Pilmer Plate Awarded to incredible couple

This very special plate is ESNZ’s volunteer lifetime award, given to the volunteer or technical official who exemplifies the highest ideals of good sportsmanship through commitment, dedication and the pursuit of excellence. It was donated on behalf of Richard S Pilmer who was founder and president of  what was then the New Zealand Horse Society from 1950-1956, and then patron from 1985-1986. Initially it was presented to the winner of the puissance competition at the Horse of the Year Show from 1962-1995 before being repurposed for the lifetime award.

This year the Pilmer Plate is awarded to a couple who have jointly more than 65 years of dedication to dressage, jumping and eventing over a lifetime involvement. Both are FEI judges – one in dressage and the other in eventing. One was a competitor to Prix St George level, been a technical delegate, a 4* FEI and list A judge, a board member in two capacities, covering publicity and as judges’ officer, a member of the working party to write By Law 17, has coached the Taranaki Pony Club dressage team, and a foundation member of Dressage Taranaki.

The other was never a rider but swept into equestrian through his wife’s interests. He was a well-respected dressage, showjumping and FEI eventing judge who was also very involved in Pony Club at area level as president and as district commissioner. His dairy cows often played second fiddle to equestrian and sometimes didn’t finish their evening milk until 10pm if he was tied up judging.

We are talking about Joan and the late Don Matheson. This couple were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. They would happily transport other competitors if they had room in their truck and also took Pony Club teams across the country.

They were always hugely respected for their support of riders of all levels – from grass roots through to international level. At the fore of all they did was fair play. They gave freely of their time with no expectation other than to contribute to the sport they loved so much.

Congratulations Joan and Don.

Joan Matheson being presented with the Pilmer Plate by ESNZ Patron, Jennifer Millar and Dressage Chair, Scott McKenna

Photo: Libby Law