Development riders at Sunny Park Stables

When you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life! This rings true for every equestrian and many young equestrians build their future around their best friendships – their horses.

Ask any young equestrian what they want to do when they grow up and you will hear every option from riding instructor, yard owner, veterinary surgeon, equine physio, farrier, tack shop owner and even professional course builder. The opportunities are endless but in a third world country, recently downgraded to junk status, where Equestrian sport is deemed ‘elite sport’ these dreams seem harder to reach by the day.  The lack of funding and sponsorships encroaches on the development of this wonderful sport at grass roots level.

Not all hope is lost. Thanks to wonderful kind hearted professionals with an absolute passion to advance the sport, we are able to see some riders with a passion for Showjumping compete in the ring, while developing their talent. A Stable yard in the East rand are boasting with two wonderfully talented riders who are sponsored by Sunny park club president Jason Riley and coached by Nicola Sime-Riley. Musa Maluleke and Lovemore Riet are the latest talent that have become part of the development team at Sunny park Stables. Their experience and training is however not limited to Showjumping but they are actively involved in assisting with stable yard management, course planning and building, schooling of green horses, course walking and warming up of other students before competitions. They are a valuable asset to the yard and many riders and horses benefit from the work they put in.


Both of them have achieved some pretty impressive results in their respective classes and it is well known in the yard that they are the riders to approach when your horse seem to be misbehaving a bit. They both agree that without the assistance of show holding bodies, their competition in the ring would be very limited as they both compete on more than one horse. They are both categorised as EDS development riders and this makes it easier for show holding bodies to waiver the entry fee as no levies are charged.  This whole initiative is an answer to the call from SASCOC to grow the equestrian sport and ensure that transformation leaves a deep footprint in all the structures from managing structures, competitors, coaching, administrative staff and every other structure that exists in the sport. At Sunny park stables, they boast with a very capable and highly experienced stable yard manager in the form of Warrick Sithole.  Warrick’s passion for the wellbeing of horses and his years of experience and hard work, makes him almost indispensable. Warrick had the honours of boasting with his quality of work when he lifted the groom’s trophy after Fulvic Connoisseur was crowned the Grand Prix Champion at the recent Nissan Easter festival that was held in Kyalami. He tirelessly oversees the care and wellbeing of each horse at Sunny park Stables and efficiently manages his team to ensure all horses are competition ready and healthy. Fulvic Connoisseur is a very lucky boy to have been under the wonderful care of the same groom for a period of 10years. John Mbewe is one of the most capable grooms at Sunny Park stables and his commitment to the wellbeing of his horses is evident in their condition.


Nicola Sime Riley is a household name in the Showjumping community and ranked first in 2016 in the open Showjumping category. To her there is nothing more important than advancing the sport she loves and seeing new talent sprout! Developing riders and producing horses is nothing new to her. This can even be seen in her yard, Sunny park stables, where she coaches a young 4 year old Jamie Riley who already cleans up at SANESA shows. Many of the young little riders at Sunny Park achieve wonderful results in their shows and also in multiple disciplines. Nicola currently also coaches open Pony riders, open juniors and open Adult showjumpers. Many Sunny parkers boast with provincial colours and big titles under her watchful eye. Recently one of her open Pony Rider students walked away with the Nissan Easter Festival Pony Rider Grand Prix title. Hannah Van Niekerk and The Scooby Doo have both been developed and brought through the grades under Nicola’s watchful eye and it was when Nicola paired the two up that the magic happened.

Nicola was directly involved in the unorthodox selection criteria, after Musa and Lovemore contacted her to ask if they can join her team. Her method? ‘I put them on the most difficult horses to jump and they sailed over with flying colours’, Nicola admits.  She ascribes their success to the great love for horses and for the sport. Nicola sees this as both of their strongest qualities. ‘They also have a soft way with the horses which helps tremendously especially with the young horses.’  Two wonderful ladies, Karen and Veneshe Scheepers, have helped to provide these riders with lovely horses to compete on. There has been a helping hand from show holding bodies such as Maple ridge Equestrian Farm, Penbritte Equestrian Centre, Fourways Riding Centre and Dunblane Equestrian Centre who have assisted tremendously in the form of wavering entry fees for these riders. A very special word of thanks goes out to Verity Combrink, Belinda Martins, Marion Clough and Bridgette Carels for their support.

Nicola admits that the biggest factor needed to make more of these programmes viable, would have to be Finance. She has developed some of her grooms before but as they are not SA citizens, they could not join EDS and that places even more constraints on the sponsor. This would mean that someone has to take financial ownership of entries. Nicola is passionate about development and would love to develop more riders in the near future but availability of horses and financial support from Sunny park stables alone are limited. It is clear from my discussion with her that more involvement from organisational structures becomes key to the future development of the sport.

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Musa and Lovemore shed some light on their journey so far with Sunny park stables and Nicola.

 Q1. How long have you been riding?

Musa: I started riding when I was 7 years old, which makes it 16 years this year.

Lovemore: I have been riding for 8 years now.

Q2. What is the name of the first horse/pony you rode? 

Musa: My first pony I rode was Jika Majika a chestnut mare. It is because of her I developed a love for horses and riding.

Lovemore: A lovely 15 hand skewbald pony called Jojo.

Q3. Did you compete before you arrived at SunnyPark? 

Musa: Yes, I was a very competitive rider at a time. I collected a couple of rosettes, adding to my collection.

Lovemore: Yes, I competed while I was riding at the Soweto Equestrian centre.

Q4. What made you decide to join the team at SunnyPark? 

Musa: I wanted more experience, riding with a professional is so inspiring you get to learn a lot of new things. At Sunny park there is a lot of focus on quality of service and I appreciate that.

Lovemore: I wanted the experience from a professional’s point of view. At Sunny Park we focus a lot on horsemanship and I think that forms a very important part of riding.

Q5. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from Nicola? 

Musa: That when competing, not to go for a win. Ride to have fun and enjoy it. When you win it’s your bonus.

Lovemore: Do what you do properly or don’t do it at all. Learn to enjoy your riding. If you get a rosette it’s a bonus.

Q6. Where do you see yourself in the Showjumping circuit 5 years from now? 

Musa: I think the same as everyone else, competing against the professionals in the big classes.

Lovemore: I see myself competing in the open classes. I know I can achieve it with a lot of determination.

Q7. Do you wish to make a career in the horse industry? 

Musa: Yes, I would like to have my own riding club one day, helping those who wants to ride and get to know about horses.

Lovemore: I would love to be in Equine health or dealing with horses.

Q8. Do you think that there is sufficient support in South Africa for development riders?

Musa: No unfortunately there isn’t, there are very few individuals that help out where they can. We are very grateful to show holding bodies that help us with entries.

Lovemore: Unfortunately i think the support falls mostly on the shoulders of the person who decides to develop you.

Q9: Where do you think changes can be made in the sport to develop more talented showjumpers? 

Musa: I feel that due to financial constraints the biggest obstacle is finances. More professionals will get involved when our discipline associations can secure more funding for development through sponsorships or government funding.

Lovemore: I feel that a stage needs to be created for development riders. We have fun classes at some festivals and one can incorporate some of these events at big shows. These riders will thrive with recognition and support.

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They both achieved some great results in their last show, the Nissan Easter Festival at Kyalami Park. They also formed an integral part of the team supporting Nicola who took win in the Grand Prix on Fulvic Connoisseur.

Musa achieved the following results: 

4th place 1.00m A2 competition.

2nd place 1.00m two phase.

2nd place 1.10m A2 competition.

5th in 1.00 championship

3rd in 1.10 championship

Lovemore achieved the following results: 

7th place in the 1.00m A2 competition.

5th place in the 1.00m two phase.