When you love what you do, you find a way to make it work, such is the case for Nicole Roberts. For the last few years Nicole has been living in a horse trailer parked beside the paddock she rents near Port Waikato, New Zealand. Nicole has sacrificed the pleasantries of lifestyle to pursue her passion for horses. This week she competes in New Zealand’s coveted Horse of the Year Championship.

Nicole will be riding her Thoroughbred/Clydesdale mare, Vanillees Bling Bling, in the saddle hunter classes. Roberts is a self taught competitor who could not afford lessons so she divined unique ways to train Bling and improve her own riding skills. One ad lib solution is to park her car in the pasture so she can check her posture in the reflection of the windshield.

Nicole’s riding efforts are supported by a few sponsors and many horse friends. One sponsor provides transportation – the loan of truck and float, another provides financial support – entry fees and show expenses. A horse friend has loaned her a leather show saddle.

“It’s been a lifelong dream, but I’ve never had finances good enough until now…coming from where I am, I never thought I’d get there,” Nicole said.

Nicole Roberts and Vanilees Bling Bling

But “got there” she has. Earlier in the season at the Franklin A&P show, Nicole and Bling won champion novice saddle hunter, champion novice paced and mannered and was reserve champion in the overall paced and mannered class.

Nicole said while a ribbon at Horse of the Year would be nice, just competing will be an unforgettable experience. She will compete in rising star saddle hunter horse over 163cm and rising star saddle hunter of the year over 148cm.

“I don’t care if we come last, I just want to get down there…I still have in my head that it’s not happening, that I’m not good enough, but I need to get into the mentality that we’ve proven that we are good enough.”

Horse of the Year (HOY) Competition runs from March 7-12 at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds, Mayfair, Waipatu.



Photography Courtesy: Brian Hubbard/Fairfax NZ