Katikati equestrian rider celebrates big win

Kayla riding her Arab pony named Karaka. Photo: Kerry Rowe Photography.

Protein bars, a 2am start and a 11-hour ride on horseback has led to Kayla Warbrooke winning the highest overall distance for the season at the Distance Riding NZ prizegiving.

Kayla is now the proud winner of the Youth Combination Award, after clocking up a whopping total of 633km for the season.

Her impressive distance was helped by her first ever 120km ride at the 2023 Renegade Hoofboots DRNZ championships, held in Taupo earlier this year.

The track consisted of four loops, ranging from 40km to 20km. The speed of Kayla's ride was at 10 to 13km per hour, and was completed by Kayla in 11 hours and 42 minutes.

'It was such a foggy morning at the champs, me and my friend got lost a few times but got back on track quickly,” says Kayla.

'You have to manage your horse carefully and make changes if needed to your original plans to ensure that your horse is going to be able to successfully complete the ride.”

Karaka, Kayla's horse, loves endurance, according to the 17-year-old.

Kayla riding her Arab pony named Karaka. Photo: Kerry Rowe Photography.

'[Karaka], never seems to want to slow down so it's really fun to do something that we both enjoy a lot.

'What I like about riding is being able to see stuff you wouldn't normally be able to see.”

Kayla began endurance riding with Distance Riding NZ in 2021. Her mother, Kirsten Warbrooke, says she is incredibly proud of her daughter's achievement.

'I got sucked in and bought her a pony. It was far to smart for someone who isn't a pony person like myself. Arab ponies are very opinionated, and are a little bit naughty, but Karaka absolutely loves the endurance riding.

'She has a great base level of fitness. One time at a riding camp, someone commented that the horse was really fit and we should try endurance riding, and that's how it all started.

'Most people sell their ponies as they get older, but Kayla has kept hers, and its made them have a really good bond.”

The 17-year-old was also awarded a badge for completing her first 1000km on horseback, and is looking forward to completing both hers and Karaka's first 160km in April, which will see her getting on horseback at midnight for another long haul ride.


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