The end of an era….farewell Kiwi legend
Sadly, the time has come for Sharon and Kallista Field to announce the passing of the Waikare on 20 July, at the grand age of 31 years old. Waikare was one of the greatest NZ bred sport horses this country has produced and competed at international level. She was truly a one in a million horse, and she knew it. The diminutive, yet opinionated, Waikare, along with Kallista Field, were instrumental in inspiring a generation of young NZ riders to specialise in the dressage discipline.
Waikare and Kallista danced their way into our hearts and the record books of NZ equestrian sport at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. As our first Olympic Dressage representatives, they set the standard and the NZ qualifying marks to better, for those following in their hoof steps.
Such was their success, their percentage was only recently beaten by 0.5% at the Rio 2016 Olympics by a NZ dressage combination ***. 17 years later, their record final placing at the Sydney 2000 Olympics still stands, where they finished only 0.37% (1.62 marks) and one competitor away from being included in the final 15 to compete in the Grand Prix Kur*. Having competed in the GP, and through to the GP Special, so close were they to the final that Kallista and Waikare were included in the trot up before the Kur. It was a euphoric time for NZ equestrian sports and dressage fans.
At just 16 hands, Waikare held her own up against the titans of world dressage, who included the legendary Bonfire, Gigolo and Farbenfroh. Waikare’s mark of 68.04% in the GP Special was highly creditable, considering the winning scores of 76.32% for Gigolo and Isabell Werth in the GP, and 78.13% for Bonfire and Anky van Grunsven in the GP Special. At 22 years old and the youngest dressage competitor at the Games, Kallista and Waikare bet out big names in international dressage, such as Carl Hester, Christine Stueckelberger, Stefan Peters, Jan Brink and Richard Davison.
As Silke Rottermann of eurodressage.com reported, “She (Kallista) had proved that a very young rider from a country without a long tradition in dressage and on a horse bred in NZ could be competitive and convince the judges that there is quality between A and C from the other side of the globe.”*
Over the years, and indeed recently, much has been written about Waikare’s achievements with both Kallista and Sharon, under the watchful eye of trainer, Clemens Dierks. Waikare’s accolades are many.
Owned by Sharon’s parents, Mr and Mrs Russell Mills, Waikare was by Witzbold out of a TB mare, Rocklyn xx (by Rocky Mountain xx). The dark brown NZ Hanoverian mare was purchased as a weanling for $2,200 from breeders Brian and Marie Pyke. Sharon trained Waikare through to Grand Prix, and, it was at this level the mare’s abilities really shone. Extended trot, an expressive passage, piaffe and superb flying changes were her forte. Together, Sharon and Waikare won the 1995 Burkner Medal, as well as had a successful campaign at the CDI Sydney and Volvo World Cup League Final in Werribee, the same year
After returning from working at Herbert Rehbein’s stable in Germany, 18-year-old Kallista took over the ride on this proven mare. Answering the challenge laid down by her mother Sharon, Waikare and Kallista set their sights on the Sydney 2000 Olympics. It was no easy road to get a start at the Games. Apart from achieving NZ and Olympic qualifications, Waikare and Kallista had to maintain consistently high marks to secure their selection, on top of beating out two other countries plus NZ competition to gain an individual position for NZ.
In 1999, they won the FEI World Challenge Taupo with ease, as well as the GP and GP Kur at the CDI W Sydney and the GP at the CDI W Melbourne. Here in Auckland, they were the highest placed New Zealanders in the Volvo World Cup League Final, up against a strong Australian team.
The Sydney 2000 Olympics was the pinnacle of the 14-year-old Waikare’s career, after which she enjoyed a long and happy retirement at the Field’s property at Pahiatua. As Kallista said, “She’d given her all and had shown her worth, there was nothing more to prove”. Waikare bred four lovely horses, and lived out her days as boss of the brood mare paddock, where she kept everyone in their place to the very end.
Small in stature but huge in personality, this amazing NZ bred mare gave Kallista and Sharon the ride of their lives, and inspired so many dressage fans in this country….as well as set a NZ Olympic record that still stands 17 years later.
While Waikare’s passing is the end of an era, it is also a time to celebrate her life, achievements, and the joy she bought us all. Rest peacefully Waikare, a true NZ champion and dressage legend. Revered and remembered forever.