Young Star has Input From the Best
Young Star has Input From the Bes
Sarah Young has a plan . . . and so far, it’s right on track.
If everything runs smoothly, she’ll achieve her dream of riding against the best in the world.
The 20-year-old from Tokoroa – the youngest on the ESNZ High Performance Talent Development Squad – will do her first 3* at the 2016 Farmlands Horse of the Year Show.
Fittingly it is on 12-year-old SS Galaxy, a horse she has carefully trained for the past seven years, and finally, she thinks he’s ready.
It’s not dissimilar to her own story. From the age of nine Young has had plenty of training from some of the best. Training with Vaughn Jefferis from an early age was “hugely influential”, but she also works with Vanessa Way and Clarke Johnstone.
“I am sort of the only one Vaughn trained at that age,” says Young. “My mum used to ride with him back in the day and they became friends . . . so that’s how it all came about.”
Legend has it that Jefferis has little patience for children who fall off and cry.
“I was always taught to get straight back on and I think that is a big part of why he put up with me!”
Way trains her for dressage and Johnstone is a “good friend” who helps her out too.
“I am incredibly lucky,” she says. “These are the best trainers in New Zealand . . . without them I just wouldn’t be the rider I am today.”
And it’s not just been with trainers either – Young has also had rides on some real beauties too, including Johnstone’s first 4* horse Oakley Vision, on whom she won her first national title, followed by Regal Romar (owned by Richard and Natacha Otto) on whom she made her first New Zealand team. She also had High ‘n’ Dry who was produced by Barbara Wallace.
“I had Oakley Vision for three years – it was just amazing. I was in the right place at the right time and he gave me invaluable experience. He will always hold a special place in my heart.”
On Regal Romar she rode for New Zealand in Melbourne 2014, backing that up with another silver fern in 2015 at Taupo where they beat the visiting Australians.
It helps too that mum Jenny (nee Cameron) was an eventer herself.
“I couldn’t do what I do without her help.”
Young is studying a bachelor of communications studies at Waikato University and lives during the week in Hamilton. That’s about an hour from her home in Tokoroa.
“I compete most weekends, the horses have Monday off and if I can’t get back mum works them on Tuesday before bringing them over to me on Wednesday for a lesson occasionally or I commute home to ride.”
The horses sometimes stay overnight for Young to ride again Thursday morning before the whole lot hit the road again on Friday for another event.
“It is quite an operation,” she says. “I would be completely lost without mum. She is extremely knowledgeable and the backbone of all this.”
Young’s results have been impressive – in December she won her second consecutive National Young Rider Three Day crown at Puhinui and she is also the National Young Rider One Day Champion.
“Those are great results for Galaxy. Mum always thought he was a star. He was my first hack and felt really weird when I tried him because he was so different to ponies so I wasn’t 100% sold on him.”
She liked a pony she tried at the same time and ended up buying that while mum stuck to her guns and bought the then five-year-old Galaxy.
“He has so much personality and tries so hard. I really couldn’t ask for any more from him. It seems I have had him a long time to only make the step to three star now but he is a horse that has needed to build that trust.”
Now, Galaxy would jump the moon for his beloved rider.
“His win at Puhinui was all the more impressive because he had been unwell and had just one run leading up to it,” says Young.
“A good friend had taught him to walk, trot, canter and jump and they’d done a few show hunter rounds together. Having those school masters allowed me to transfer a lot of knowledge back to my own horse.”
Last year Young was third in the 2* at HOY on Regal Romar, a class she will this year start aboard Leo Degas.
But eventing is not Young’s only talent – she also showjumps and will be competing aboard Lake Ridge Equestrian’s European import Belize Di Cantero in the Young Rider of the Year, a class she placed third in 2015.
“It’s a real benefit crossing through disciplines like this. I love being able to go out in the showjumping and be competitive as it’s such a huge part of three day eventing. I feel very confident in the showjumping arena, which is an area eventers sometimes struggle in.”
She’s really looking forward to HOY.
“I love the atmosphere there. The first time they held the cross country at the showgrounds I was the first rider out and the youngest in the field.”
That made her the first rider in the world to ride through a tent in competition.
“It was terrifying! It was so electric.”
She needn’t have worried though – she handled it like a pro.
“It really feels like an international event there. It is such a cool thing for New Zealand to have.”
Young has been to some of the world’s top events. Last year she spend six weeks in England, staying with Jock Paget and Tim and Jonelle Price and was lucky enough to go to Burghley, Aachen and Gatcombe.
“It was really fun and gave me a lot of drive to come home and be bigger and better. I found it hard in other ways though – there is only so long you can chase someone else’s dream when you have the same aspirations.”
She plans to finish her studies at the end of 2017 before heading offshore.
“I need to see if I am made of the right stuff,” she says. “Then I will come home, build a team of horses I think are capable of producing the right results and then head back offshore to campaign.”
But for now, her sights are set on HOY.
“I just want to go out and do the best we possibly can . . . in our first 3* run.”