Maiah Kitcheman pulled off quite a feat at her first-ever Land Rover Horse of the Year Show, winning the Cat A Pony Show Hunter of the Year title aboard a horse she had ridden just twice before Horse of the Year.
Twelve-year-old Maiah (Hamilton) and RiverRock, who is owned by the family’s good friends and neighbours Sarah and Jackson Stone, were convincing winners of the very competitive class. Jackson qualified the pony for HOY but as a high performance trampolinist had to bow out to meet requirements for the World Games. Maiah stepped in just two weeks ago. What makes their efforts today even more extraordinary is that this is not only Maiah’s first-ever HOY, but also her first season doing show hunter.
However, this is a youngster who while a bit of a late starter in the competitive equestrian world, comes from a strong line of riders. Aunt Tracey Smith has competed at Grand Prix level in dressage, and mum Nikki Smith at level 6/7. Both are regular competitors and winners at HOY. Both were so proud of Maiah’s efforts and admit to plenty of tears amongst the smiles from the sideline. “Tracey and I have both won titles but watching your daughter and niece has quite a different feeling,” said Nikki.
Maiah only started riding at nine. Mum had bought a small pony for her three children but none of them really took to it. The budding young rider is now trained by Lizzie Green and Aunt Tracey.
Nikki, Tracey and RiverRock’s owner Sarah kept everything very low key when the combination got the nod for the call back.
“I was happy even to make the call back,” says Maiah. “They all told me I was 10th so I wasn’t feeling any stress but I did wonder why they were all so happy about it.”
Maiah admitted she was still trying to wrap her head around the win. “It means a lot to win,” she said. “It’s a big achievement.”
Nga Tawa School Category A Pony Show Hunter of the Year: Maiah Kitcheman (Hamilton) RiverRock 1, Emma Bates (Rotorua) My Gemma Bear 2, Zara Gordon (Napier) Shadow Moonshine 3, Holly Cambie (New Plymouth) Glynmerlyn Magical Miss 4, Tommie Day (Waikanae) Dunn in Style 5, Francesca Bishell (Auckland) Apatchy of Kitford 6.
Diana Dobson, 15th March 2019