Tash Bol had her wildest dreams come true when the duo of Bol and her 12-year-old Standardbred Alshain (Earl) took out the ridden section at Horse of the Year 2017.
Earl was retired from being a race horse as a two-year-old from Dean Taylor’s stables and Bol received the gelding roughly five years ago. Bol has been showing for 15 years and has owned a Standardbred since she was just 12-years-old. Travelling from Christchurch made the journey to HOY a long one but Earl had proven that he was good enough to be there prior to HOY.
“He's won a lot of showing events, my friend had him out showing about eight years ago and I was given him roughly five years ago. I did a few shows with quite a few champions and also did quite a bit of dressage with him, unfortunately I left him in the paddock about two years before I realised I needed to do something with him.”
“He had a great season before HOY, champion at Ellesmere and Amberely A&P show and runner up at the Premier show held in Christchurch, out of the five shows he went to he was champion at four”, said Bol.
“It was kind of a last minute decision to take him to HOY, he was doing so well and going so well in the ring I thought stuff it I'm going to make the trip!”
Bol kept things simple leading up to HOY and didn’t change Earl’s routine a whole lot.
“There wasn’t a lot of work, well nothing out of place with his normal routine, I don't really do a lot of schooling in the paddock as he knows what to do and I find he becomes bored (and a bit naughty) so he gets hacked out down to the river and through the forest. About a week away from leaving he had body work done by Joy White and I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Pure Equine who came and gave Earl a lovely body treatment.”
When Bol was announced as the winner at HOY her emotions took over.
“I honestly can't remember what went through my mind, I know I cried, it was pretty awesome, the win meant heaps to me, I'm really proud of all my horses but this was something I probably won't achieve again,” she said.
“The HOY atmosphere is great, I recommend anyone to go and experience it even if just to have a look (and shop), I found the Standardbred ring great and the spectators were supportive and were clapping for everyone. Earl even had a lady come up after the inhand and ask to have a picture with him saying he was her favourite.”
Bol has always had Standardbred’s and doesn’t see them as any different to other horses. She enjoys working with them and developing them to compete over all disciplines.
“I think support for Standardbred’s is good (thanks Standardbred Breeders). I personally think the biggest support needs to come from the competitors themselves though, there is a lot of inhand horses but I think people need to get these horses up and going correctly and get them out under saddle. Unfortunately we will lose the ring in some cases if the support is not there.”
Bol says Standardbred’s are very easy to work with and good to train up in all areas.
“I was probably a bit lucky because a couple of mine were already trained but the one's I've done myself and the ongoing training I've done has been easy. I'm currently competing one at level two dressage and I'd like to take Earl up to level two as well. I actually find them no different to any other breed, I also have x-breds and find my Standardbred’s go just as well as they do, they have a willing nature and want to work.”
“I'd like to thank Pure Equine for Earl's massage, my mother who loves hearing about my successes and my husband who supports me (I had no sponsorship and worked for the funds myself) and has to put up with the horses - he's not a fan and all my friends and all the people who messaged me afterwards and wished me luck beforehand.”
Bol now looks forward to doing some dressage with Earl and also getting him and others qualified for HOY 18, - just in case they go back to defend their title.