• Equestrian Amie Bentall is discovering as much about herself as she is about her love for everything horsey in her TV director's debut of the children's series, Young Riders, to be released tomorrow.
• Bentall's credits in her TV career include editing series such as Dog Squad, Border Patrol, The Block and MKR but the new 24-episode television series, Young Riders, is taking her to a different plane in the equestrian world.
You could say Hawke's Bay equestrian Amie Bentall has been saddling her dreams before riding them into the New Zealand and international arenas of showjumping and mounted games over the years.
Now Bentall is not just living the dream but also trying to chronicle them for other riders as she embarks on a journey that defines not just their individuality but also hers.
The 28-year-old, who lives and works in Auckland, is directing a new 24-episode pilot television series, Young Riders, to be released on TVNZ's children's platform, tomorrow. It also will play on TVNZ OnDemand at a later date, targeting the 9 to 14-year-old audience although the horsey fraternity will tune in as well.
"Doing it was really, really fun because you're also hanging out with the horses, meeting some cool people and their dogs," says Bentall who is making her directing debut with the Young Riders which entails following the daily routines of six talented equestrians as they honed their skills for the 2018-19 Young Rider Series.
"Even the dogs are living their dreams, running around sniffing horses and ... ," she says with a laugh.
The University of Auckland and film school graduate, who has been has been involved with the industry for almost four years, has credits in her TV career that include editing series such as Dog Squad, Border Patrol, The Block and MKR.
Two of the seven Young Riders shows filmed were in the Bay, including the first one of the series at the Young Horse Championship last December and the finale.
"The people who we follow are genuinely quite good in a high level of competition so it's one step down from the grand prix level," she explains, adding reigning Olympic Cup champion Emily Hayward, of Cambridge, is among them.
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"The first twos were nice because they were shot in sunny Hawke's Bay. Everywhere else we got rained on but not there [the Bay] although Gisborne was sunny, too."
The under-21 showjumpers have been documented around the North Island, including the Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show in March where Bentall competed and also got behind the cameras.
"It was a bit of a mission trying to fit those in," she says, relieved five-member teams only had to field four combinations at a time so that freed her up when work took precedence.
"I just like had to do a race in the heats to be able to ride in the finals, so I just jumped on, did a couple of races and then jumped off to do the filming again."
For Bentall it isn't just about the the finer details but also the big picture. Just as she is a cog in the riding teams, the TV stint also an ultimate collective ritual.
"It's about horses and characters so they all have their own personalities and quirks," she says, revealing how even the camera crew is becoming accustomed to finding a sense of affinity with everything equine.
That it is a documentary demands a brave, bolder approach because it is, more or less, unscripted. No doubt it'll be up to the audience to vote with their eyes in an industry and sport where things tend to happen you don't know are going to occur until the end.
Part of it is always a guessing game and part of it is always a game of trust where she hopes the sun and the stars will align with the moon.
"If it does well, hopefully we'll make some more," she says, revealing her contractors, Greenstone TV Ltd, will decide in October if they will do a sequel to it.
No Bay riders feature in the TV series but she certainly got her parents, Denise and Steve Bentall, who live on the outskirts of Hastings, to pick her up from the airport when she filmed here.
The former Havelock North School pupil laughs when asked who steals the show — horses or riders?
"The horses are hilarious because they get really close to the cameras so it's interesting because they lick the cameras so we've just left that in.
"So, yes, horses wear their hearts on their sleeves and don't really hide stuff and can be quite funny."
After riding horses since she was 7, Bentall has competed in both show jumping and represented New Zealand internationally in mounted games.
At 17, she became the only rider to win both national titles at the New Zealand Mounted Games Association annual national pairs competition in Waikato in 2009, in tandem with Terrence Hayes, of Waikato.
At the Hoy Show in March, she rode mount Bonnie to help her team clinch the open teams crown of the mounted games. The combination also helped New Zealand claim the world teams' title at the Hastings show as well in 2013.
Rachael Bentall, her younger twin sister by seven minutes, won bronze as part of the New Zealand team at the 10th World University Equestrian Championship in Aachen, Germany, in 2012.
Rachael, who is a surgical registrar in Tauranga, is a former national young rider championship winner and was runner-up in the Young Rider Series one year.
Like Bentall, Rachael still rides.