There's SO much coverage of the New Zealand elections at the moment and some of you may have already made up your mind, some of you may still be deciding, and some of you may be trying to ignore it!
I was thinking about the politicians from an equestrian point of view. What sort of equestrian sport would the various leaders be involved in if they were into horses? Here's my ideas, based purely on speculation:
Bill English - National Party.
Bill would be seen out on the hunt field, on a solid and dependable hunter. It would probably be bay, with no markings, and possibly doesn't move that well but can be relied on for getting over any jumps it faces, just. No point in jumping anything flamboyantly for Bill's horse! Bill may possibly be wearing the red coat, with his caucus following along behind him, albeit a few stragglers at the rear of the field. Mostly they stay as a tight bunch but every now and then there are a few who either overtake him, or veer off to the side, or disappear altogether.
Jacinda Adern - Labour Party
While Jacinda is often seen in a red coat on social occasions, I reckon she wouldn't be found on the hunt field. She may have been a show jumper earlier in her equestrian career, but now I think her focus is on dressage. She just loves doing extended trots across the diagonal, and can has two-time flying changes nailed. The media love her and the crowd is very appreciative of her ability to show off her horse to the judges - and she loves those competitions where there are a panel of experts to decide the actual marks. The horses she likes riding will no doubt have four white socks, and a lovely marked face, possibly a chestnut. Or dappled grey. Her team have varying levels of aptitude in the dressage arena, some tried to compete at the top level but were either vetted out or eliminated by the judges for too many course errors. There are, I understand, some who are on an intensive programme of dressage lessons in order to keep up with their leader.
James Shaw - Green Party
James is very accomplished at natural horsemastership and he prefers to ride without saddle or bridle. I just hope he wears a helmet, but I am picking his horse will be barefoot. His team would also have strong preferences for natural methods of training their horses. He's spent quite a bit of time training overseas before returning to New Zealand to spread the good word on the natural and sustainable horse training methods. He definitely has the best horse-poo composting system of any of the political leaders, and there is no chance that his horses can wander into the streams on his property, let alone poo in them!
Winston Peters - NZ First
Perhaps Winston doesn't ride like he used to in his younger years when he could be found racing up the beach on ponies and bareback. Now you can find him at the races, in the members area or the President's Room. He won't tell you which horse he is backing, but he will tell you if he wins!
Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox - Maori Party
This pair have been hunting with Bill in the past and possibly may be spotted out in the field again with him in the future, depending on how things go for them. Perhaps they will take up dressage. They are talented riders, with other talented riders in their team, but just don't seem to get the right horses at the right time to make a real difference in the competition environment however. Their endeavours to get more people involved at grass roots equestrian competitions have been commended by many.
David Seymour - ACT
David may well be found serving on the national federation on the discipline and rules committee and is always trying to get penalties increased for members' misdemeanours. He's also keen to have low membership fees for the top and professional riders. As to his own horse riding endeavours, these have had to go on hold as he lives in Central Auckland and it takes too long for him to drive to where his horse was kept so he had to give it up.
Damian Light - United Future
Damian needs a few riding lessons before he will get invited to go hunting with Bill, and with his lack of experience, Jacinda certainly doesn't want him to groom for her at any dressage shows. I am hopeful that the ex-leader of United Future may give him some bow ties as if he ever has to do a trot-up with his horse, they would look great!
So, whatever you think, the important thing is to get out and vote. But I strongly urge you to vote on the basis of the party policies, rather than my speculation on what horses their leaders may ride!