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Well-deserved winner

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by Diana Dobson

Peter Morris may not have competed in the Horse of the Year Show for decades, but he's still very much a part of the biggest show in the land.

This week, he was honoured at the NRM Horse of the Year Show Hall of Fame, with the presentation of the Pilmer Plate – the Equestrian Sports New Zealand's volunteer lifetime award.

It was a fitting award for Morris, whose first instructor was Dick Pilmer, for whom the plate was first presented.

Morris last competed at HOY when he was 21, and gave up riding not long after.

He says the only reason for that was because he couldn't find a horse big enough! He was told that if he wasn't riding, then he should learn the rules, which he duly did. He was then “carted” all round the countryside officiating for all sorts of disciplines, but was then told to pick just one “and make a got of it”.

“Showjumping has always been my love, so that was it,” he said.

He had no idea he was going to be awarded the Pilmer Plate.

In accepting the award, Morris said he saw at the dinner many who were his heroes.

“I feel hijacked to come in here and be given this. Thank you so much.”

ESNZ patron Tiny White, herself a former winner of it, said she was thrilled it was going to Morris.

“It couldn't go to anyone better,” she said.. “I am sure everyone in the room is as thrilled to bits as I am.”

In presenting the plate, ESNZ chief executive Jim Ellis described Morris as one of the most respected officials across all (ESNZ) disciplines.

“Peter has officiated in the sport at the highest level for more than 40 years, is admired by riders, officials and other volunteers alike for his calm approach and perhaps the best understanding of the rules of our sort of anybody,” said Ellis.

Morris grew up in the Wairarapa and rode from a very young age. He competed in riding classes, progressing through to Pony Club and gaining his B Certificate in 1954, before becoming the first winner of the Dorothy Campbell Cup in 1955.

Morris was the youngest judge ever to gain full international status, and his career has seen him officiate in many countries across the globe.
“His favourite moment was being invited to judge the water jump at the first Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows in 1990.”

He served on the showjumping committee for many years and as chairman of showjumping from 1992-1996. He still sits on the showjumping technical committee and continues to deliver annual judging seminars around the country refreshing, teaching and mentoring current jumping judges, as well as bringing on the next crop. He has been president of the ground jury at every major New Zealand show, including for many years at HOY.

“Peter is renowned for his quietly spoken and considered approach, his calmness under pressure, his willingness to share his knowledge, his unfailingly high standards and infectious humour. Above all, he has throughout his judging career been a friend to generations of riders, helping them to understand, and occasionally to comply, with the rules.”

The Pilmer Plate was first presented in 1995 in honour of Dick Pilmer, the former president of ESNZ, and is awarded annually by patron Tiny White.

It is awarded to the volunteer or technical official who has exemplified the highest ideals of good sportsmanship throughout commitment, dedication and the pursuit of excellence in the service of ESNZ.

Past recipients of the plate include Tiny White, Marion Donnelly, David Goodin, David Graham, Gus Meech, Kath Ward-Smith and Leicester Jarden.


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