By DAVID DAWKINS - The Marlborough Express | Thursday, 21 June 2007
Marlborough's young endurance riders have continued to excel on the international endurance riding scene with Kimberley Ryan and Kylie Avery both recently returned from major overseas rides.
Ryan was part of the New Zealand junior team that competed in the Trans-Tasman Challenge in Nanango, Australia, last weekend while Avery was chosen to compete at a privately-funded ride in South Africa at the start of June.
Avery was selected for the team to travel to South Africa after winning the 100km CEI two star at the Horse of the Year in May.
She continued her good form in South Africa, placing fifth in the 122km CEI two star ride and helping the Horse of the Year endurance team to gold in the eight nation tournament.
While Avery is becoming an old hand on the international riding scene Ryan's trip across the ditch was her first opportunity to ride internationally.
While the New Zealand team failed to come away with the Trans-Tasman Trophy honours for the first time in the competition's four-year history Ryan had an excellent day on a personal level.
She was the only New Zealand rider to complete the FEI three star 160km ride and placed sixth in the youth division, missing fifth by a single minute.
Making the feat all the more impressive was the fact it was the first-ever 160km completion for the 17 year old student at Telford Rural Polytechnic, on just her second attempt at the distance.
"It was awesome. We rode as a team the whole way with all the horses pulling each other and helping each other along," Ryan said.
However, as the ride wore on the three New Zealand open riders faltered and as each lap passed another was vetted out until Ryan was left alone to ride the sixth and final loop in the dark, not finishing until 9.30pm, another new experience.
"I'd rode in the dark before, but it has always been starting not finishing," Ryan said.
The ride was made all the more challenging by stormy local weather conditions that forced a remarking of the first three loops of the track and meant for a bitterly cold race day.
Ironically the wet weather made the course a lot more like home for Ryan as it took away a lot of the hardness the Australian tracks are renowned for.
While Ryan praised the efforts of the open riders who helped her through the first five laps she was also thrilled about the performance of her leased mount Splendercrest Dryad. The duo only met two days prior to race day but hit it off immediately.
"She was very tough, very goey. She was still pulling after the 160km. It was the second 160km complete for her and she just kept going and going and going."
Ryan made such an impact on the Australian stables that she has been invited back to ride in Australia later in the year by Jay Randell, the owner of Splendercrest Endurance Stud.
However, Ryan is going to have to put the offer on hold. The end of year date's are likely to clash with exams for her Certificate in Agriculture and even for international endurance riders school has to come first - at least for now.