World champ raves about resort riders

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A former equestrian world champion and leading coach is buzzing about his Queenstown clinic last weekend. 

Vaughn Jefferis – who won individual and team world eventing titles and an Olympic bronze medal in the 1990s – coached 17 local riders at the Wakatipu Pony Club grounds on Hunter Road. 

“It was a nice clinic – there weren’t any ‘can’t dos’. 

“What I really enjoy about the South Island people is they’ve just got a real eagerness and willingness to absorb and they have a bit of fun with it.” 

The setting, surrounded by mountains, was also “pretty dynamic”, he says. 

Jefferis taught the basics of showjumping – “making positions more classical, educating them about distances to the jumps, finding better balances”. 

Jefferis resumed competitive riding this year after retiring 11 years ago to try to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games. 

But he’s decided “to get there will be too much”. 

“Getting nearly 50, I’m thinking, do I really want to come out there and do it again, after I’ve already done it?” 

Instead he’ll keep his main focus on training “a handful of world-class kids”. 

These include Waikato rider Clarke Johnstone. 

Johnstone recently won the World Cup eventing series.