Clarke's back! | An Eventful Life

Clarke's back!

      Let's check out the weather in the UK and in New Zealand ...................


So now its time for my more or less annual blog for AEL! Soon to be much more regular – or that is the plan anyway.

A lot has happened since I was last in touch. Probably the biggest thing being that I have moved back to live in New Zealand from the UK after a fairly disastrous couple of years on the injury front. The final catalyst for the move was losing Incognito to a paddock accident leaving me without a top level horse, which was a devastating blow. So it became clear that I needed to move back to NZ to rebuild.

And a great decision it has turned out to be! Aside from missing the miserable English winter, I have got a yard full of very, very, nice horses here all of whom I am excited about. The majority of them are youngsters but recently I was very lucky to be able to buy Balmoral Sensation (below) from Donna Smith which has added a 3 Star level horse to the team. He is a super nice horse and I am hoping he lives up to his name! We had a promising first start together at Hunua and will hopefully be ready to do the CIC*** at Horse of the Year show next month.



I am renting a yard off Gary and Anne Marie Brown (parents of Lizzie Brown) on the North side of Hamilton. It is a beautiful spot and comes with lovely landlords so we the people are happy and the horses are very happy there too! There are three of us working at the yard;  myself, a working pupil, Maddy Crowe and my groom Asti Trouland. Maddy has two horses with her and is aiming for the Young Rider Trans Tasman team to go to Melbourne in June so we are working towards that with our first major event of the season coming up this weekend at the NZ Young Rider Championships. Asti has only recently started (which Maddy and I were thrilled about as we were doing 12 and I had been away doing a lot of teaching leaving poor Maddy at home by herself). Asti is from the West Coast of the South Island so is finding living in the ‘big smoke’ of Hamilton a bit of a culture shock, much to our amusement, but she is a great girl and we are really enjoying having her on the team. Asti also comes with ‘Chowder’ the pug dog. What can I say?!


I have more or less a whole new team of horses now including a very exciting prospect in the form of Sportsman II, owned by Rhys and Antoinette Powell. ‘Sporty’ is an 8yr old Thoroughbred by His Royal Highness, the new super sire of TB event horses in New Zealand. He has had a career as a jumper after racing and has jumped up to 1.35m with his owner Kirk Meyers and has now had another career change to eventing. Rhys bought the horse initially for his wife to ride but I managed to intercept him before he made it to the plane to Perth where they live, sorry Ant! We have had two starts at CNC105 level for two double clears and 68 and 70% in the dressage after only a month or so together so off to a good start and we believe this horse has all the ability to go all the way.


I have a smart 4yr old out of the same mare as Incognito owned by Janene Maxwell who has been a fantastic supporter of mine and we are both excited about Zac’s future. It is really nice to have the link to Incognito. Zac has the most fantastic attitude and also has a bit more in the movement department than Ollie (Incognito) did, being by the Hanoverian Grand Prix jumping horse Centavos. We are aiming to have his first start at Puhinui in 3 weeks.


I rode a 6yr old horse Cavorts to 2nd place in the Pre Novice class at Puhinui 3DE in December and have been lucky enough to keep the ride on this horse due to his regular rider Emily Cammock having a baby. Taxi as he is known at home is owned by Kay Buckley from Canterbury and we are giving him his first start for the season this weekend. Interestingly he looks almost exactly like Sportsman so that could cause some confusion down the track when they are out competing the big stuff together!


I also have two lovely 5yr old Thoroughbreds, Kevin and Rufus (Sartorial and Riverhawk when they are ready to go to a show) who were given to Mum, Dad and I by Mark Harris who has been a great family friend for many years and who trained them both on the track. And there are two mares who I bred, Bella and Legs (in need of names for the show). They are both out of a nicely bred TB mare and by Lansing and Littorio respectively, Holstein stallions who stand at stud in Christchurch and who are producing some great progeny. These mares are both great jumping or eventing prospects and are 4 (Bella) and 6 (Legs) years old and are for sale if anyone is interested!


Clarke Johnstone


And to finish the team off I have Quainton Labyrinth (above)and Call Me Al who both came back from England with me in December and who are also enjoying skipping the English winter. Especially Bryn (Labyrinth) who was feeling so pleased about it that he dumped me in the show jumping at his first event on NZ soil last weekend. Thanks mate. He redeemed himself slightly with a very classy XC round on Sunday. Call Me Al is owned by Heather and Alan Cato and he is hopefully going to have his first start back in NZ at Kihikihi in April - a favourite event of the Cato’s and mine. Al was ready to go Advanced in England so we are aiming him for Puhinui CCI*** in December.


I have also been travelling all over the country teaching which has been a good experience. I was lucky to get the job of teaching the Junior rider clinics throughout the country run by ESNZ and the last of the 6 clinics is this week in Northland. I think they have been pretty successful and it is a great initiative which I hope keeps running into the future and is well supported. I did make two people cry at the last clinic in Taupo though which wasn’t so good. I’ve never done that before!! Must be nicer this week in Northland.


On that note, bye for now