Two years ago Hannah van Niekerk arrived at Sunny Park Stables with her gorgeous grey pony Tiara, bucket loads of grit and determination, heaps of talent and very little experience in the saddle. After a few months Nicola quickly realised that the perfect pony for Hannah was one currently enjoying retirement… and it was time to bring him out of it.
The Scooby Doo and Hannah partnership started off with a few hiccups. Scooby Doo is a legend in his own right, competing in the Young Riders Series with his old owner Bianca Steytler and beating 1.40 Warmblood imports. Scooby does things a certain way and he quickly taught Hannah exactly how he planned to win classes for her. She had to get used to letting him take the lead while still respecting her involvement.
Watching the partnership develop has been a special experience for all involved. More so because of Hannah’s young age and relative lack of “saddle time”. Within a year the pair have blossomed into a partnership contending for some of the biggest titles in the country. Scooby and Hannah were in top form on Day 1 of the 2016 South African Showjumping Pony Rider Derby and entered the big Bob Charter oozing control, collection and confidence.
Hannah claimed first place on day 1 of the show and continued to rake in the results as the weekend progressed. On the final day Hannah jumped a beautiful clear with Scooby, the only of the competition, to claim the title of 2016 South African Showjumping Pony Rider Derby Champion!
Sunny Park is incredibly proud of this fantastic achievement and want to wish Hannah and Scooby the biggest of congratulations. On winning, Hannah was tasked by SA Showjumping to look after Harry the horse and raise awareness for Highveld Horse Care Unit. Hannah took her role very seriously and is now making horse plushies and selling them to raise money for HHCU. Not only a Champion but also giving back!