Ana Whitehead has been selected to compete in the trans-Tasman competition in Imbil, Queensland. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Most of us have never ridden the distance between Masterton and Wellington on horseback, but that is exactly what Wairarapa College’s Ana Whitehead will be doing next week.
A straight line between the two places is an 81km trip, and at next week’s trans-Tasman endurance equestrian event in Queensland she will be competing in an 85km ride.
Whitehead is from Tinui, but is now in Year 10 and boarding at Waicol.
She was part of the four-strong team named to head across the Tasman next week, with the other riders coming from Raetihi, Fairlie and Marlborough.
Ana said yesterday she completed her first endurance ride when she was 10 years old, and was excited to compete at an international level.
“The opportunity only came up recently — it was kind of a quick process,” she said.
“It was definitely something I wanted to try and achieve — it’ll be a great experience.”
She has competed in Australia before — in the Southern Cross Challenge — but said that was a junior event and a bit more “low-key”.
One of the biggest challenges she will face is adapting to a new horse, which she will only meet when she gets off the plane in Australia.
“I get to ride it a couple of times and then ride it in the event straight away which is a bit daunting,” she said.
Ana said one of her greatest achievements to date was the 120km ride she completed at the nationals in 2016, and was hopeful of completing a 160km ride by the time the 2018 nationals arrive.
She said she had received plenty of support since making the team, particularly from the Martinborough Hotel, who provided a voucher to raffle off, and Sylvia Ireland, who gave her a lead rope and halter to raffle off.
The announcement of the team to head to Australia also provided another success for the Wairarapa endurance riding community, as another member of the Wairarapa Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Club, Kelly Haywood, was named Chef d’Equipe (team manager) of the group.
Haywood said it was a “real honour” to be asked to take up the position.
“I’m normally an official . . . I’ve been around for a long time, so they thought I might be a good fit.
“I got quite a shock when they asked me.”
The event would provide the riders with a taste of what it is like to compete at a high level internationally, she said.
“The trans-Tasman is really good because we’ve got four experienced New Zealander riders, but they aren’t that experienced in international rides.
“It’s a really good chance for people to go over and compete in international competition.”
The trans-Tasman competition will be held at Imbil, Queensland from August 17-20.
Both Whitehead and Haywood will then turn their attention back to local events, with the club’s first ride scheduled for Sunday, September 3.