Sydney Win for Southland Student

A sore foot led Katelin Stuart to her love of miniature horses.

A spinal problem moved Katelin Stuart into showing miniature horse and, three years on she has won in Sydney.

Katelin, a 16-year-old, was in the New Zealand Miniature Horse Youth Team that beat Australia’s equivalent in a trans-Tasman competition in Sydney recently.  The teen said she took six months off from riding ponies in 2014 when diagnosed with scoliosis – a curve in her spine.  The curve can be in the shape of a c or and s; Stuart’s is and s.  Her parents believe the condition was caused through a growth spurt.  Katelin found out she had a spinal problem when she went to a physiotherapist with a sore foot after playing in a rugby game.  The scoliosis had made one leg slightly shorter that the other and her hips weren’t level.  Most of her weight was being transferred to her right side.  She stopped riding and began treatment from several specialists – an osteopath, chiropractor and an acupuncturist-massage therapist.  The treatment is continuing and every four to six weeks she travels to the osteopath in Dunedin.  “I wear a brace (for riding) ... I can’t ride without it,” she said. 

When she put her riding on hold, the idea to work with miniatures was discussed.  Katelin, who had just finished her first full season of showing, applied to represent New Zealand at the trans-Tasman show in Sydney. A month later she was named in the team.  She practised with her miniatures the different classes-trail (walk, run and obstacles), jump and showmanship (handler’s control over the miniature).

The Community Trust of Southland and New Zealand Miniature Horse Association donated money towards the cost of Katelin’s travel and accommodation.  She and her parents raised funds too.  The New Zealand and Australian teams each had five handlers and the show organisers provided the horses. The kiwis came out on top and won with 86 points to 82. 

Katelin plans to leave school at the end of the year and spend 2018 breaking in and schooling ponies. “I like project horses … something with a challenge.  “I get bored with a horse that does everything you ask it to do.” 

Long term, she would like to work in equestrian circles in Germany and the United States.  Katelin rides for Winton’s Julie Baynes-White, who is a director of Beechcroft Riding Ponies & Beechcroft Equine.

Abridged, taken from an article by Jamie Searle -  Southland Daily Times, 29 May 2017