Glory days riding ex-hack

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Queenstown’s Jude Nickolls has ridden to dressage glory on a “trekking horse” pinched from her mum.

The 33-year-old accountant has recently been awarded three national prizes after a successful season on mare Glenview Caballero (Cabby) at dressage events around the country.

By accumulating the most points during the season, Nickolls is the New Zealand level 2 high points champion, the South Island high points prize winner for levels 1-4 combined – she’s also won the NZ amateur owner award for levels 1-4 combined.

And she’s only been riding Cabby – which belonged to her mum, former Shotover Fresian Stud farm owner Sharyn Stalker – for two and a half years.

Stalker used Cabby – a thoroughbred-Fresian cross with bloodlines from legendary Kiwi sire Sir Tristram – as a hack on the Cavalcade trek before Nickolls “grabbed her and … sort of never let mum ride her again”.

“Mum was absolutely fine because on the last Cavalcade [Cabby] played up for the very first time ever and she thought it was time to move on.”

It hasn’t been easy training Cabby from scratch – Nickolls starts work at 7.30am so she can finish early to practise dressage routines.

She hopes to progress to level 4 next season – midway on the grading scale.

“I’d love to get her to [top level] grand prix.

“It’s quite difficult with all the people in NZ who have $30,000 horses, purpose-bred and imported for dressage – and I’ve got a trekking horse.

“I reckon I can do it and as a lot of people say, you can train any horse to do anything.”