Instilling good habits from young age

Malisa Landreth, pictured with her daughters Georgia,6  (left) and Ruby, 4, Dodds, loves the way...
Malisa Landreth, pictured with her daughters Georgia,6 (left) and Ruby, 4, Dodds, loves the way keeping horses encourages discipline and work ethic in young people. PHOTO: ALICE SCOTT
Malisa Landreth grew up learning to ride ponies before she could walk.

Horses have been her life and, alongside farming and family, they continue to be her passion and business.

Ms Landreth’s mother Sharon was, and still is, a qualified Equestrian Sport New Zealand judge and steward. While Ms Landreth had no trouble getting to events, once she was there it was up to her to prepare her mount for riding because her mother would be busy officiating. "It taught me to be very independent, organised and disciplined from quite a young age," she said.

Following equine study at Telford Polytech, Ms Landreth worked horses for several New Zealand representative riders based in the North Island and she has competed in show jumping at Horse of the Year as well as other national competitions.

She then set up her own business Southwood Equestrian, breaking in young horses, reschooling problem ones, as well as trading and selling on behalf.

"When I had my girls, it got too hard trying to fit it all in, so I wound that side of the business down."

She filled the gap with the launch of two horse-related products where she saw there was an opportunity in the market. One is a specialised measuring tape showing horse strides, a useful tool for setting up show jumping courses, and the other is a wooden massage roller for horses.

With two young girls now keen riders, Ms Landreth has found a new element of joy in the sport.

"I have really enjoyed the process of teaching my girls to ride and care for their ponies. I think it’s important to teach them the discipline that’s required; I expect them to do as much of the care as they can. I grew up the same way and I can see now how those skills have transferred into other areas of life."

With the help of her husband Hank, the family set off each weekend last season to compete at A&P shows all over the bottom half of the South Island.

"It was like a family holiday each weekend; we would sleep in the horse truck and the girls made lots of new friends with the other families who were doing the same thing."

She agrees there is a strong element of competition in the horse world "but just like any sport, good sportsmanship is an important part of it."

While her daughters are currently competing in the showring, she hopes they might make the change to show jumping as they get older "where the result is more on how well the horse and rider jump rather than the opinion of one person in the middle’’.

She also coaches other riders basing herself in Alexandra and Mosgiel for a day each week and takes lessons at an arena from her home base in Hyde.

"I really enjoy working with the young riders who perhaps don’t have the most expensive ponies and the flashest gear, but are keen to learn and do well regardless."

By Alice Scott