Dream Come True for Young New Zealand Rider At Show Horse Council Grand Nationals

We all dream of being declared National Champion at the inaugural Show Horse Council Grand Nationals Horse and Rider Championships. For one hardworking little New Zealand rider Charli Sabine her dream would come true.

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Each year Sydney International Equestrian Centre is home to perhaps one of the most prestigious show horse events of the calendar year. Chandeliers, international judges and four days of the best competition Australasian Show Horse and Riding has to offer.

The 2019 Hufglocken Grand National Saddle Horse and Rider Championships, held on the 26th to the 30th of March, saw riders far and wide competing in their qualified events.

Charli Riding Cimeron Prince Charming. Photo Credit Lorelle Mercer Photography

Charli Riding Cimeron Prince Charming. Photo Credit Lorelle Mercer Photography

Young rider Charli Sabine of Pukekohe, Auckland New Zealand secured her ticket to the 2019 Grand Nationals when she attended the New Zealand Show Horse Council Show at Taupo.

Charli was awarded Champion Rider 6 Years and Under 9 Years qualifying her to compete in the 2019 Grand Nationals Saddle Horse and Rider Championships.


In the saddle since she was five Charli rides and competes, in New Zealand, her own pony Windermere Tiara. Charli also campaigns ponies for other people under the watchful eye of her coach Nicolette Butcher.

Charli’s mum Kirsten is originally from an eventing background so getting into showing was never really on the cards.

Charli began her riding career on a welsh pony and once Kirsten felt she couldn’t teach her more than she already had she took her to Nicolette for lessons.

Igniting Charli’s passion for showing Nicolette, referred to as Charli’s ‘Show Mum’, has played a prominent role in Charli’s show ring success.

From coaching Charli to lending her the gear to get her started. Nicolette even providing Charli the ride on different show ponies.

So, it was no wonder that when Charli qualified to compete at Nationals Nicolette would make the trip over to Australia with her.

Charli, Kirsten, Nicolette and the family traveled over for the week to represent New Zealand in the riding class.

Charli and Coach Nicolette Butcher. Photo Credit Lorelle Mercer Photography

Charli and Coach Nicolette Butcher. Photo Credit Lorelle Mercer Photography

Competing against a field of fifteen other qualified riders from Australian states Charli was awarded the title of Grand National Champion Rider 6 Years and Under 9 Years.

Not only was the young riding talent declared Champion, she would also make history and become the first ever New Zealand rider to win a riding title at Grand Nationals here in Australia.    

Charli with her 2020 Grand National Ticket

Charli with her 2020 Grand National Ticket

Charli rode, Dominique Schultz and the families Cimeron Prince Charming known as Harry.

“The owners of Harry, Dominique, Jane and Wynter were very generous and kind, we’ve made great friends with them” said Kirsten.

Paul Austin worked with Show Horse Council New Zealand to pair Charli and Harry together and according to mum Kirsten “he did a fantastic job”. Harry was an absolute gentleman for Charli to ride both in the rider class and for ‘The Night of Stars’.

“We couldn’t of asked for a better mount they clicked really quickly” said Kirsten.

To sit in the grandstands and hear Charli’s name called out for the Championship was the last thing Kirsten and the team ever expected to happen.

“It was totally unreal, it was the last thing I ever expected, I was in utter shock” said Kirsten.

Charli, all smiles, said “It feels really good to be the first New Zealand rider to win a riding class at Grand Nationals, and it was a dream come true to be awarded the title”.

Charli’s dad Luke watched the class from the Equestrian Live Stream but decided to make the trip over for ‘The Night of Stars’ after Charlis’ win.

On occasion Charli trains with well renowned coach Les Friend (Les Friend Riding Academy) and well-known and successful Queensland rider Paul Austin when they run clinics in New Zealand.

Les Friend, who generously dedicates his time to helping young riders everywhere, gave Charli two lessons prior to the rider class and even stayed to help Charli warm up for ‘The Night of Stars’.

Charli’s success at the 2019 Grand Nationals secured her spot to return and compete for second year in a row.

When I asked Charli if she would be returning in 2020, she said she had already started saving for it.

“I’ve been giving people lessons and riding ponies to save money” said Charli.

I think its safe to say that Charli, family, and connections had a fantastic Grand Nationals Saddle Horse and Rider Championships for 2019.

Kirsten and Charli would like to make a special thank you to the connections that made it possible for Charli to compete this year.

Article written by Becc Harnas.

Special Mention to Lorelle Mercer Horse Photography & Design. Jill Seamer Photography for photographs used in the publication of this article.


Charli being awarded Champion Rider 6 Years and Under 9 Years

Charli being awarded Champion Rider 6 Years and Under 9 Years

Charli and a Mum, Kirsten Seamer

Charli and a Mum, Kirsten Seamer

Charli and good friend Wynter

Charli and good friend Wynter

Charli and Team Preparing for her class

Charli and Team Preparing for her class

Charli pictured with coach Les Friend

Charli pictured with coach Les Friend

Becc Harnas