Ashleigh Mckinstry isn’t perhaps your typical 20 year old, but she has managed to win one of New Zealand’s premier eventing titles, the Puhinui CCI*** with her part Kaimanawa home bred horse, Pioneer Makokomiko. The pig-hunting, horse-shoeing country girl put in a performance none of the older competitors could match.

Ashleigh had enough of a lead to still win despite a rail in the showjumping. She confessed to having a few nerves before the last test in the 3 day competition.

“I was a bit nervous beforehand but I told myself to calm down and focus. Mum told me to keep breathing!”

Donna Smith didn’t show any ill-effects from her nasty spill off Balmoral Sensation during the cross country, and put in a faultless round on Just Chocolate, finishing the competition on her dressage score. Simon Gordon on was third.

Pioneer Makokomiko was bred by the Mckinstry family on their Owhango farm, 45 minutes from Taumarunui. Ashleigh has done all the work on producing the horse herself, and describes him as a real character with an attitude who was quite a handful in his earlier days.

“He was a monster to start with, he bucked both me and Mum off!” Carmel, Ashleigh’s very supportive mother, was very much the proud parent today after her daughter’s win. “

Ashleigh has done it all herself with this horse. The horse is part of the family, he’s so naughty and thinks everything is a joke.”

The remote location of the family farm means that there is no cellphone coverage and no internet access. Ashleigh is hopeful that a new service coming into the area may mean that internet access becomes possible.

The slightly built 20 year old also has the unusual hobby of pig hunting.

“It’s something Dad introduced my sister and I too. I’ve lost count of how many pigs we’ve got.”

Ashleigh also works as a farrier, not just shoeing her own horses, but doing other people’s horses two days a week. She works on the family farm looking after all the stud duties for the resident stallion as well as doing crutching and other duties that come with a sheep farm. The Mckinstrys also have bees as well as the horses and sheep.

The next challenge for Ashleigh is planning her 21st which she is having in January, even though her birthday is in March. “I’m just too busy then with competitions” she says. She certainly has something extra to celebrate now, with the Puhinui CCI*** trophy to show off to guests.

Earlier in the day, the international experience showed as Clarke McKenzie won the Veterinary Associates CCI* on Vincent from Sarah Young on High N Dry.

In the Honda NZ CCI**, Helensville’s Shelley Ross on Coleraine Coaltown were clear winners, finishing without incurring any jumping faults over the competition. Canterbury veterinarian Sam Taylor was runner up with Donna Smith taking out third and fourth.

Full Results Puhinui International Horse Trials CCI*** 
1. Ashleigh Mckinstry, Pioneer Makokomiko, 61.4
2. Donna Smith, Just Chocolate, 63.8
3. Simon Gordon,, 69.4
4. Dannie Lodder, Moochi, 74.8
5. Heelan Tompkins, Cortaflex Ski Whistler, 87

Honda NZ CCI** 
1. Shelley Ross, Coleraine Coaltown, 47.2
2. Sam Taylor, Leo Degas, 56.1
3. Donna Smith, Britannica MVNZ, 58.1
4. Donna Smith, Henton Executive, 60

Veterinary Associates CCI* 
1. Clarke Johnstone, Vincent 50.9
2. Sarah Young, High N Dry, 51.5
3. Jessica Woods, Defies Logic, 54
4. Samantha Felton, Henton After Dark, 55.2
5. Chloe Kennedy, Mustang Molly, 56.1
6. Francesca Silver, Case in Point, 56.7