Mobile 'Hilton' provides a stable environment

By Grant Ellen - Journalism Student

Keeping and showing horses can be an expensive hobby - it's something Nichole McGee and her niece Jorja Anderson, 14, know all about.

They arrived from Waikanae on Wednesday to compete in the New Zealand National Horse and Pony Show, which started yesterday in Hastings. This is just one of the many horse riding events they go to.

"We do eventing , showjumping , dressage as well as showing," Ms McGee says.

But this past-time comes with a price tag.

Ms McGee compares owning a horse to buying a car - the horse is one expense but then it has to be maintained and kept looking good.

"You can't just pull a horse out of the paddock and clip it to make it look good. It's got to be fed properly, muscled properly and ridden, so it's an expensive hobby."

In New Zealand, show horses can range in price from $5000 to $250,000.

"Realistically, you can pick up a horse for $40,000 and under and, if you're lucky, you can get one for $5000 that's an older pony that you want your child to ride because it's had the experience," says Ms McGee.

To get around the shows with their horses also means transport costs, which is why Ms McGee and her family built their $370,000 horse truck/ mobile home.

She says friends call it "The Hilton" because of its plush interior.

The truck has six batteries, which enables it to sit in a paddock for up to five days without having to be plugged in, and it will run the TV, fridge, freezer, shower and stereo, which makes living at events easier.

"It's a mobile house plus float. Everything here stays in here, like all your good gear, your jackets, your feed, it takes your hay and your horses."

There are other costs such as saddles, bridals, jackets, hats, boots and gloves, which Ms McGee says are necessary at this level of competition.

"This is the Nationals, this isn't just a local show, so if you compete here you really have to have spent some money, like on jackets because the standard is so high."

She says costs can be kept down by shopping around and also getting second-hand gear.

"There's a lot of gear for sale because children are growing out of it all the time, so you don't have to buy new."

Most of the gear for sale is cheap and in good condition.

"People keep it in good condition because they don't want it to get wrecked."

Horse riding is something they take seriously and say that you get out what you put in.

"It's a great sport, we love it but you have to be committed."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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