Ella took to the ‘saddle’ as a toddler, often putting an old tea towel on the back of her family’s Golden Retriever dog. She was hooked!
Soon after she started riding lessons and by age 9 the townie Rutherford’s knew their daughters were not giving up any time soon, so moved to Dairy Flat north of Auckland. “ My first pony Angel was a dream, an 11.2 hand Welsh chestnut. She was just a little cheeky but with heaps of patience. Everybody loved her, when we sold her we loved seeing her for years afterwards out and about in the Dairy Flat/ Coatesville area!”
In 2012 soon after moving to Dairy Flat, Ella became an active member of Rosedale Pony Club, making great friends, embracing her certificates and “staying up half the night chatting at Pony Club camps in Woodhill Forest. With her new pony Chico, a stocky bay Kaimanawa she started to dabble in Eventing competitions such as Mercer Cup and represented Waitemata from the age of 10.
A strong friendship with Waitemata Showjumping judge and TD, Lisa Messenger, saw 12 year old Ella take on the beautiful Curious George. A Kaimanawa, born in the stock pens, the pair had a special bond. “George changed my world in so many ways. He really taught me to ride, and to trust. I was pretty scared about jumping anything over 80cm until I got him!”
In 2016, George died after an horrific road crash when Ella and her mother were out riding on the edge of a rural road in Dairy Flat. The visiting overseas driver who hit George at speed and injured her mother was found guilty. “As a family we became vocal advocates in the National Ride for Road Safety, it was a real turning point for me.”
Six months afterwards, Ella got the opportunity of a lifetime with 15 year old bay gelding, Banjo.
A 1*Eventer and showjumper, he has achieved multiple wins and placings with Ella at Horse of the Year, Takapoto in the 2019 Junior Final, with several wins and placings at North Island Pony Club Showjumping Champs and Eventing Championships.
The pair are regulars across the North Island Eventing circuit, competing at 1*.“He’s my number one man, I adore him, he really is my horse of a lifetime and I owe everything to him. Banjo’s not an easy ride, but he has helped me develop as a rider and a person through the ups and the downs.”
Ella credits Banjo with helping her achieve her childhood dream of representing New Zealand as a 16 year old.
In 2019 she was selected as one of four Under 18 riders to compete in Melbourne at the Victorian Interschools Eventing Champs. Her borrowed horse Vegas, was “a giant powerhouse” who she won the XC Challenge against Hong Kong with. “It was such an awesome opportunity, I was so lucky to make lifelong friends on that trip. Our NZ team really had our work cut out, stepping into a competition like that on borrowed horses we’d had just 4 hours on!”
Ella is a big believer that you don’t get anywhere in life without hard slog and goal setting.
Six months later she again got the chance to ride for her country as captain of the NZ Secondary Schools Showjumping team in Sydney. “ESNZ offers young riders some wonderful opportunities, and I’m so grateful to them. Every young rider should set their sights on trips like this, nothing is out of your reach.”
Now aged 17, Ella has only just started having formal lessons. Her family’s move to Cambridge has been “the best move ever” - no braving Auckland traffic with the horses to get to weekend horse trials!
Prior to this she could count on one hand the professional lessons she’s had! “Mum and Dad have always instilled in us a strong sense of what it’s like to work hard, so nothing’s ever handed to us kids on a platter. Professional lessons are a luxury and prize money goes straight back into entry fees!”
A longtime Reyna customer, Ella couldn’t be happier about teaming up with the brand as she embarks on the next chapter with Banjo and her first youngster, 5 year old Holsteiner, Delta Lullaby.
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