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Oscar Gumbley on Kenny, left, Arlo Gumbley on Skye, Lee Gumbley and Mara Gumbley on Blue. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Grabbing opportunity by the reins

Lee Gumbley “couldn’t believe” the demand for horse riding lessons after advertising a new riding school in December last year.
The former Paeroa early childhood education teacher told The Profile she and farrier husband Mark established Huikaia Horses at their 8.5 acre Maratoto, Hikutaia, property to turn a hobby into a business.
“All my working life before I was an early childhood teacher I worked with horses and thoroughbreds on stations doing mustering and everything, so I kind of built a skill set while teaching,” she said.
“I thought why not combine it and give it a go so I made a Facebook page up and put it out there and I spent the next two days filling up a diary with bookings.
“I couldn’t believe the demand for it out there.”
Lee said Huikaia Horses, which is named after an orchard and showjumper owned by Mark’s family, offered a range of equine riding services. “We do horse experiences for people who just want to come in and have a go, weekly or fortnightly lessons, and I also do lessons on people’s own horses so they have their own horses and I can come to them,” she said.
“We’re also going to do pony rides at birthday parties.
“I’m not teaching anything fancy grand prix dressage, it’s more just being able to enjoy the horses you’ve got or just getting out there and having fun and being capable.”
Lee said she had also received inquiries from competent riders who no longer own horses who would like to “go for a nice hack” and has talked with landowners about riding over their properties.
“I’ve had lots of people just reaching out wanting to support us and it’s blown me away so the community support has been awesome,” she said.
“Most of my clients are school kids so I’m filling up after school time, it’s chocka, and I’m doing Saturday’s as well. I’m also trying to keep Sunday’s free unless it’s just the one off so I could spend time with my kids.
“Because part of the idea of doing this was that it means that I’m available to my kids, because doing long hours they felt like they hardly saw me so with [Huikaia Horses] they can come out and see me.”
Lee said there were “millions” of benefits for people who work with horses.
“I think with horses it touches so many bases because there’s that discipline side of it, you’re working with an animal that you get angry and frustrated with,” she said.
“They teach you you’ve got to have patience, the better your dispositions are the better their dispositions become too. I think for kids it’s a great tool to have to help with managing emotions and getting successes from that so I think there’s millions of benefits working with horses.”