Endurance representative Philip Graham may have a lot on his plate as he prepares for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games but for the Canterbury farmer, it is just one step at a time.
His training with his 15-year-old horse Rosewood Bashir is going “surprisingly well” given the time of year. Philip is thankful he hasn’t had the torrential rain of the North Island however, he has other things to contend with like frozen ground.
“It was a little icy coming down one of the hills I train on so that was interesting,” he says in his usual rather dry manner.
Between work, gym training and riding he admits it is a bit of a challenge at this time of year, but he says the secret is to deal with it all just day by day. He’s chuffed others have taken on the lion’s share of the fundraising, and particularly his daughter Helen.
“When you embark on these sorts of things, all sorts of people come out of the woodwork . . . it is humbling, surprising and almost embarrassing. People do all sorts of things and put it towards our campaign.”
Canterbury Endurance have also stepped up to help him raise an estimated $80,000 that would see he and Rosewood Bashir compete at WEG and, perhaps more importantly, both come home. Selling the horse in the United States is not an option he would even consider.
Among the fundraising initiatives are 10km trail rides – which include a 5km lead rein – which generally attract up to 70 horse and riders. “It is something Canterbury started last winter and they are very popular. I think people like to be able to go somewhere for a ride in the winter.”
He also has support in other forms – like from neighbours who let him ride on their properties. Philip likes to drop in a fair bit of roadside training too – a bonus because he doesn’t have to stop to open and shut gates.
But for Philip, the biggest challenge is just getting his horse across the line. “He needs to be fit, healthy, safe and sound. We need to get a good start and get through the whole ride.”
Vaccinations were a real challenge for Rosewood Bashir, with shots once a week for six weeks. “He has bounced back from that now, but it really interfered with our training.”
Philip still feels a swell of pride that he has made a second WEG team. “It is a lifetime thing,” he says. “Just to manage to get something qualified and get it there is major, and then, our sport is not very forgiving.”
The travel on the horses who come from New Zealand is tough too, but he’s happy vet Nick Page will be in the air with Rosewood Bashir when he leaves late August.
Meanwhile, he has plenty to think about. “Jenny (Champion) and I will probably be together at the start and then we will just see how the day progresses. These are independent horses . . . we are there to support each other but to do the best we can ourselves.”
He doesn’t say his goals out loud much but says it is always in his head. “Every day, every ride, it is there with me.”
Follow Philip’s fundraising through either Facebook or givealittle at
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison