South-west's state team riders face challenge of unfamiliar horses in New Zealand

SOUTH-WEST Victorian showjumpers Melissa Julius and Kristy Haworth will take on some of the best young riders in New Zealand.

Hawkesdale’s Julius and Mortlake’s Haworth are part of a four-rider Victorian squad which will contest the Victoria-South Island exchange next weekend.

The pair leave for Waimate, south of Christchurch, next week for the January 26 and 27 competition.

Julius, 21, will represent Victoria for the fifth time while Haworth will saddle up for her second state role.

The pair have grown up together, with their friendship strengthened by a shared interest in horses.

“I think I rode before I walked,” said Julius, a stable hand for Warrnambool trainers Bill and Symon Wilde.

“The whole family, they do clerking at the racecourse so I’ve known horses my whole life.

“I can’t imagine life without them. It’s quite funny if you think about what other people do. I can’t imagine not working with horses.”

Haworth, 21, has likewise grown up around horses.

She received her first pony aged 18 months and has followed in the footsteps of her parents.

“I’ve grown up with horses my whole life. My mum and dad both showjumped,” she said. “I’m off a farm at Mortlake. Dad used to train racehorses. Both my mum and dad did.”

Julius, Haworth and their teammates, Birregurra’s Jonathon Smith and Sale’s Zoe Boulton, will ride borrowed horses at the competition.

They will have two attempts at the course on day one before swapping horses with their New Zealand counterparts on day two.

The scores of each rider contribute to an overall team score. The winning team takes home the Juliet Scott Trophy.

Victoria enters the competition — which is part of the South Canterbury North Otago Area Show — as the defending champion.

Julius said being able to succeed on an unfamiliar horse would be crucial to Victoria’s chances.

“You have to find a happy medium in how you ride and how they go,” she said.

“You’re only on them for two rounds. You’ve got to get the best result without trying to fight them.”

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