There Is Life After Racing!

Nicole Wille is living her dream. The 25 year old Ficksburg-born horsewoman is managing the new Hollywoodbets Life After Racing initiative which is based at La Belle Femme Equestrian Centre in Drummond, KwaZulu-Natal.

She speaks enthusiastically as she tells the Sporting Post about the Hollywoodbets Life After Racing initiative, which was launched as a support platform for the Hollywood Syndicate horses upon their retirement from the racetrack.

“In a spirit of the love and care for their horses, the Hollywood Syndicate, who race throughout South Africa, will be sending their retired horses to me. My role is to ensure that via Hollywoodbets Life After Racing every Hollywood Syndicate retiree is provided with the best possible chance of having the best life after racing.  My primary goal is to show the non-racing community of equestrians that we care a great deal about our horses and always want to see them have the best life in and out of racing.”

With an impressive equine CV behind her name, the 25 year old Nicole’s life is hyper horsey – during office hours she is based at the Summerveld Equine Hospital.

“This sport’s success, public appeal and good reputation rides on the back of every horse and these beautiful animals are the focal point of racing. The National Horseracing Authority commendably introduced legislation some four years ago in an effort to specify how racehorses must be treated once they have completed their racing careers. The new rule recognised that all Owners have a responsibility and obligation towards their horses. This initiative is Hollywood’s way of raising the profile of this important aspect, while also ensuring that we can reward and protect our own equine soldiers for providing us, and the racing public, with entertainment and thrills.”

Nicole says that the first Hollywood Syndicate horse to go through her hands was Calvary, a son of Querari, who retired as a four-time winning sprinter.

“Calvary was a super star and just took to the programme so well. After I have done some basic training like ground work and flatwork, I assess what type of person would suit the particular horse best. I then advertise via social media. Prospective new ‘forever homers’ are welcome to view and try the horse out before buying. It is a transparent process where the interests of our horses are always a priority,” she adds.

The horse-crazy Nicole explains that she informs each potential buyer that should they purchase the horse they have to sign a contract stating that Hollywoodbets Life After Racing require regular updates when requested as to how the individual is progressing.

“Should they no longer want to keep the horse or wish  to sell on, we always retain the option to buy back or the new owner must agree to the same terms.”

Born in Ficksburg in the Eastern Free state in 1996, Nicole spent most of her childhood there and a visit to a local riding school when she was 8 was the defining moment that saw her hooked forever.

“I sat on a pony and was enthralled. After that I got my own first pony called Lucky, who is still with me today!”

Nicole has a younger sister and had a wonderful outdoors upbringing on her Step Dad’s farm – to this day she says that it is her ‘favourite place in the world’. The family have since sold the farm and moved to New Zealand.

She matriculated from Ficksburg High School in 2014.  After graduation, Nicole was a bit undecided on what she wanted to do with her life.

“I looked into studying agriculture, but I came across the Summerhill School Of Excellence course online. So we took a drive down to Mooi River to check it out and my mind was made up once I got there. I completed the Stud Management and Reproduction courses and was fortunate to receive a scholarship to go to the National stud in Newmarket, UK.  After 6 months in the UK I came back to South Africa and spent 7 months working at Klawervlei Stud,” she explains proudly.

After that it was two years at Elm Tree Farm in Kentucky, USA and finally back to KZN.

“I have learnt so much through all these experiences and developed myself as a horsewoman every step of the way. What makes horses special to me is the way they make me feel. There is a saying ‘there is something about the outside of a horse that does something to the inside of a man’ and I feel that is so accurate. Believe me, each true horseman has that feeling whenever they are around these wonderful animals.”

Through her association with the Delpech family – Anthony’s son Damon is her partner – her interest and involvement in horseracing has grown exponentially.

“The sport has been a part of my life for a very long time, even more so since I have moved to KZN as all the people close to me work in racing, and it’s a big part of our lives.”

And while today she is emotionally and geographically far from her Afrikaans roots, she never forgets the formative days of her happy youth.

Nicole says that her ten year goal is to run her own yard that specializes in the rehab of injured race and sport horses, as well as the rehoming and schooling of ex racehorses.

“I feel every racehorse can be rehomed. Some might need more time to get out of the racing state of mind – but there is a perfect person and discipline for each type of horse!”

Article from: Sporting Post

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