As Logan Massie picks his words carefully his horse, Intellect, all 18.2 hands high of him, stands static while visiting English strapper Bev Austin holds the reins outside the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds stables in Hastings.

Massie goes on, revealing the equine name originated from Otane breeders Kim and Greg Best, as the melting but expressive brown eyes of Intellect flicker but show no emotion.

"He wasn't the brightest foal so he was called Intellect," says the 25-year-old from Dannevirke who will ride the 9-year-old gelding in the marquee showjumping event, the Olympic Cup, on the final day of the week-long Land-Rover New Zealand Horse of the Year Show from 2pm tomorrow.

"[He's] big, strong, very talented [but] sometimes doesn't make all the right decisions," he says, with a grin, of Intellect who he bought as a 6-year-old. "A little bit of hiccups in his thoughts but has all the ability to go through the big jumps here this year."


You somehow get the impression Massie seems quietly comfortable in the knowledge some other faculty than purely intellect is necessary in the apprehension of reality.

Even though he's competing in just his second Olympic Cup — the first one was on Kiwi Ludo in 2015 — he knows too well attributes, such as character, will surface as the combination approaches the up to 1.60m fences Werner Deeg, of Germany, has designed for the premier arena tomorrow.

By no means is Massie suggesting they are favourites to wrest the silverware from the elite field of 29 combinations, which will be made final tonight.

He knows too well that showjumping may look deceptively simple but it is endlessly complicated in an arena where humans persevere to find a modicum of cohesiveness with animals.

No doubt, while that frustrates the intellect it equally satisfies the soul, rewards or not, in finding "the right horse to jump the big tracks".

"There's always the one-in-a-million horse which will try to win the cup and then there are horses that go out to put in consistent results week in, week out so you always need those horses as part of your team."

Intellect has grown on Massie who is a little bullish on his mount's solid season in important classes.

After a 1.35m warmup on Wednesday the mount was on schedule to take the Bucas Silver Ferns Stakes (1.40m-1.50m) in their stride last night.


Keeping Intellect in a good space for the most important event tomorrow is imperative for him.

"You know, you're trying to control an animal that has its own mind so us, who are trying to be athletes as well, have to control horses who want to do opposite to what we want."
Massie, a former Napier Boys' High School boarding pupil, juxtaposes it to preparing for a rugby match.

Ascertaining the strengths and weaknesses of the mounts and riding to those is vital.

"You know horses are babysat and they are spoilt all week," he says, delighted with the input of Austin, who hails from Nottinghamshire, after his horses were in Cambridge for a few days under her care.

Veteran Dannevirke rider Maurice Beatson and Gold Locks are among the elite field of combinations of the Olympic Cup at the Hoy Show in Hastings. Photo/Libby Law Photography, Photosport
Veteran Dannevirke rider Maurice Beatson and Gold Locks are among the elite field of combinations of the Olympic Cup at the Hoy Show in Hastings. Photo/Libby Law Photography, Photosport

Massie isn't daunted to be up against the likes of Olympian Clarke Johnstone (Quainton Labyrinth) and former champions in veteran Maurice Beatson (Gold Locks and Manadalay Cove), Simon Wilson (McMillans Ariados), Helen McNaught (Kiwi Bird), Lily Tootill (Ulysses NZPH) and defending champion Briar Burnett-Grant (Fiber Fresh Veroana).

He describes it akin to a professional golfer who simply tries to tame the course but only finds out how he fares at the end of the 18th hole rather than playing against any particular opponent.

"That's why when I left school I went to work with the best in the world to learn how to cope with those things so when we go into the ring it doesn't matter who we jumping against we try to put in our best performance and come out," he says of 2012 London Olympic Games bronze medallist Cian O'Connor, of Ireland, and a few other stables he visited in Germany.

Riders, he emphasises, are prone to making mistakes, too, but they map a blueprint in a bid to ensure as many, if not all, poles stay up during the jumps.

The challenge will be for all combinations to progress from the first round with as few faults as possible although, ideally, an unblemished one is preferred.

The son of Brenda and Grant Massie juggles his riding with his work as a stock manager on his parents' 1100ha sheep and beef cattle farm in Dannevirke. His sister, Georgia Massie is riding here as well. It'll be the last show for the 21-year-old, who has graduated from Massey University, before she makes her big OE.

"Not everyone in New Zealand is professional rider," he explains. "A lot of top-class riders have other interests that you can't just ignore."

Actually Massie has enjoyed making the 105-minute dash to the farm this week to break the tension and monotony building up to the Olympic Cup.

It was when he rode his last pony, Kicking the Cloud, as a 15-year-old at the Hoy Show that he thought he could make a career from riding. He won a few open classes and then nailed the Young Rider of the Year twice before heading to Europe.

Massie doesn't feel intimidated in a code where females outnumber males and do exceedingly well.

Just as he weighs the positives and negatives of horses with riders, he feels the genders have similar traits.

"Males tend to be stronger and more aggressive sometimes but at times it's delicacy that makes horses jump better so you can only try to manage a horse because you can't make it do the job," he says. "It's not like packing in a scrum."

For Massie, aiming for the top two will be on the agenda but, of course, winning will be a dream come true.