A young Mahurangi rider is rising through the ranks of national eventing with the Olympics firmly in her sights.
Briar Woolley finished the Dunstan Amateur Rider Series this year, placing in the top six in all six of the two-star events she competed in. This means that next year, she will move to the three-star series, just one level below Olympian standard.
Woolley, 25, has been riding with the Albertland Pony Club since she was about five, following in the footsteps of her mother Leanne.
Her early riding successes were in show jumping, where she collected some national awards on Brenwood Pure Blonde. But two years ago, she spent three months working at Olympian Nick Holmes-Smith’s eventing stable in Canada, prompting a change in direction.
“I really enjoyed the work and decided to start eventing myself,” she says.
She returned to NZ, sold Brenwood and bought herself an eventing horse, DSE Sacred Trust.
“I love the challenge of working towards mastering the three disciplines that make up eventing – dressage, show jumping and cross country.
“To be competitive, you need a well-rounded horse that’s brave enough to take on cross country, careful in the dressage ring and can move well.
“The horse also needs to be fit because a cross country section often means finishing a five-kilometre course at a fast pace. We do a lot of hill work to keep us both fit.”
Woolley is also receiving specialist coaching in dressage and show jumping.
She says that although the Olympics is “definitely” on her radar, for now she is just seeing how far she can go on DSE Sacred Trust.
Woolley is a full-time rider who coaches in Wellsford, Mangawhai and Matakana. She also trains horses to sell.
“The fact that I’m riding all the time helps me with my own training.”
She had planned to return to Canada last year, but the pandemic put paid to that idea. She is now looking to compete in Melbourne instead, but will need to fundraise to make this happen as just the cost of flying her horse to Australia is around $8000 to $10,000.