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Amy Hay

A true globe-trotter

Text: Amelia Campbell-Horne

Almost every rider would argue that horsemanship is not just a hobby; it is a way of life. That is certainly true of Zimbabwean rider Amy Hay, who began riding as a ‘distraction’ and for whom it has become a passion. With this passion, and a good degree of perseverance, has come success, with Amy recently snatching a ‘big win’ with one of her new rides Othello, when she came home nearly two seconds into the lead of the Burlington Cup 1.35m Championships. HQ had a quick chat with Amy to find out more about her and her horses.

HQ: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with horses? 

Amy: I’m 19 years old, and I’m from Zimbabwe. In 2011, my brother got really sick with cancer, so as a family, we had to move to South Africa. My mom wanted to do something fun to distract me from the situation, so I started riding, and I haven’t stopped since! I jumped my first-ever competition in 2013 on a cheeky little chestnut pony, and to this day, I still love my cheeky little chestnuts.

At the end of 2012, my family and I moved back to Zimbabwe, and that’s when we found Charley Crockart. I competed with my horses and stabled them in Zim until the end of 2020, but we often travelled to South Africa to compete. My first time competing in South Africa was in 2016 at the Easter Festival on my two ponies, Turvey and Toy Story, in the 80cm and 90cm classes, and we travelled back to South Africa every year after that. At the end of 2020, I made the decision to move my horses permanently to South Africa so that I could compete at a higher level, and I haven’t competed in Zim since then.

HQ: But South Africa and Zimbabwe are not the only countries you’ve competed in? 

Amy: Yep, I’ve had the opportunity to compete in a few countries, including Algeria, Morocco, Germany and most recently, the Netherlands, where I spent almost half of this year. I lived and worked with Kevin and Linn Olsmeijer, who were the best family I could have asked for. I worked in their stables and also had the opportunity to work ride a lot of their horses, who were waiting to go into quarantine to come to South Africa. I also had the chance to produce some young horses for them. I went to a couple of shows on my two horses and the young horses and even managed to pick up a few placings.

I loved my time there! It was a lot of hard work with some long days, but I would definitely go back and hope to do so in the future.

HQ: Can you tell us about the string of horses you have now? 

Amy: First of all, I’d like to say thank you so much to my parents for supporting me and my dreams!

I have a few horses now. I still have Capital Lincoln and Riven’s Whirlwind. I also have a six-year-old mare named Cortina RLH Z, who is by Comme Il Faut out of a Quidam de Revel mare. I bought her as a baby and have produced her myself. She is currently jumping in the 1.20m and always has so much fun, but she can be a real madam – a typical chestnut mare! I also have Belle Amie, who is a seven-year-old mare by Blockbuster out of a Balou du Rouet mare. She always gives her all, and I have fallen in love with her. I recently imported her as well as my nine year old gelding Othello van het Keizershof, who is also known as Otto. He is by Harley VDL out of a For Pleasure mare. He is the cheekiest little chestnut gelding I have ever sat on. He is the smallest horse with the biggest attitude. He enjoys bullying me, but I love him so much, and I’m so excited for my partnerships with him and Bella to grow.

FACT: Riven’s Whirlwind was bred by Riven Stud in Zimbabwe and is by their foundation sire Dark Wolf out of a Padinus x Glenaygle Rebel mare. Dark Wolf, who is sadly recently deceased, also sired Riven’s Double Dutch, a five-year-old that jumps in the 1m with Tayla Hayward and Riven’s Dragonsdawn, who is competing successfully in the Western Cape with Kate Rawson.

HQ: What are your goals and plans with your current string? 

Amy: Next year, I would like to get some experience in the higher grades, especially on Otto and Bella. I’d like to be jumping confidently in the 1.45m classes and in some World Cups, as well as producing my younger horses. I’m planning to get Tina up into the 1.35m classes. Keeping my horses happy is the biggest priority, though. Once I have experience in the higher heights, I’d definitely like to go back overseas and make a career of riding over there.

HQ: Any tips for buying/looking for a horse in Europe? 

Amy: Firstly, go with a dealer you trust! Also, very importantly, listen to the advice your coach gives you. I was pretty unsure about one of my horses that I recently imported, but Charley told me that that was the one, and I trusted her. I’m grateful I did because I adore the horse now; I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t trusted her and her advice. Most importantly, get a good vetting! Spend the money on a vetting, or you could waste a lot of money on a horse that doesn’t have a great vetting, so it can’t get you as far as you would have liked.

HQ: As you’ve had experience abroad, do you have any advice for young riders who would like to work/ride in Europe? 

Amy: It is entirely different to here; we are so spoilt with all of the help we get, but if you are willing to work hard, then I think you’ll do alright. If you are planning to go across, and in the winter like I did, prepare to NEVER see the sun and for your hands to be completely numb. It is absolutely freezing when you are riding, and you will probably be really grateful that you have to muck out the stables because it keeps you really warm! Most of my days consisted of waking up, feeding horses at 7.30am, mucking out, doing the hay and bedding, sweeping the whole barn, and putting the horses in and out the walker and the field. We did have a coffee break around 9.30am, and then we got to riding. We then had lunch, rode some more and then put horses in and out the fields and did the hay and the sweeping and feeding… Your days are definitely busy; you don’t have time to get bored! But if you can work hard, then you will love it. I loved my time there, and I recommend going overseas as you gain so much experience and your horsemanship will improve!

HQ: Having competed in various countries, please could you share your experience of them?

Amy: I really enjoyed competing all over – some places more than others. The equestrian industry in the Netherlands is just on a whole other level. Everything is so accessible; you could go to a show almost every day of the week, not just at weekends. We even went to a show on a Tuesday! South Africa has a big equestrian industry, and it is definitely getting bigger, which is really exciting; however, over here, we don’t get nearly as many opportunities as you do overseas.

Germany (Aachen) was an incredible opportunity that not everyone gets, so I am so thankful I was chosen to represent Zimbabwe at the Youth Equestrian Games.

Algeria was just crazy! We were all running around and sharing tack, but thankfully, I always take my saddle wherever I go, so at least I have something I am used to! So, a little tip from experience is that if you are going to compete in another country, try to find out what tack is available, and if you are riding a borrowed horse, make sure you talk to the owners and the grooms about what the horse is like.

At the end of the day, everywhere is so different, but I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to travel and compete all around the world.

HQ: We can’t wait to hear about where you get to ride next and your journey with your horses.