Maree McAteer – President and Education Officer

Maree McAteer is a well respected international Working Equitation trainer, rider and judge based in both New Zealand and Colorado, USA. She is a key influence in developing this discipline as a sport within New Zealand.

Maree grew up in New Zealand in a horse crazy family. She started in Pony Club, was an Eventing rider then settled passionately into Showjumping. Twice winner of Lady Rider of the Year and also representing New Zealand against Australia. At 17 yrs old she flew two horses to England to compete for a summer. Highlights being 4th in Welsh Derby and competing at the Horse of the Year show in Wembley.

In 1983 Maree flew with horses from NZ to the United States and took on a position as a professional Showjumping rider. After many years of ‘life on the road’ all over the US and Canada, the draw to spend more time training got stronger. This started a fascination with all the different horse ‘training systems’. Classical Dressage, Competition Dressage, Natural Horsemanship, Doma Vaquero, California Vaquero, Philippe Karl School of Lightness, as the main ones studied. Twenty years ago Maree discovered Working Equitation at the time that it was first adopted into England from Europe. The format impressed her in that it gave people from all different training systems a place to show off their horses. The use of Working Equitation together with a growing understanding of how horses work through dissection science and the biomechanics of both horses and riders leads to the present day of this exciting and ongoing journey.

Kirsty Ansell – Secretary

My name is Kirsty Ansell. I transitioned to WE about 4 years ago & haven’t looked back. I am one of the founding members of WE North Waikato now based in TeKauwhata & have helped to develop WENZ Inc. I have a very understanding husband who is roped in to help at our training days & an occasional groom to 2 feisty  pinto mares.  

While I enjoy riding WE, I really enjoy helping & supporting riders at our training days & seeing each rider learn & improve their skills. WENZ Inc. has an exciting year ahead & I look forward to being a part of this.

Belinda Rodriguez – Marketing and Communications, Interim Health and Safety Officer

Hi, I’m Belinda Rodriguez. I came to Working Equitation in 2017, having prior to that been an Equestrian Vaulting coach and involved in performing with equines among other things. My equine partner, Hugo in the picture, (now retired) with his gentle nature has been a super horse for me to learn this sport.

I have also been part of Pony Club with my children and started there myself many years ago, competing in Eventing as a main discipline. I founded and managed the Waimauku Vaulting Club as well as having an active role on the committee to support the New Zealand Vaulting team competing in the 2019 World Championships in Europe. I am a founding member of WENZ and provide IT support and Marketing expertise coming from these roles in my career. Recently I have co-founded Virtual Working Equitation with Maree McAteer, that aims to provide a format for educating and promoting Working Equitation in New Zealand, running online competitions and webinars.

Working Equitation captured me fully as the “thing” that I had been looking to find in the Equestrian world. I find the training aspect of Working Equitation very appealing and that it fits well with classical dressage concepts which have taken my interest in the past few years. From that time after discovering this discipline, I have been concentrating on involving myself in the Working Equitation community and helping to support the development of this sport within New Zealand.

John Cram – Treasurer

I enjoy our horses, helping out with being a hay hero and keeping our lifestyle block horse friendly. Also wanted to assist the establishment of WENZ so put my name forward as treasurer. Kim and I are both very keen to help this sport advance.

Kim Cram – Assisting Secretary

My interest in horses has been life long and varied.

Starting with weekly riding lessons at five so I would be able to enjoy a four-day horse trek through the Norwegian mountains at six. I remember the horses being hobbled at lunch time and one afternoon the loudest thunder storm was over us .… Thor really was riding his goat drawn chariot in those clouds…. The horses didn’t spook and I had my first understanding of working horses.

I bring to WENZ experience of stock work, pony club, showing. Show hunter, hunting, show jumping, dressage and the simple pleasures of enjoying my own horses. In recent years the desire to learn how a horse can best function and maintain itself into older age well, has led me to study biomechanics, and learn myofascial release, kinesiology taping and really embrace the training scale of working equitation.

I love that any breed, age or type of horse can come and with the right training be competitive at this sport. Currently in New Zealand WE. allows many different people to have fun and enjoy the journey of honouring the horse with purpose to its training.

Jo Bard

Jo has worked at multiple international training yards throughout England, Portugal and Ireland, training and competing in several equestrian disciplines, including Working Equitation.

Her specific involvement in Working Equitation spans back to 2004, including representing Great Britain in 2007. Jo currently resides in Cambridge and operates Mystery Creek Lusitanos, breeding, riding, competing and schooling, as well as offering clinics, instruction and demonstrations. She has three Lusitano stallions as well as two purebred mares and prides herself in breeding top quality horses for the sport horse market, that excel in both trainability and temperament. Jo has owned her foundation stallion, Xerife from 3mths old and personally trained him through to top level dressage and masters level Working Equitation.Jo is passionate about promoting Working Equitation and ensuring a good understanding of this fast-growing discipline. Jo has a full Working Equitation course set up at her stud in Cambridge and is always willing to help others improve their own knowledge or training in the sport.

Sarah Blackburn

I discovered Working Equitation in 2012 and fell in love. Disappointed by the direction competitive Dressage was heading in, I was thrilled to find a discipline that fostered and rewarded true harmony and partnership between horse and rider, promoting progressive training with the utmost respect for the horse’s mind and body. This is something I am very passionate about. 

In 2013 I travelled to Australia to train with Gillian Kennerley, who founded the first Working Equitation organisation in Australia. I spent several weeks over the next few years training with Gill and was certified as a WE trainer with Working Equitation Australia. 

Then in 2015 I asked Kim Peterson to come to NZ to teach a clinic. Since then, Kim has become my mentor and friend. I have visited Australia numerous times to train with Kim and up until Covid, I hosted her for clinics 2-4 times a year. I also attended a workshop with WAWE President Joao Duarte along with a clinic taught by Eduardo Almeida in Sydney. 

In Australia I have coached at several large WE camps, with up to 70 riders attending. These camps are followed by 4 day WE competitions, of which I have competed in once and judged at on three occasions. I have attended several judging clinics with Kim Peterson; one with WAWE judge, Antonio Vincente; and with WAWE judge, Wayne Hipsley. I have been asked to coach and/or judge at the Cross Nations Camp and Cup on three occasions. 

In 2018 I attended the Working Equitation World Championships in Munich. While in Germany I had lessons with WAWE judge – Andrea Janisch and German team coach – Christian Laukemper. 

I have been teaching WE clinics and training days in NZ, almost every other weekend for the last 7 years and have introduced hundreds of riders to the discipline in the South Island. I also run competitions 3-4 times each year. 

In 2012 I completed the Equitation Science International Associate Diploma, endorsed by Dr Andrew McLean. I am a certified coach in NZ; body worker with Equinology Inc; and WE judge with Working Equitation Down Under. Along with ethical training using learning theory, correct rider and horse biomechanics are of particular interest to me. I have hosted Thirza Hendriks for several clinics and am a student on her online course. This knowledge greatly influences me as a coach, trainer and judge. 

My main reason for wanting to be involved on the committee is to have some input into the development of the levels and their associated rules. I have learned a great deal through observing the development of WE in Australia and the USA and feel that I can assist in pointing out some of the stumbling blocks already encountered by other countries. 

I am also committed to ensuring the horse is always put first. I do not believe that trainers should be accredited by or affiliated with the governing body without stringent assessment of their training principles and practice, along with their Working Equitation knowledge and experience. 

Abby Letteri

Abby holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). Her poetry and essays have been published in literary magazines both in print and on-line. Her memoir, down they forgot, traces her American childhood in the turbulent 1960s and 70s, and will be forthcoming in 2021.

She divides her time between a small farm with 11 horses, 2 dogs and a geriatric cat and a home in town with her filmmaker/astronomer husband and another geriatric cat. She has an adult daughter who is also a keen horsewoman. Life without animals is unthinkable to Abby.

Abby learned about Working Equitation two years ago and jumped at the chance to “have a go” when Belinda Rodriguez brought her obstacles to the Kapiti Coast for a fundraising event and subsequently agreed to loan the obstacles for several months so that Abby could start a local group. 21 months later, Kapiti Working Equitation Group has 100 members, has run several popular clinics (Maree McAteer, Jody Hartstone and Sarah Blackburn) and held dozens of casual practice weekends. An active member of the Kapiti Group, Tracey Blair, has recently split off with assistance from Abby, and is forming a group in the Manawatu. 

What appeals to Abby about Working Equitation is the progressive and focused training opportunities it provides, based on a classical scale of training with relaxation at the foundation. It is a discipline which focuses on the harmony between horse and rider, in which is it not only possible, but preferable to put the horse’s welfare first.

Liz Brown

 I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for election to the W.E.N.Z committee.
I was invited to be nominated as it was noticed that I had been busy promoting W.E. in the Top of the South region of the South island!

I have been involved with horses for leisure and competitively over the past 50 plus years. My biggest involvement being with dressage. I also competed in eventing, show jumping, showing and side saddle.
Over the years my concern has been the ethical training of the horse and its wellbeing, particularly at competitions.
I was a dressage judge during the 1980s and recently rejoined the judges list again to be a voice for the horse.
I started doing W.E. 3yrs ago and was immediately hooked! Hence my passion for promoting it.
I’m a registered W.E. judge with W.E.D.U.
I’m also a registered Equine Coach and mentor.
I have been involved with many committee’s over the years and fully understand the commitment that is required to promote and support the governance that steers the sport of W.E.
I know I can put wisdom and energy into a National committee whose vision is the wellbeing of the horse and the promotion of a ethical sport making it available to ALL interested New Zealanders .

Pamela Thompson

Otago Working Equitation Group. Awaiting biography.

David Jackson

Franklin Working Equitation Group. Awaiting biography

Emma Kay

Franklin Working Equitation Group. Awaiting biography