Meet Ashra

As an experienced teacher I am dedicated to supporting horse and rider partnerships at all levels.

Despite a professional teaching career and degree in visual arts, the obsession with horses that started during my childhood has never left me.

My Arts degree led to a teaching degree and I have now spent 15 years teaching Art, Design & Photography at secondary level. Life has a funny way of showing you where your strengths are and I gravitated to teaching due to a love and passion for Art & Photography, but, as it turns out - I actually really thrive in a teaching environment. 

My equestrian interests are fairly varied as I have pursued dressage, eventing and horsemanship over many years.

This paired with a genuine love of teaching people has led me down the coaching path and I find myself relishing opportunities to coach people in flatwork, jumping and horsemanship - as much as I love training and schooling horses in these areas.

As a trained educator I have a great tool box to draw from which enables me to find ways to interpret and communicate in my coaching and I get a huge kick out of helping riders to achieve their goals - in whatever shape or form these may be.

At the end of the day, horses will always be a passion for me.

There is a quote I like “something about the outside of a horse is really good for the inside of a man”. I think that quote is so true for so many equestrians (man and woman of course!) - there is that little bit of magic that our horses bring to our lives, that special something that is so enriching.

I love nothing more than helping and coaching people so that they can add to their existing knowledge base and continue to grow with their horses.

I see every day as a learning opportunity and myself as a lifelong learner... especially where horses are concerned.

Sunrise over Te Rangi

Where my journey with horses began

I'd love to introduce the horses who taught me - you can read about them here

Like so many families with horse mad kids we didn't have a lot of money, but we had horses. I felt then, and still, feel now, that I was the luckiest kid alive.

Dad came across a horsemanship trainer - Taukiri Te Whata - and worked with Taukiri to start one of our home-bred horses under saddle. This was really the beginning of the horsemanship journey for me. I was pretty fascinated with some of the things I saw Taukiri doing when he worked with a horse and I soon began reading about Bill Dorrance, Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. We had a channel on sky TV at the time called Country TV and I used to flip between watching Pat Parelli and Grand Prix dressage.  My fascination grew and I soon followed on and joined the Parelli online group and learned Pats “7 games of horsemanship”.

I decided that I would buy a horse to start under saddle myself. I found a cute 3 year old appaloosa and bought him. As far as teachers went Merle was - and still is - one of the best. 

I worked with Taukiri to start Merle under saddle learning how to ground work, how to work with a flag, how to park and use the top of the round pen to introduce a horse to the idea of you being above them before you got aboard. The skills I learnt working with a horse from the ground were invaluable for starting Merle's ridden life. 

I also started riding another home bred horse of ours called Tucker, by Mighty Heights out of Golden Feather. 

Merle & Tucker at home on the farm

As I continued on the horsemanship journey my passion for eventing also re-ignited and I started competing Tucker with some success in eventing and slowly brought him up the grades from 80 to 105 eventing. Alongside this I competed Merle in dressage and found that he had quite an aptitude for it. He was always a nice mover and as he became stronger in his body and developed in his training he became quite competitive at level 1 and 2 and even held his own at level 3. 

Competing with Merle at Auckland Manukau Dressage

I continued to pursue horsemanship attending several Dromgool Horsemanship clinics where I was able to consolidate a lot of the earlier horsemanship I had learnt with Taukiri. I had attended Equitana in Melbourne the year prior to my first horsemanship clinic with Ken Dromgool and at Equitana I encountered Double Dan Horsemanship. I was pretty taken with what these 2 Aussie horsemen could do so I spent break times at clinics pestering Ken to teach me some tricks and liberty techniques and eventually he gave in.

Ken warned me that it was a bit like learning how a magician does a trick - once you know the magic is a little lost - and I agree to some extent but I still love teaching tricks and liberty and I know Ken does too. Ken fueled the fire and empowered me with some great learning about tricks, liberty and all things horsemanship related.

I taught Merle and Tucker to both play with me at liberty in the round pen, run to a mark and to step all 4 feet up onto a box pedestal. Although I taught the horses these things purely because I was interested in what I could achieve with horsemanship, I often found the techniques around these activities beneficial for all kinds of practical applications including floating and safe handling. 

I now have 2 young horses on my current team, which I have brought on from green. Willow is a 7 year old Hanoverian x Swedish warmblood mare by Worldly and Hoot is a 6 year old Tb by Thewayyouare. New journeys, new beginnings and new teachers. I am still pursuing my passion for eventing and continue utilizing and balancing the training for eventing with my love of horsemanship.