There is no denying Vicki Wilson is a world-class horsewoman and now the 32-year-old is turning her hand to developing a successful career with thoroughbreds.
Wilson, who has recently joined the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, is one of New Zealand’s best performed showjump riders and has travelled the world competing, educating and entertaining.
Wilson, along with her sisters Kelly and Amanda, first hit mainstream media in 2015 with the popular tv show “Keeping up with the Kaimanawas” following their progress with recently mustered horses and their journey towards domestication.
Her introduction to the thoroughbred industry came working for Group One winning trainer Jeff McVean.
“I did track work 11 or 12 years ago for Jeff and absolutely loved it,” Wilson said.
“We have also always had a lot of thoroughbreds in our showjumping team. Some of my top grand prix horses are thoroughbreds that haven’t made it at the track.
“My foundation broodmare is one of those and she was probably one of the best showjumpers I have ever had.
“The thoroughbreds do give you their heart once you get into their brains, they are neat animals to work with.”
Wilson has spent the last year and a half developing her Hawke’s Bay property and already it is the stuff equestrian dreams are made of. The impressive facilities include a 1000m training track, vet crush and walker, and also boast New Zealand’s first full stable vibrating floor, a water walking pond and solarium.
It is a one-stop shop offering breaking and pre-training, as well as foaling down, agistment and rehabilitation.
“We still have a long way to go,” said Wilson, who as well as being a talented rider is a skilled farrier and therapist using chiropractic and muscle work techniques. “We need to finish the stables and the arena. We just keep building and adding to it as we can.”
Rehabilitation is an important part of Wilson’s business model and the catalyst for taking out her trainer’s license. She makes the 35-minute trip to the Hastings track around once a week to gallop her racing team and has been impressed with the warm reception.
“We have always had a love for thoroughbreds and I started to rehab a couple for owners that came with body issues or problems,” Wilson said. “I started to really enjoy that so I decided to get my trainers license.
“I really enjoy training them, I love track work and jumping them out, rehabbing them and getting them as strong as I can in their bodies and mentally happy as well.
“David Morison is a local guy that has given me a bit of support with rehabbing horses and sending them here. That kick started it and gave me contacts.
“Everyone at the track, Guy Lowry, John Bary, are really supportive and friendly and happy to give ideas and help. I think that is pretty amazing.
“I don’t know a lot about the racing industry, I’m learning as I go and coming from a completely different world but I love what we are doing.
“I keep learning and keep improving as we go.”
Included in the racing team is five-year-old Rip Van Winkle mare Rippin who is gearing up for a raceday return.
“I bought her to become a broodmare and the plan was to put her in foal in the spring,” Wilson said. “But we thought we would see what we can see under saddle with her first.
“She had a bit of success early on and then slackened right off. I think she is a lot stronger mentally and physically now so we will give her a play.”
“Our thoroughbreds do the same work as our sport horses,” she said. “They go on the track, they do a lot of river work, go in the water pool and on the walker. I really believe the horse’s mental health has to be good.”
Wilson is also developing her thoroughbred broodmare band and is enjoying the challenge of mating decisions.
“I have three or four broodmares to breed from this year and some quite nice ones,” Wilson said. “There is a Rip Van Winkle, a Savabeel and an Iffraaj.
“We have a couple ideas of stallions. We are still new to the breeding side of things with the thoroughbreds. I’ll be treating it like the showjumpers in what I am looking for, conformation, pedigree and performance will count.”
“It will be good fun playing to start.”
The determination and skills that have seen Wilson succeed to such a high level in the equestrian world are now being applied to her thoroughbred endeavours and she plans to keep expanding on that aspect of her business.
“We would like to stand a stallion here at some point,” she said. “That would be the plan, we want to keep growing and see how far we can go.” -Amie Best, NZTBA