A Family Affair

7 Mar

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When Dylan Bibby rides into the show hunter arena at the 2017 Horse of the Year Show he is continuing a very special tradition.

His mum Kelly has not only ridden at the show, but can lay claim to being part of a record-breaking combination. She was the groom for Merran Hain (Gisborne) and Tregonning when they claimed a slice of HOY history. When Hain and Tregonning won the Olympic Cup in 2003, she was the oldest rider to do so. That has been nudged in recent years by Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), but not quite beaten.

It was the second time Hain and Tregonning had won New Zealand’s most prestigious showjumping crown.

Kelly looks back on it with plenty of pride, and now her 12-year-old son has dreams of his own.

This year he will again compete in the show hunter section aboard his lovely Daisy Patch (owned by Pam Hamilton and Lyn McPhail) – much to the disgust of his three siblings Leah (11), Amy (8) and Katie (5). All would dearly love to be competing at the prestigious show.

But his sights are set on the Pony of the Year crown  . . . and in years to come, the ultimate showjumping prize.

“He is aiming high,” says Kelly. “The Pony of the Year is his big goal for now, and he reckons he will be in it next year.”

Dylan is at mini prix level now and Kelly is confident the combination certainly have the talent to go far.

She should know, she’s seen plenty of top showjumping. For years she was Hain’s groom, and remembers back to when HOY was held in Karaka, Auckland. This year is the 19th year it has been in Hawke’s Bay.

“That first year they won the Olympic Cup, they also won Working Hunter of the Year and we won the best presented prize too,” says Kelly. “I have so many wonderful memories from HOY and my time with Merran. It was a fantastic time and I learnt so much – now I am trying to pass that on to my kids.”

The 1999 victory saw Hain go head-to-head with John Cottle (Auckland) aboard the legendary Super Moth.

“I will never forget it – Merran came around to the last fence and just put the pedal to the metal. She took out a stride and we were like ‘what?’. Super Moth was so on form that year and John had gone out first and just gone for it.”

She was there again when they won in 2003.

“Trigger (Tregonning) just gave everything for Merrain – I am not so sure he would have done the same for anyone else. He never got rattled and was always so composed and sure of himself.”

Kelly has also competed at HOY, but the last time was 2009 with her then four-year-old Piper’s Gift in the rising star park hack classes.

She would dearly love to get back into competition but says with four youngsters it is a big ask.

“My time will come back round,” she says. “At the moment we’re just very dedicated supporters of this crew. This is the most incredible sport and I love that we call all go out for a ride together.”

That ride can sometimes encompass three generations, when Hamish’s mum – and very proud grandmother – Lyn joins them.

“Equestrian may be a lot of work, but it is most definitely worth it.”

These days she and husband Hamish are busy with their crew – all of whom are students at Onga Onga School and will be there to watch Dylan ride . . .  and to dream of the day they too get to compete at HOY.

Dylan has recently also been named in the Central Hawke’s Bay Sports Academy and was filmed by Country Calendar for his breeding of black and coloured sheep.

“We head to shows with both sheep and horses sometimes, and need two trucks to get everyone there,” says Kelly. “Sheep are a whole lot easier to deal with though!”

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