For our September Personality of the Month, we decided it was time to shift some focus to our horse loving Noordhoek residents. I interviewed Mandy Mason who is a Professional Equestrian Athlete.
Tell us how you became involved in the Equestrian world...
Way back for as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for animals, my most favourite being the horse. My mother, as a young adult, rode and did some hunting. Back then they would ride over from Noordhoek to Tokai forest, hunt for the day and then ride back home. As I became more interested in horses my mother tried to encourage other sports, as she knew what horse riding involved. Every weekend I would plead."Can't we go see the horses"? In the end she gave up and I learnt to ride at a riding school in Constantia. Later on I moved to Sleepy Hollow in Noordhoek and that's where it all really began!
I loved the adrenalin rush of controlling the horse and making him go faster. Learning to jump over poles was amazing and I've never looked back!
I believe you qualified for eventing at the Olympic Games? Tell us a bit about this?
Three Day Evening is my passion, it is similar to a Triathlon, it consists of a Dressage test were the animal needs to be calm and collected, this can sometimes be difficult as the horse is incredibly fit with lots of energy, the second phase is the X Country, jumping large fences at speed, this requires a strong, bold horse with stamina and speed!
These fences don't fall down so you as the rider need to be brave and skilled. The Show Jumping is the last phase, these are coloured poles, which are light and easily fall down, after the X Country the horses are often tired and every pole they hit results in added penalties! The one with the lowest penalties from the three phases is the winner!
I trained a young horse to Olympic Level and my dream was to compete at the 2012 Olympics, it took four years to Qualify and the dream looked to be closer than ever, unfortunately my sport is not cheap and getting myself and my horse to London at least eight months before the Olympics was not a easy feat. Big sponsorship was hard to find and in the end I sold the horse and he flew to the UK with his new rider, a South African girl, her dream is to do 2016 Olympic games on him.
What do you do for a living?
I teach and train young horses as a profession, I love what I do and enjoy to see young, talented riders be moulded into skilled athletes. Its a passion rather than a job so it comes easily to me, I love to teach my clients the finer details to riding, making it look effortless when it is far from easy.
I always have two or three horses of my own that I train daily on, looking for the next Champion, like people, not every horse has the ability or the drive to be the best, I love the process of buying them, training them and winning on them.
Tell us why you like living in Noordhoek and what you love most about it?
I have many times had great opportunities of training over seas but my heart lies in the Noordhoek Valley, for anyone who has lived here, will know, it is like a drug of life, pulls you in and you never want to leave its beauty.
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