Tommy could be described as a quiet over achiever. Imported by Nicola d’Almeida from Scotland in 2013, as a three year old, he was originally destined to be bred from. A pure-bred, Black Tabiano Gypsy Cob stallion, he stands at a sturdy 150cm. Kind-hearted, with a beautiful head and with very correct movement, it was evident to Nicola and fellow equestrian enthusiast Chanelle Reid that he was a very special horse.
“I’ve been more or less involved with Tommy since 2015 and seen him grow both in skill and achievement,” smiles Chanelle.
As a Gypsy Cob, traditionally Tommy would not have been considered a suitable contender as a ‘sports horse’, the usual term given to horses who compete in dressage, eventing or showjumping. But there was something about him that encouraged both Nicola and Chanelle to spend time and effort into training him and the results have been amazing.
“With training, he has competed in Show Hunter, Dressage and trained in cross country and working equitation as well. As a stallion we wanted to show how versatile he was. He is a fantastic all-rounder!”
Chanelle has been interested in equestrian for most of her life and she loves the challenge that working with horses brings. Working with such a special horse as Tommy is an absolute privilege she says, and every event they attend is a chance to celebrate what he continues to achieve.
The world of equestrian is not an easy one and can have a perception about it that the best horses involved are those bred from ‘warmblood’ lines. There has been many an Olympic campaign that starts with the analysis of hundreds of blood lines and pedigree to find a suitable horse and that’s before any training starts.
For the team behind Tommy it is more about creating inspiration. They understand that a horse like Tommy has limitations as a dressage horse but his attitude means he trains exceptionally well and he acts as a role model in a sport for many who want to give it a go but don’t have the ‘perfect horse’ to participate and compete.
“We regularly have people coming up to us or commenting on our social media posts about how wonderful it is to see him and that they are motivated to try out the sport. We want to show people that with great training and effort anyone can learn the sport, have fun and even be competitive. You don’t have to have a fancy, purpose bred Dressage horse to do that!”
Tommy is a rare commodity, being one of the most consistently successful out of the Gypsy Cobs competing in Dressage in New Zealand and the team behind him have lofty goals to continue his climb up the levels in this sport. Quality training is the primary focus for Chanelle and whilst Tommy hasn’t been easy to train, it brings with it, incredible rewards.
“Tommy has never found the work easy, and it is a constant learning experience finding out what works for him and what doesn’t. You always learn from what goes right and learn more from what doesn’t, and it is no different working with a horse like Tommy.”
This past year equestrian events, like any sport have been affected by Covid, but the team are thrilled with what Tommy has achieved. Highlights being a successful outing at the Bates National Dressage Champs 2020 in Taupo, 1st and 2nd all weekend at the Northland Champs, including a 1st in his musical freestyle. The biggest season highlight for Chanelle and the team was the Oro Equestrian North Island Dressage Championships held in Taupo in February. Winning the overall medium amateur title was a huge delight and despite Covid preventing any riding on the Sunday of the tournament the team went home happy.
“We are all such a close team, and every competition is important to all of us. Nicki (Tommy’s owner) is groom/camp mother, Stacy (photographer and friend) rides Tommy’s babies and is competing them too, and I train Stacy and I ride and compete Tommy. It was such a shame the last day of the North Island Champs was cancelled due to a change in the alert levels, but it was a great result. Tommy got to wear for the first time and hopefully not the last; a Premier League Championship Rug and we were able to inspire others into the sport and that is our goal at the end of the day.”
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