Craig says hands on grooming is so important to see how your horse is feeling and to check for any soreness.
Prinz and Lingo are first up for riding today with Prinz looking very smart in his Silver Crown X Nose Bridle and his Total Fit Shoulder Relief Girth. David comments that Prinz likes and goes well in his X nose bridle and the support it gives him. The total fit girth looks great on him and you can really see the clearance it gives behind the horse’s front legs.
I’m really pleased to be on hand as Craig is having issues with the fit of his saddle on Lingo and the fact it is sitting cantle low. It’s not possible to have a saddle per horse so the saddles have to be able to fit a variety of horses and be comfortable and functional for both horse and rider. As Craig’s existing saddle pad is not helping the fitting issue I am able to demonstrate a way to balance the saddle with the Total Saddle Fit Six Point Wither Freedom Sheepskin Half Pad. There are so many adjustability options with this pad that by inserting shims in the rear and middle we are able to get the saddle sitting in much better balance. The beauty of the Total Fit pads is also that they are so comfortable for the horses with no ridges where the shims are so the horse has a smooth soft surface against it’s back.
We head off to the jumping arena and it is a pleasure to watch these two riders working in with the horses going softly and kindly as they are warmed up. When they start jumping it is methodical and progressive from trot jumps over small fences with hat at the end of lines and in the corners to jumping a course of fences at a 1metre 20 cm or so. David and Craig watch each other and offer advice and discuss striding, speed etc. It’s no wonder they are so agile as they frequently hop off and on again as they adjust fences.
Both horses are jumping very well. Craig is enjoying the feel of the saddle on Lingo’s back with the Total Saddle Fit Six Point Wither Freedom Sheepskin Half Pad and says he feels better balanced and closer to the horse. The half pad is given a good test ride over a variety of fences and gymnastic exercises over a variety of heights, turns and changes of direction.
Unfortunately I don’t get to see Prinz’s full scope as the heavens open and we get very wet half way through his ride! I am able to see how good the Total Fit Shoulder Relief Girth is on him though over the jumps and how well he is jumping in his Silver Crown X Nose Bridle.
Back in the covered yards even though David and Craig are very wet themselves it’s all about the horses and they both untack , sponge off and rug the horses quickly and efficiently and make them comfortable.
We have a chat about their business and they both how humbled they are by the positive comments and support they are getting. They value their good reputations and the success they are having is a testament to their individual skills and how well they work as a team.
It’s home time for me but I’m sure David and Craig will be busy with their horses for the rest of the day- rain or shine. I’m looking forward to seeing Prinz compete at Woodhill Sands this weekend and hope to get some great photos to show you all.