Trekking for Days to get to HOY

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Horses rule in the world of Grace Percy.

The 17-year-old lives to ride – so much so that she does her schooling by correspondence to ensure she doesn’t miss shows or valuable riding time, and rides as many horses as she can each day. That’s saying something when you live in the deep south where the throes of winter are pretty harsh.

Grace lives at Glenorchy – an hour from Queenstown and at the head of the lake. While that doesn’t sound too bad, it takes the family five hours to get to their nearest one star show, and seven or eight hours to reach a three star.

Her parents Stu and Anne run Greenstone and Elfin Bay high country stations for Ngāi Tahu. While it is somewhat remote, it also has plenty of bonuses – like 5000 acres to ride on.

It is Grace’s last season on ponies. She’s had a bit of a rough run, losing seven-year-old Miss Poppy in a paddock accident, and a little patchy form by her top grand prix pony Madam Masala is frustrating. She also has 10-year-old Paradise Brigadier, a pony she saved from being turned into dog tucker, and her horse Go Johnnie Go.

Both Anne and Stu are very proud of their daughter’s achievements. She is the youngest - “and most expensive” - of four who have grown up on the station.

“We came for three years and are still here 30 years later – it is truly beautiful here,” says Anne.

“Grace is so dedicated – she will help out on the station if she is already out there riding, but generally nothing can interfere with her riding. When someone is that dedicated, you have to back them,” says Anne. “It is nice to see such passion.”

And she’s hopeful to be at her third Horse of the Year Show this month.

Over the past two seasons, she has notched some good results, including third in the pony grand prix, third and fourth in the speed pony and a fifth in the junior rider at the South Island Championships. That was the same week Poppy died.

The crew also shone at the Otago Champs, where she picked up a third in the pony grand prix, followed by a sixth in the 1.2m championships at the 2013 nationals.

Riding in the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Ride the Rhythm was a huge buzz.

“It was so cool,” says Grace, who is a speedster from way back, having won the aggregate prize (for winning the most races on the day) at the Glenorchy Picnic Races for the past three years.

It is a fun day that brings thousands to the Percys end of the lake.

She’s sad it is her last year in ponies, but looking forward to the next phase.

“I just love to ride . . . I like the challenge and it is so rewarding when you do well,” says Grace.


PHOTO CAPTION: A view to die for . . . Grace Percy and Madam Masala head out on a ride.