Going extra mile leads to trip of lifetime

Lucy Harrex (20) clears a fence on Saphie at the South Island showjumping championships in...
Lucy Harrex (20) clears a fence on Saphie at the South Island showjumping championships in Rangiora earlier this year. PHOTO: BELLA MAITLAND PHOTOGRAPHY
All the hours on the road will soon be worth it for Lucy Harrex.

In the real sense, that road has led the 20-year-old nursing student home to Alexandra.

She travels back from Dunedin every second week to train on her horse, Saphie.

That is certainly not an insignificant commitment.

In the metaphorical sense, though, that road has led her much further afield.

Harrex is bound for Brazil next month, having been selected alongside eight other New Zealanders to train and compete with some of the world’s best show jumpers.

She applied for a trip run by Otago showjumping coach and tour operator Lucy Olphert.

It was open to riders worldwide, who submitted their riding CVs.

"It was a big surprise," Harrex said.

"It was open to everyone, so I wasn’t really expecting it. Especially coming from a really small town, you don’t really expect stuff like this to happen.

"I’m really excited to watch a new culture of riding. I think it will be quite different to here.

"And to travel to a new country — no-one’s been able to do that lately. I’m excited for all of it — to compete and look around over there will be amazing."

Harrex is coming off a fantastic season last year.

She claimed firsts at the one-day events in Oreti, Central Otago and McLeans Island, in Christchurch.

She was also the equal top-scoring senior rider at the South Island showjumping championships in January.

Harrex was also in the Otago-Southland eventing team, which finished fourth at the national championships last year and was also set to go to Horse of the Year, before it was cancelled.

Those were only her most recent successes, though.

Harrex has been riding since she was 7, having followed her parents and sister into the sport.

She played a variety of sports growing up in Alexandra, notably hockey, netball, basketball and rugby.

Since moving to Dunedin, she has kept going with hockey, while going the extra mile — quite literally — to keep riding.

"It’s way harder," she said.

"When I left to go to uni, I thought that would be the end of it. It just stuck with me.

"Mum’s been really helpful. She tries to keep my horse fit for me. When I can, I come home to train and compete.

"I do still love it, so it’s something I want to make work with nursing."