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It was all about the journey for the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses CopRice Stallion Makeover Challenge winner Tina Fagan (Pukekawa).

The niece of world champion shearer David Fagan came out on top after three days of challenges for horse and handler combinations that had only been together 250 days.

The 34-year-old mother of two is a full time horsewoman who has started many a Kaimanawa for clients, but Rock Star was the first one she has owned.

“I love him to bits,” she said, “I plan to keep him.”

When the black stallion first arrived at her Franklin property he had a long forelock and with an presence like a rock star, the kids quickly gave him his name.

“I wanted to be part of the challenge to do something a bit different and to show what you can do with a horse,” said Fagan, who got the horse in late May.

“Rock Star is a real thinker. He doesn't over-react to situations and can be a little introverted. He needs time to think and tries very, very hard. I wish a lot of other horses were more like him.”

Fagan admits she was surprised by the horse.

“He is a lot different to others I have trained, but all the Kaimanawas are so different.”

Torrential and continual rain after the muster hindered training, but Fagan says she was lucky to have a nearby covered yard to work the horse in.

Over the ensuing days, Fagan says she often questioned her involvement.

“In the initial period I would be getting up there to work with him in the twilight,” she says.

By September he was gelded and the two were working well together.

Fagan used her background in natural horsemanship as a foundation for everything.

The first part of the challenge was held at Equidays, where Fagan and Rock Star were ninth out of 14 in one class, and third in the other.

“I quickly realised that what I thought was the best or not, was not where they ended up in the line up, so I just stopped thinking about it.”

She likens training the Kaimanawa to teaching a new language.

“He was learning to understand my body language and we just built from there.”

She themed her final freestyle performance on a matador and bull.

On the last day of competition, Fagan and Rock Star won the freestyle, were second in the horsemanship and obstacle course, on their way to taking the inaugural title and more than $9000 dollars in cash and prizes.

Paddy Mair (Taupo) and Kachina were second, with Tim Featherstone (Kerikeri) on Redcliffs Ted third and Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) fourth with CopRice Argo KH. Wilson fell off in an earlier showjumping class, dislocating her shoulder, but still competed in the final.

“I had to make a few last minute changes to my freestyle, but it was all amazing,” she said.

Meanwhile, Fagan plans to continue to train Rock Star in the hope of more performances in the future. And some of her better students will also have a chance to compete on him.

“I am very stoked . . . and will be for a wee while,” she said. “The journey was the nicest thing . . . I really enjoyed that. He proved just how much you could do I a very short period of time.”

Twelve Kaimanawa horses took part in the challenge at HOY, competing over the three days to find the top

Fagan's children, one-and-a-half year old Twyla and nearly three-year-old Hannah are both little riders and love to spend time with Rock Star – generally it is Hannah leading Twyla who is perched a top the horse.

Chairman of the Kaimanawa Heritage Welfare Society Elder Jenks said the challenge had been a brilliant success.




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