By Jake Beleski
Hot on the heels of Olympian Mark Todd’s visit to Wairarapa last week, Solway College has announced the addition of an equestrian academy to their 2017 curriculum.
The academy will be launched by the school’s sport co-ordinator, Jane Borren, while former Olympian Tinks Pottinger will be its specialist performance coach.
It will have exclusive use of one of New Zealand’s premier privately owned equestrian facilities, Winstar, situated just 3km from the school, and will cater for riders from year 7 to year 13.
Solway’s principal, Beth Rogerson, said the academy had been in the pipeline for some time.
“We have been thinking about it for a while. In particular the last six to eight months we’ve really been working hard on it.”
The venue will feature a full-size show jumping arena, 900m exercise track, shared and individual paddocks and full amenities including eight indoor stables, square break-in pen, full undercover tie-up area with rubber matting, feed room, tack room, upstairs mezzanine lounge and full kitchen and bathroom facilities.
The academy will operate as a full year programme — terms one, two and four will be focused on horse-based sessions at Winstar, while term three will have no structured on-site programme.
Instead it will focus on other aspects including the riders’ personal development in areas of nutrition, mental skills and conditioning.
It was hoped there would be plenty of room for growth in years to come.
“The limits are really around the physical resources and at the moment we’re targeting to get it started with 10 students,” Mrs Rogerson said.
“We don’t know exactly how many we’ll have in the first year, but we’re hoping we’ll start small and then grow.”
There may be equestrian academies in other schools around the country, but Solway’s would be unique, she said.
“What’s important about this academy, and what makes it a little bit different from others that schools run, is that while the initial students that come into the academy will be students that have horses, we’re actually looking at this as an opportunity for all students to look at career pathways in equestrian rather than just targeting equestrian sports.
“It’s not just about having a horse at school, it’s around equine studies which opens up a whole lot of other opportunities for students.”
Winstar would provide training facilities like no other venue, she said.
“The facility that we are using next year is absolutely top-class.
“It’s probably better than any other facilities available anywhere in the country.”
There will be an open day this Sunday from 1.30pm-4.30pm.