|Each discipline - horse trials (or eventing), show jumping and dressage - independently administers its own affairs, with representatives from each on the NZEF Council, and on the Federation Committee. Any person competing must be a member and horses must be registered for official competitions.|
The New Zealand Horse Society was founded in 1950, to administer what was then the new Federation Equestrian Internationale show jumping sport - hitherto in this country, jumping had been of the "round the ring " variety, and most of its adherents hunted in winter. Dressage and horse trials were unknown as such.
Overseas in Europe, the heart of all three disciplines, the majority of the competitors were cavalry officers although there had been some prominent civilian show jumping riders in Britain in the 20's, 30's and 40'5 up until the second world war.
By the late 1940's, and particularly after the Olympic Games in London, show jumping started to attract civilians, and the Duke of Beaufort made Badminton available for the British eventors to " and better their dismal 1948 Olympic performance. Dressage was still a European sport.
The goal of those who founded the society was to bring competitive horse interests together and to promote and develop the new sport of show jumping to the point where New Zealand could produce a team to compete at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (in the event, the equestrian competitions were held in Stockholm).
The Pony Club was, by 1950, four years old and growing rapidly and while some of the old horsemen were, if not downright against the newfangled jumping, there was enough determination to get things up and running.
The emphasis in the early days was on show jumping, mainly because it was easier to organise and the A&P shows already ran the round the ring competitions.
Horse trials took longer to get going - which was strange in a country with such a long tradition of hunting and riding across
country on farms and stations, but building cross country courses was costly and time consuming and there certainly weren't any permanent ones, despite hunter trials over natural country. Indeed, the earliest horse trials here were just that - pretty well over natural country!
Dressage? Well, it didn't much appeal to the Kiwi horseperson, who regarded it as a fancy, soppy way of riding for those too scared to jump!
Over the years equestrian sport grew and there were changes in the Horse Society structure. One after the other, led by the eventors, the disciplines took over responsibility for administering their own affairs under the umbrella of the parent organization.
Changes over the past few years have been major, as the sport adjusted to the new climate of central funding through the Sports Foundation and Hillary Commission and gained more and more commercial sponsorship.
It became increasingly apparent that, however reluctantly, to consolidate the success the No 8 wire volunteer approach would have to be supported by a streamlined, professional Organisation that could hold its own in the competitive funding climate, establish structured training programmes for competitors and instructors and for developing the stars of the future.
Equestrian sport still relies on an army of volunteers at all levels, many of whom make considerable sacrifices in time and money to become experts in their field and to contribute their skills. Some of our officials, particularly in horse trials, are internationally respected and a New Zealander, Mrs Jennifer Miller, will be the Technical Delegate for the Sydney Olympics.
The sport can never do without its volunteers, but it now has a core administration and fully computerised systems based in Wellington after 45 years in Hawkes Bay - that can hold its head high with any other sport of comparable size.
History of Equestrian Sports in NZ
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