Q&A with Amber Fuller
Professional Australian show jumper Amber Fuller is the current Australian Senior Title holder and is competing at Takapoto Show Jumping for the first time. We caught up with her and had a chat about her views on show jumping, horses, her journey as a rider and what she thinks of this event.
What does it mean to you winning the Australian Senior Title?
It means so many things. I think you could say it’s arguably the biggest class of the year to win in Australia. There are other singular Grand Prixs’ that are important throughout but this a one-off class for the year and you get to keep the title for the year and you feel like your name goes down in the history books. In some ways it feels like the title that everyone wants to win and you’ve reached a pinnacle in the sport, at least in Australia anyway. It’s a pretty big accolade.
Tell us a bit about your horse?
Aretino is a 10-year-old that we bred in Australia but he is by and out of imported parents with full European bloodlines. We’ve owned him his whole life and I’ve ridden him throughout his career, he’s just a really cool, quirky guy, he’s a natural talent and he loves the sport and he very much does things his own way. He’s got strong opinions and you won’t sway him, he does things his own way and he does them well.
How did you get into riding?
I’ve ridden ever since I can remember, maybe before I could walk. My Mum was involved with horses so I was put on a pony from day one. When Mum was mustering on the farm and we had stock horses Mum would put me in front of her saddle. I don’t even remember a time when I didn’t ride.
Best piece of advice for any up and coming rider?
Never give up! No matter what, no matter how hard it seems, no matter how tough it gets or whatever setbacks you encounter, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and it gets easier. If you knew when you started how hard the path ahead is going to be, you might be daunted, but it is an amazing path and an amazing life with horses. Horses can take you all around the world to amazing places where you’ll meet amazing people. You’ll have good days and bad days but just don’t give up.
What motivated you to make the trip over here to Takapoto?
To come and pitch ourselves against the best of NZ, to give the horses some experience, to come see the amazing facilities here at Takapoto, to support Mitch and his amazing vision and what he’s trying to do for the sport here in NZ. Hopefully this helps move things towards getting New Zealand and Australia to band together and work together to raise our standard in this region. So many different reasons, but all very good ones.
What do you look for in a horse?
For a show jumper the primary thing is that the horse has to love the job in a way that makes them want to do it and they have to be an unusual combination of both brave and careful. But also, not too brave and not chicken. For me it’s really ‘heart and mind’ that are the biggest players in any of the disciplines – they’ve got to want to do it for you and be with you and be part of the team.
What do you think that Takapoto is going to do for the sport here in New Zealand?
I think it’s going to reinvent the wheel. It’s going to be a hard act to follow for other shows but it’s one of those things - lifting the sport in any way raises everybody up.
It has been a big change for you working for the Douglas family and mentoring Kate and Amelia, are you enjoying the new role?
It’s a great opportunity and I’m just incredibly lucky that the Douglas family came forward with that as an option and I’m very lucky to be involved with their vision for the sport in Australia as well. The girls are, well they’re close friends, we have a wonderful time together, it’s an absolute blast. It’s certainly great fun travelling around the world with them and being part of their journey in the sport.
What do you think of the new APL Sand Arena?
It’s amazing! I want to put one in at home just like it! The horses feel absolutely fantastic. We’ve jumped on it now and today we just schooled the horses on it on the flat and it is truly a world class surface.
If you could ride any horse, anywhere, who would it be and why?
Probably Crystaline, a horse that was produced in Australia and is now in the American team and I think she’s just the most beautiful horse. Having spent a little bit of time with her in Australia, I know that she is not just a beautiful jumper but an amazing, beautiful, horse in every way. She’s beautiful to ride, beautifully schooled by Gabby Kuna, and I think she’s just the epitome of the modern sport horse. If I could have my pick of any horse it would be her.
What is your favourite show anywhere in the world?
Any one of the GCTs are pretty amazing. What Jan Tops is doing for the sport... taking them like he does to various cities around the world and showcasing the sport at the top level like that; I think that’s a real vision for the future. It would be amazing to be on one of the GCL teams and be a part of the tour in any way - that would be amazing.
Tell us something surprising that people wouldn’t know about you?
I’m a pretty open book... hmmm… I’m friends with Sam McIntosh.
What are your hopes and goals for the rest of this event?
We’re going to run first and second in the Gold Final with Kate and then first in the Silver Final with Amelia. But really, we just want the horses to jump well and to ride well and put up a strong showing in this competition.
If you weren’t a full time equestrian, what do you think you’d be doing?
Well I studied law at University, so I’d probably be working in an office as a solicitor. But I hate that idea! Which is probably why I’m full time rider.
Is there any one rider that you really looked up to and aspired to be like?
Beezie Madden. An American and the best female rider in the world currently. She’s just style personified on a horse, she’s amazingly stylish, yet amazingly competitive, she’s an incredible manager, she’s been at the top of the sport for a long time now and I just want to ride like Beezie.