Summer Borrie jumped at the chance to go to France and has returned from the experience of a lifetime.
The Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil recently spent two weeks in France, rubbing shoulders with international showjumpers and course designers, and taking part in training camps and competitions. It was an eye-opening experience for the 16-year-old, who lapped up every minute.
Summer, and another nine New Zealand riders, stayed at international equestrian course designer Michel Ismalun’s home, where he and his son, Etienne, trained the group twice a day. There were also theory sessions on how to adapt to riding different types of horses.
‘‘I probably rode about 10 horses while I was over there.
‘‘I found it shows how much schooling and stuff that I’ve done with my horses,’’ Summer said.
Her preparation with trainer Lynley Stockdale, of Waimate, also helped set her up well when having to compete on other horses.
The group then travelled to La Baule, for an international competition.
After initiation rides and getting each rider familiar with their horses, everyone competed on the first day.
The next day, Summer was one of three riders from the New Zealand group to continue.
She competed at 1.5m on a 5-year-old ‘‘well›bred sports horse’’ — very different from what she was used to.
‘‘He was quite strong and he was quite a strong rider from what I was used to, so it was pretty cool seeing what I could do with him.
‘‘I loved it.
‘‘I love riding different horses and seeing what we can do.’’
The technical courses were different from those in New Zealand. Summer found them smoother and said it was easy to get a flowing rhythm through them.
After the competition, the group returned to Ismalun’s stables, where they went straight back into training, riding different horses and took part in a style show.
The group also travelled to international arena Jumping De Dinard, to watch a showjumping competition.
Being able to watch world No 1 Martin Fuchs win the competition, speak with Egyptian Olympic showjumper Nayel Nassar about mental toughness, and walk on the ground where the international riders competed was a big opportunity, Summer said.
In a jump-off, riders just had to trust their horse and give it their all.
‘‘They would have galloped into some massive 1.60m fences,’’ she said.
‘‘We also got to walk this course with the riders who were jumping on it, which was pretty cool to see what technical lines there were and how they actually rode it when we were watching.’’
Summer was selected for the tour after sending a CV of her riding to Queenstown coach Lucy Olphert, and she was grateful to the community for its support.