[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ow in its 8th year, the showjumping grassroots clinic is a morning dedicated to those enthusiastic young riders from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and is held on the first day of the Nissan Easter Festival. Professional showjumpers of the Team Nissan Show Jumping team including Barry Taylor, Lorette Knowles-Taylor, Oscar Ncube, Liam Stevens and Cheyenne de Beer spend the morning tutoring riders from far and wide as they ride their special school ponies in the superb indoor Kyalami facility known as the Lippizaner Hall.

In April 2017, the Team Nissan Show Jumping team replaced their sixth rider with an equestrian development program which they named ‘THANDI’- meaning ‘loved one’ or ‘beloved’ – and also an acronym for The Heritage and Nissan Development Initiative.

“It gives me immense satisfaction to see all these previously disadvantaged children and adults have the opportunity to train with the Team Nissan riders: to mix with them and gain knowledge,” says Barry Taylor. “Oscar and Liam do a lot of teaching so it was easy for them to teach on the day with them each having a group to teach and interact with for the day. The goal of the day would’ve been for those who ride a certain horse regularly to improve their relationship with that horse. In terms of ‘where to’ from here, we need to try and spread the development days to the other provinces so that we can thoroughly scout or identify that one talented rider capable of joining Team Nissan. We also need to get the riding community to embrace the development of our sport should there be a hope of it to survive and thrive in the future.”

“What a fantastic experience today was,” says development rider Tshepo Shabangu – a talented and passionate rider who rides with Lorette Knowles-Taylor every week thanks to Heritage Equestrian Development Program founder Wendy Gidlow. “Every day I try my hardest as I really want to succeed in this sport – so am extremely grateful for any opportunity that comes my way.”

The 40 children that attended all got to ride in front of showjumping greats, receiving tips on how to improve their riding and their relationship with their horse. The morning ended in the donation of clothing from the riding community, goodie bags, t-shirts and a well earned lunch!