This marked my first journey to the land of the Kiwi’s, and let me tell you it was worth the wait and then some. The only thing missing from this outstanding trip was my partner in crime Jenny, and our even bigger partner in crime Emma Dog. An amazing amazing trip, but I definitely do not enjoy being away from my family for that long.
Yes the flight was long, but come on, that is to be expected. The people there are in every way gracious and welcoming, and it starts before you even land in their country. If you ever have the chance to go I highly recommend it, and without a doubt fly Air New Zealand. The planes are totally modern and the staff is outstanding. They definitely win the top airline award in my book. The planes stewards are but a small taste of the hospitality you will experience while in New Zealand. From the moment I arrived until my plane took off headed back to the US the Kiwi people showed me total and unparalleled hospitality.
My main purpose for traveling to New Zealand was first to judge their National show, and second to do a 2 day clinic following the show for the exhibitors. The quality of the horses and exhibitors there was much higher than I had expected. They do not have quite the specialization in each class as we do here in the US, however they can certainly out do us in the true all around horse department. Some of those horses showed from Halter classes all the way through until the Working Cowhorse, and did each of the events quite well to. The sportsmanship shown by each and every exhibitor was something that we should all aspire to. Every winner was extremely gracious to all the other competitors, as was the person who may have had some trouble and did not place. This was an extremely welcoming part of the experience for me.
My favorite part of the trip was definitely the 2 day clinic that followed the show. It was great to judge everyone and then clinic immediately following the show as it allowed me to see each rider’s strong and weak points and tailor the clinic properly. For most of the first day I worked with the New Zealand World Cup Team, which many of you know is a passion of mine, and followed up with an open clinic to anyone that wanted to stay behind and practice. Thank you so much to Dave Young and the New Zealand Quarter Horse Association for making this a reality for me.
After completing my “job” I traveled 7 hours or so north to Auckland, getting a chance to see the beautiful and ever changing landscape of the North Island. The best I can explain what I saw to those of you whom have never been, it is like Ireland turns into Nevada, turns into Oregon forests, turns into the California coast line. It was certainly the most diverse countryside that I have ever seen. My final afternoon in the country was spent bay fishing with the gribble family for red Snapper. I was told that I had to catch my dinner or starve!! (Just kidding!! We had a backup plan.)
Though I was gone for 11 days the trip seemed quite short. I look forward to visiting with my new friends down south, and cannot wait for my next trip.