Tui Teka is turning a rather frustrating situation into a positive. The inaugural EQUITANA Auckland TWOTH champion from 2017 has been sidelined since June and is unlikely to be cleared to get back on a horse before November . . . but don’t think for a moment he will miss EQUITANA Auckland this year.
“For me it is a chance to slow my body down for my mind to catch up on things,” says the 26-year-old who is making the most of the opportunity to create formulas and put programmes in place while he reflects and heals.
However, he’s got a special role to play at EQUITANA as a guest commentator and he’s chuffed to be part of something so dear to his heart.
His annus horribilis started in May at a clinic in Wanaka when he dislocated his left shoulder while working with a young horse. “It got the better of me,” he says, “but it was a lesson learnt.”
A month later he found himself in a worse situation. He was just taking his time recovering from his shoulder injury when another young horse fell on his leg, fracturing his left metatarsal bone. He had surgery to screw his foot back together, followed by 12 weeks in a cast and then into a moon boot . . . where he remains.
“I am coping well,” he says. “I have accepted the reality of the situation and I have to think about the future.”
It’s really the first time he has sat back and reflected on the whirlwind ride he has been on since winning EQUITANA Auckland and starting Tui Teka Better Horsemanship – his business that has gone from strength to strength and put him in demand the nation over. “It seems my services are required in quite a lot of places!”
For now though, his business is on hold and he’s thankful his clients are all very understanding. “I am a very visual learner, so I am doing a lot of observation. You can still be learning when you are not near the horse and we are so lucky with all the social media we have available.”
It was EQUITANA Auckland that gave him the foundation and exposure he needed. “It was the platform to launch myself,” says Tui. “It was a chance to showcase my passion and talent . . . I guess hard work does pay off. When experience meets opportunity, anything is possible.”
He can’t wait to see how the four TWOTH competitors – Australians Georgia Kolovos and Donal Hancock versus Kiwis Amanda Wilson and Andrew Jamison – stack up. “It’s definitely exciting to be a past competitor on the sidelines,” he says. “It gives me the opportunity to look from the outside in.”
He’s got a few words of advice too. “Keep sticking to what you know because it is what you have done that has got you to where you are at now. The biggest challenge I found was to just be myself and not let the atmosphere influence me. Building that relationship with the horse requires a big mental focus.”
He knows Andrew from his time in rodeo and says he’s very humble, optimistic and one who loves a challenge. “He wants to help people by helping horses and this is a great opportunity for him to get in there ang amongst it all.”
Amanda was one who had been born and bred on horses. “She’s the youngest of the three and will no doubt have a lot of influence from Vicky who has been so successful in the big colt starting competition in the United States, winning it twice. This will be a good challenge for Amanda. She is very good at what she knows and does.”
He’s not so up with the Aussies but has no doubt they’ll be bringing their best to the event. He has plenty of praise too for the horses too who are again coming from the Delta Holsteiner Stud. “They were great in 2017 and with a lovely temperament. I had a good understanding of their type and I think Amanda particularly will too. I am looking forward to seeing them all in there.”
And he is counting down the days until he too is back in the saddle doing what he loves.
// EQUITANA Auckland 21-24 November 2019