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Tui Teka

Discipline: Horsemanship

It all started for Tui Teka junior in a small rural remote township called Tokomaru Bay 60km north of Gisborne growing up in a household of 18 adults and children including extended family relatives from aunty’s, uncle’s, niece’s and nephew’s in a 3 bedroom house with extended living including caravan sleep outs in the back yard.

"It was an upbringing that many would have dreamed of but never get to experience growing up in such a communal environment where hunting, fishing, diving, and gathering food from the gardens were all a part of it and mostly involved being on horseback", says Tui.

Horses were a way of life for his elders, from ridden and carriage transportation, as well as used extensively on local stations to muster sheep and beef on the steep rugged country. Tui says that he was fortunate enough to catch the back end of this dying culture and breed in the late 1900s and early 2000s where he grew up riding his horse “Bruce” to school rather than catching the school bus or riding a pushbike.

Horses were inherited into Tui's genes from such a young age that he almost had no choice, he says. "I was just a young 8 year boy whom loved to be on horseback all day if I could, riding alongside my childhood friends, and the rules back then were be home before the street lights came on" he says.

Generational rules and codes meant he was taught from a young age that it was bareback riding to start with until you could: jump a full wire fence and wooden gate bareback, full gallop bareback along the beach at low and high tide, and muster a mob of wild horses up and down steep terrain bareback before even considering a saddle. A saddle was either gifted or handed down and only those who pass the bareback test could consider a saddle that was earned. Taking Tui 24 months to develop a confident and balanced bareback seat he earned his first saddle at the age of 10. By 13 Tui  was regularly mustering wild horses solo.

Between 13 and 14, Tui was put to the test starting his first wild stallion solo. It would become an experience of a life time and the beginning of a journey down a pathway Tui chose to follow into the future ahead. "Having gained a lot of that knowledge and experience through observation predominately, as well as being hands on, allowed myself to pick up on the timing and feel needed around wild horses from such a young age learning how to gain their trust through communication and understanding. This took a few years to develop and master my confidence with a numbers of horses in the hundreds if not thousands", says Tui. 

Competing on a national stage in the prestigious colt starting challenge at Equitana “The way of the horse” in Auckland, 2017, was the first time Tui was exposed in front of a live audience against some of the best horseman and horsewoman in New Zealand and Australia. The success he gained being crowned the champion of this prestigious event allowed an international opportunity to compete at “The way of the horse” Melbourne Equitana 2018, where he was up against 3 of the best horseman and educators in Australia: Ken Faulkner, Adam Sutton and Bruce O’Dell. 

Tui will be presenting a 3 day horse starting demo with his companion and equine partner “Kingston” a 9 year old QH Paint who will help educate alongside Tui to demonstrate to the audience how beneficial it can be to have another experienced horse help in this crucial situation starting young horses.

Key learnings to take away from Tui's sessions:

  • It’s an opportunity to see how important the values and principles of horsemanship are to create a solid willing foundation for success in the future with all young horses.
  • How to better prepare ourselves both mentally and physically for the beginning process between human and horse to develop a harmonious connection for lifetime partnership.
  • Tui Teka says, “if it were easy everyone would be doing it properly from the beginning, for the horses sake and yours to, but coming from my 20 years of hands on experiences with young horses it’s not”
Julie Malcolm training

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