All-Star TWOTH - Tui Bringing it to the Aussies

Everyday is a learning day for inaugural EQUITANA Auckland The Way of the Horse champ Tui Teka, and the horseman from New Zealand’s East Coast is now looking forward to being part of EQUITANA Melbourne’s All-Star TWOTH...

It’s part of the iconic event’s 20th birthday celebrations and sees Teka lined up against Bruce O’Dell (2014 champ), Ken Faulkner (2012 champ) and Adam Sutton (2010 champ) – it’s a head to head of the best of the best.

Teka spends his days with horses. He has 18 youngsters on the go at New Zealand Performance Horses – which lauded as the most successful showjumping breeding operation in the Southern Hemisphere. He also has his business – Tui Teka Better Horsemanship – that sees him working with private clients, running clinics and helping “horses with people problems”. It is a growing demand and work he thoroughly enjoys.

“For me, teaching people is where I am at,” he says. “I am helping them to help their horses.”

His win at EQUITANA Auckland gave him exposure to a far wider audience. “I feel I am more in demand for my horsemanship. I think New Zealand is lacking a horseman who is versatile, who can work within equestrian and be a horseman. At EQUITANA people saw me take a horse from wild to willing over those four days while also getting an insight as to who I am as a person.”

The win gave him a big confidence boost. “I feel it all happened at the right time and everything just fell into place for me.”

Teka, who previously worked for NZPH for four years before taking a break after his EQUITANA win, says he has a huge amount of loyalty for the Juliet and Warwick Hansen-run operation known for its blue bloodlines.

“It is good for my soul here,” he says of the picture postcard station. “Every horse you work with has something to teach you.”

Key for him is getting the balance right between emotional, mechanical and physical side of each horse.

“But every horse is so different.” That willingness to learn has seen him compete with success in both dressage and showjumping arenas, in addition to his performing with his beloved Kingston.

“I am blessed to have him in life, that’s for sure. He is a very special horse. Doing dressage and showjumping is about being a versatile horseman – learning as much as I can and creating a solid foundation. It’s a good challenge too but certainly not about winning a red ribbon.”

He’s also continuing the mantle passed to him by having cousin Randall Williams as his apprentice. “He’s under my wing to learn a better way,” says Teka. “It’s a good opportunity for him to come down here and work with the horses . . . to get to a point with both mind and body that we can present a product that will be successful in the future.”

It is something that has been intrinsically entwined in him from a very early age. Growing up in Tokomaru Bay he and his mates would jump on any horse – the wilder the better.

He loved nothing more than riding all day – up hill and down dale, trying to round up wild horses, and working on the skills of their own.

“We would bare back ride from dawn to evening. We’d ride to school and I would take my rugby boots with me for training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then ride home. My friends and I would then ride all weekend. We would ride in the morning then have lunch at the fish and chip shop and then ride all afternoon.”

He is the only child of Davina Teka and was raised by his great grandmother Hine Kururangi. The old homestead where 18 of them lived is still occupied by his family. His first job in the horse industry was breaking in, pre-training and stable work at a racing stable and the rest, as they say, is history.

Teka is very excited about EQUITANA Melbourne. “I feel it has come into my life for a reason and I am looking forward to the journey, exposure and challenge. Australia is a very big market and hopefully this will open bigger doors and present more opportunities.”

As much as he works with horses, he also works on his own emotional balance. “It is about being centred, and not getting ahead of yourself or over-thinking things. That is just as important . . . and you have to be physically fit.”

He doesn’t know a lot about the other trainers but is keen to meet them. “It is good to bounce ideas off each other and understand things from the way they see it. I hear they are out to give me a run for my money on their own soil . . . but I have a strong belief I can do really well there. It’s all about learning . . . never stop learning.”