Mikaela is a talented and hard working Showjumper and is one of SA’s leading young riders.
Why did you start horse riding?
I was born into animals, with my dad being a vet and my mom the owner of Penbritte Equestrian Centre, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by animals. My mom was not sure if I would like horse riding and decided to leave me to decide for myself. If I wanted to ride, I had to start like everyone else. I learnt on school ponies and had to do several chores on the farm. My love for riding began with the animals and just being with horses.
Tell us about your achievements?
Once I rode well enough, I could pick a school pony as my own. I started lessons and shows on Midnight and progressed to Penbritte Turkish Delight. I schooled her and Bella to the 1.10m Pony Rider classes. When Penbritte’s Turkish Delight (Pinkie) got injured, I took on a very quirky pony Dapple Apple who although very talented was anxious at shows. He taught me patience and never to give up. After a few people saw me struggle on Dappy, I was offered 3 amazing ponies to sit on. I chose Bronze Master, the most incredible little pocket rocket anyone could wish for. The first day I rode him at home, he gave me a bloody nose just before bucking me straight off. I realized that I would have to learn to sit him and fast! I was lucky enough to win many championships and victor ludorums on Pinkie, Golden Dreamer and Bronze Master.
In 2018, I won both the championship classes and victor ludorum on both Golden Dreamer (90cm PR) and Bronze Master (1m PR). I was also in the Gauteng Intermediate Equitation team and jumped Dapple Apple in the 1.10m PR classes.
2019, was my best year. I took on a young warmblood we bred and started to produce and compete him. Bronze Master won several open championships for me and we won SA open 1.10m PR champs. We jumped double clears in the Open Pony rider team event and won most stylish rider. Penbritte Quick also had a great show placing in all his classes and coming 3rd in a very competitive championship class.
2020 was a bitter sweet year as I decided to retire Bronzie and go for the junior and children classes. I came 2nd at President’s cup and SA Youth champs in the 1.10m Children’s open classes with my young horse Penbritte Quicksilver and I also jumped Cosmic Girl in the 1.20m.
How to you prep your horses?
My horses are well cared for and we ensure their diets include top feed such as Epol, along with joint supplements if needed and a balanced training program. This includes, trotting, track work, flat work schooling and jumping helps them to stay healthy and to enjoy their work. We have a great farrier who takes care of their feet and we make sure they are fit and enjoying their work.
I love doing jumping tracks as my horses are very different and I must understand each of their best canter rhythms and preferences which I cannot learn while doing lines. I do however like to do grid and gymnastic work between shows just to keep my horses supple and strong in their bodies.
What are your future hopes?
I am extremely excited about 2021! I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride one of Leoni van der Burgh’s horses, The Burgh’s Balle as well as my new horse Penbritte For Cruise, while Penbritte Quicksilver gains experience in the ring.
What do you think is the key to your success?
I love my horses and I think my success has been down to the fact that I spend hours with my horses. I groom them, tack them up and hose their legs after exercise. I believe they will do more for you if they have a bond with you. I also like to be organized, so I clean and pack my own tack and draw up a weekly schedule to balance school work and riding times.
Being organized, knowing I packed my own stuff and trained sufficiently for a show helps keep me calm. I make sure that I stay ahead with school work and summarize all my work to make exam times less stressful so that I can continue training during exams. If I would like to continue with horses I need to study for a suitable career to fund my horses, so school work is important.
My motto has always been “Practice like you have never won and perform as if you have never lost”.
Loving and understanding horses is what motivates me and setting goals are what drives me.