WEC Riding School Resident Instructors:
The Waikato Equestrian Centre Riding School is open to owner-riders floating in their horses or can provide safe and reliable horses for lessons. The Riding School caters for beginners through to the more advanced rider with instruction in jumping, dressage and cross-country.
DNA WELLS - Hamilton Group RDA
WEC Equine Coach/ Yard Supervisor
I was born and raised in California; my Mum was a horse person so I was introduced to the equestrian world at a very young age. I joined Pony Club when I was seven and by the time I was 8 I had already decided to fully complete Pony Club to obtain my "A" Rating. Throughout my teenage years I rode competitively and strived to consistently take my riding to the next level. During this time I trained with some of the top trainers in the United States who are also internationally recognized. From the age of 12 I was also a working student for my long time trainer Liz Jenner who helped lay my foundations. During this time working for Liz I learned how to be humble, always take responsibility and became a successful barn manger.
When I was 18 I successfully passed my "HA" (in Michigan) and later that year my "A" (in Oregon). In the USA teaching is a large portion of the "HA" certificate. The "HA" is a 3 day test comprising of preparing a "random" horse that you're given for a sale and includes an in-depth level of veterinary knowledge, bandaging as well as teaching. Whilst preparing for my "HA" I found that teaching came naturally for me and that it was something that I truly enjoyed doing. At this time I also moved onto higher level trainers to take my riding to an even higher professional level, this included working as an assistant trainer for an FEI German dressage Trainer, Christiana Noelting.
As well as working for Christiana, I also ran the children's riding program, which was highly influenced by the traditional German riding programs. I did this whilst studying to successfully obtain a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from, California State University of Fresno. I moved to New Zealand in September of 2007 and have worked in a variety of positions ranging from Race Track work to Office Management. I am very excited to be back doing what I truly love to do; teaching, training and riding. I really look forward to having the opportunity to meet everyone and helping people reach their goals whether it is recreational, competitive, or professional.
I started at the WEC in October 2008; just a little over three years ago. During this time, there has been a lot of growth and change. Some of the growth that I am most proud of is creating a strong Prepare to Compete programme. This has given many students the tools to be competitive in all disciplines ranging from ODE’s to ribbon days and dressage competitions. Also introducing a horsemanship programme has given many students the enjoyment to see new and interesting things such as equine surgeries, an introduction into the racing industry and develop budgets for owning their own horses. Another big change over the last three years has been the types of horses that the Riding School provides to people. Big thanks to the Hamilton Group Riding for the Disabled for letting us use their new horses so that the majority of our horses are under 15 years old and can be competitive.
More recently we have changed to having fewer yard time staff and changing it to a fulltime position. This has allowed for a very qualified person to come on board in that position; Wibke. Over the last year, I have also been working on professional development and have completed an Adult Education Certificate. This has enabled me to provide better services to the adult students. I am currently working on obtaining an RDA Coaching Certificate which is a well rounded programme that improves many skills that are valuable for all students.
We are happy to introduce Diane Gilder as a part of the team at the Waikato Equestrian Centre Riding School. Diane is teaching on Saturdays and some weekday evenings, she is also working in the yard during the week. Having shown a great interest in horses from an early age, Diane started riding lessons at Horsepitality Riding Lodge - working weekends and school holidays, living and tutoring at the Lodge. Whilst riding here, Diane attended Papakura and Hunua Pony Clubs where she progressed through the grades to A Certificate.
After completing 7th form at Baradene College Auckland where she was captain of the equestrian team, Diane went on to Wintec Equestrian Education Centre, achieving Best Student Award 2005 in Sport Horse and Community Coach Certificates.
As part of the course, the students were given work experience at various stables. Diane was fortunate enough to work with Blyth Tait and Paul O’Brien at Chesterfields, and then Allan and Lynda Jones at Sommerveld Racing Stables. Upon completing the course at Wintec, Diane was offered a position at Sommerveld Stables in Cambridge working with race horses, trialing horses, broodmares, foals and preparing horses for sale to both the National and International markets. Diane was promoted to foreman in April 2006. This position included sole charge management of the Stables as Allan and Lynda spent the winter months training in Australia. Duties included monitoring the health and fitness of the horses along with the everyday running of the stables, the organisation of staff, feed, farriers, vets, race and trial days, transport etc.
In April 2008 having been offered the opportunity to go to Australia as a working student for international eventers Blair Richardson and Nicky Bishop, Diane took her horse “Foreal”. Over a period of four years progressed him from Pre Novice to 3*** competing at all the major One Day Events and Three Day Events around Australia, achieving 12th at CCI2** Sydney International 3DE 2010, 16th at CCI2** Australian International 3DE in Adelaide 2009, CCI2** Melbourne 3DE 2010.
Whilst in Australia, Diane purchased another young horse “Your Attorney” and took him from Intro to 2** in three years. He also competed around Australia. Some of his highlights were 5th at CCI1* Queensland International 3DE 2011, completing CCI2* Adelaide Australian International 3DE as a 6/7 year old and 9th at CCI2* Melbourne International 3DE as a 7 year old in 2012. Diane has been lucky enough to bring “Your Attorney” home to NZ and is now looking forward to competing with him in New Zealand.
Working and competing in Australia for 4 years has gained her a wealth of experience and knowledge. Diane is a keen eventer and an enthusiastic tutor with skills and knowledge in every aspect of horse riding and welfare that she is looking forward to passing on to students.
RDA Program co-ordinator &
Dressage & Showjumping tuition
I have now held the position of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) co-ordinator for a little over one year and must say I enjoy it, and have learnt a lot. When I first started we were riding 56 children from the Hamilton North School, we now have 78 children and 7 Adult students. This keeps me very busy. We have increased our days of riding to, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 9 -12. My job would not be as successful if it was not for my great team of volunteers, a very big thank you to them and as always, more volunteers are needed.
When I was first approached about this position as Program co-ordinator, I had no idea what was involved and whether my previous experience was enough. Yes, I am a qualified teacher and instructor and had just finished 4 years of tutoring the Certificate in Equine Studies at the Waikato Institute of Technology. Yes, I am a capable horse rider and have been teaching people to ride for many years. No, I have had no experience working with children with disabilities. So I asked myself, how different could it be? The answer was so easy, no different, just get out there and teach them how to ride.
Over the last year I have attended courses and training programs and are 2 unit standards away from completing my RDA Level 3 Instructors Certificate. Along with the knowledge I have learnt for the courses and using my own teaching style I believe that we are delivering a very successful riding program. Our aim is to increase confidence and independence, also to use the horse to increase muscle strength and toning. Working with the therapies, we together set goals for each student. The therapies knows which muscle groups or what can't be done with that student and I set a riding plan accordingly. The results of this method are great, we have received wonderful feedback from the parents, the staff and the school principal who has incorporated horse riding as a subject in their teaching plan. You just have to watch the students to see improvement. I now have two groups that can ride independently at work and trot, and a few have been cantering. This is a very rewarding job.
Dna's life with horses....
Dna began riding at the age of 2 and went to her first show at the age of 4. Trained by her mother, Ona Wells, who was a New Zealand Show Jumping representative. "Living in Kaitaia and having two very supportive parents and lots of great help gave me the best start to riding possible. There was a very competitive show and show jumping circuit up there. With all those beautiful big hills to get your horses fit and lots of natural jumps - drains, logs, gates, troughs, etc, laying around, I soon became very confident on my ponies".
At the age of 15, Dna competed at her first 3 Day Event and then was hooked on the sport. At 18, Auckland businessman Peter Tatham quickly recognised Dna's talent and approached her, offering to buy her an Advanced Event horse and to support her in her quest to be a NZ representative. At this stage Quest was purchased for her. Then at age 20 Dna moved to Auckland to manage farms for Peter Tatham and surround herself with top class instructors.
Meanwhile, Dna graduated from Intermediate to Advanced and was selected to represent New Zealand at the age of 22 in the NZ 3 Day Event Team 1993 & 1994. Quest was later sold and with Peter Tathams on going support and help, along with her parents support and help, Dna began riding an inexperienced Bravo, whom she trained up to Advanced. Unfortunately, Bravo died of a heart attack before being able to compete in America.
Dna then took some time to travel, before returning to New Zealand to work as a Tutor for the Waikato Institute of Technology. Dna tutored students in Jumping and happily assisted them with Dressage as well as providing useful information. For the first time in years, all of the students who chose the Show Jumping module, passed. One of her students, Melia Kape, who rode a green horse and with little jumping experience, credits her passing of Show Jumping to Dna and her teaching skills. Dna was not only liked by all students, but excelled in teaching, and always managed to provide a challenging experience for all. Dna also ran adult riding courses at the end of the semester and the classes were always full with satisfied customers.
Anyone interested in lesson with Dna can contact her on:
Mob: 027 542 6732
Any one interested in our RDA riding program or if you would like to volunteer please contact me on 027 542 6732
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- Instructors are welcome to teach on the WEC grounds.
- All instructors must be WEC members. i.e. at least non riding membership = $35/yr.
- They may use the cross country, practice jumps and PVC arena and sand arenas. Check to ensure they have not been booked. It is the responsibility of the Instructor to contact the Centre to check availability of facilities. Ph 849 6756
- Pupils must either be WEC members or have paid the $20 ground fee at the Riding School prior to riding.
- If an instructor wishes to advertise on the WEC website it is $50/month and the ad will also be included in the WEC newsletter.
- Any instructor that begins to impede other members from using the facilities will be required to book and hire an area and equipment.
- Book and hire an area and equipment if you would like exclusive use. Contact the WEC Riding School for prices.