Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New Zealand: Sportsman takes on fresh legs

photo: WINNING COMBINATION: Geraldine endurance horse rider Nigel Kerr (standing) with partner June Whuang aboard his horse Saparah.

When knee troubles put a stop to his multisport passion Geraldine man Nigel Kerr found a way to continue with endurance events – a pair of fresh legs.

Swapping running shoes for a set of metal ones Mr Kerr acquired an Arab horse by the name of Saparah and continued training in a different fashion.

While he is modest about his multisport achievements, taking claim to "some minor successes in veteran sections" his training knowledge has taken him to significant success in the equestrian scene.

"I think the multisport has helped with the horses, it's the same training and feeding," he said.

Mr Kerr has now clocked up over 1000 competition kilometres on Saparah and ridden his way into top placings.

In just his second season he finished fourth in the South Island and third in the National endurance horse riding championships, both 100km events.

He was also placed fourth in accumulation of points out of all endurance horses in New Zealand.

And he is already on his way to success this season, finishing second in the recent South Island Championships and set compete in the nationals at Foxton at easter.

Mr Kerr is a member of the Mt Nimrod endurance club and is at present also training a second horse.

While he said it is an expensive sport, the enjoyment he gets outweighs the cost.

"I'm quite competitive, I like to finish on the podium," he laughed.

But it's not without the help of his partner June Whuang who takes on the role of chief groom when he is competing.

During the intervals at the endurance events Miss Whuang takes complete care of Saparah while Mr Kerr gears up to get back out on the course.

Mr Kerr said while the credit always went to the horse and rider, a lot of the success was due to the efficiency of the groom.

While Miss Whuang had not had much previous experience with horses Mr Kerr said she had picked everything up quickly and was a great support.

But Miss Whuang has held her own and Mr Kerr has not got away without a bargain for her hard work.

While she is his right hand woman when it comes to endurance competitions he has to put his foot forward for her on the dance floor each week at rock n roll dance lessons.

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