A Queenstown show-jumping rider’s career is taking off in leaps and bounds.
Olivia Robertson, who’s aiming to compete for New Zealand at the 2020 Olympics, last year moved fulltime to Holland to advance her career.
The 22-year-old, who originally shifted to North Canterbury to pursue more oppor-tunities after three years at Wakatipu High, has already represented NZ overseas in junior teams.
Two summers ago she won the Young Rider of the Year title at the Horse of the Year competition in Hastings.
She took out the Norwood Gold Cup at the same show last summer, won the South Island premier league title and finished fifth in the World Cup series.
After two stints in Holland, she decided last year to stay there, flying over her two top horses.
Unfortunately, Nga-hiwi Cisco, whom she’d won her titles on, has twice hurt himself there.
“It was a little bit tough, but I just have to look at it that I flew over a year earlier than I anticipated,” she tells Mountain Scene during a break in Queenstown last week.
She earns a living training horses for their owners, and holds out good prospects for a five-year-old gelding she’s been given to ride.
Robertson says acquiring another horse is a major aim this year.
“We’re looking at getting a few investors from NZ involved in buying a top young horse.”
They don’t come cheap, however – “you can be pushing up to the millions for those top horses”.
Robertson admits she couldn’t have got anywhere without the support of her parents, former eventing rider and top Queenstown hotelier Jan Hunt and ex-All Black Duncan Robertson.
Her father, she says, is very competitive – “he has passed that
on to me, but he’s also very good with the mental side of it”.
According to her parents, animals gravitated towards her from a very young age.
“You have to be very forgiving with animals.
“You can’t get angry with them.
“They’re not doing anything wrong.
“They just don’t understand the question you’re asking.”
Though showjumping is a very technical sport, Robertson says it also appeals to her innate “adrenalin junkie” nature.
“Trying to make a 700kg animal jump a fence and I’m, like, 50-something kilograms, you get a bit of a thrill from it.”