Big Baby Back to Defend Title

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Carl Gately achieved at the 2013 Horse of the Year Show what he thought may just have been impossible.

With Weti Phoenix, the full time horseman won the New Zealand Pinto Horse Society In Hand Pinto Horse of the Year (over 148cm).

"He is probably the most difficult horse I have ever broken in," said the racing stable manager from Te Awamutu. "He is the first horse I have ever ridden that can canter backwards . . . and he would pull every trick in the book. I nearly pulled the pin on him but then suddenly he turned a corner and now, he just gets better all the time."

The four-year-old bay and white is close to 17 hh. Gately broke him in last winter.

"We didn’t expect to win the title," he says. "I thought he was going through a growing spurt – every show he went to last year he had won supreme but then he seemed gawky at HOY."

But he cleaned up, making his owners very happy.

"It was his first season in competition and he averaged four firsts at every show. The horse is bred to showjump but will be a wicked dressage horse."

Gately has had a couple of lessons with the likes of Scott McKenna and Bill Noble, both of whom said how impressed they were with the horse.

Vaughn Jefferis has Phoenix’s full brother Weiti VIP, who is also by Handy Andy.

"I do hope to sell him eventually. I wouldn’t mind taking him hunting, but I think he is a bit flash for that!"

The two will be back to defend their title this year but it’s been an up and down season. Gately broke his ankle early in the season and was then kicked in the other leg, so hasn’t had much of a chance to do a lot.

"He has thickened up a little but is still a big baby and we are taking things quietly with him. He has probably only had three months work in his whole life!"

Gately, who bought the horse as a weanling, is eyeing up show hunter classes for the big horse next year.

His title at the 2013 show was not his first – Gately also won it in 2008 with Weiti Roma.

Despite his work being all about horses, Gately likes to spend what spare time he does with them also.

"I usually have a couple of thoroughbreds at home which I buy as babies, break them in, get them going and then sell. The hacks at home have to fit in around all our work, and there really isn’t a lot of spare time in our world."

But they’ve just bought another Handy Andy baby – the only coloured Handy Andy filly from this year.

"Our property is beautiful with four pintos at home now . . . it’s the most we have ever had!"


PHOTO CREDIT: Mendip Farm Photography