Kiwi vaulting team on high horse for WEG fundraising


The first vaulting team from New Zealand to head to a world championships is in full training to take on the world at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France later this year.

Three of the Kapiti Vaulting Club's WEG team members with Tiny the horse; Brooke Dunstan at rear, and Rhyanne Vasta, who is holding Danielle Schwabe.
Three of the Kapiti Vaulting Club’s WEG team members with Tiny the horse; Brooke Dunstan at rear, and Rhyanne Vasta, who is holding Danielle Schwabe.

The team of eight from the Kapiti Vaulting Club range in age from 11 through to 21 years old. They now face the task of raising at least $60,000 to get to Normandy for WEG 2014.

The team of Danielle Schwabe, Brooke Dunstan, Lily-Claire Palmer, Georgi Curran, Rhyanne Vasta, Evangeline Goldie, Grace Williamson, and Jennifer Ponne, are joined at the event by trainers Catarina Strom and German coach Verena Fiess.

The team is not taking a horse to France, but will borrow a horse from Fiess’s German club.

Fiess will work with the team before and during the Games, and has arranged all of the horse requirements, training camps with German teams, and arranged billeted accommodation with families from her home club for team members. “It has been huge in terms of cost savings and organisation,” says team spokesman Glenn McIntyre.

Team member Georgi Curran left last week to stay with a French club team member to undertake some additional training and will stay on after the games to spend a year on her OE. She will join the team on July 24, when they arrive for a more intensive training programme before the start of WEG.

Kapiti Vaulting Club's official team training T-shirts.
Kapiti Vaulting Club’s official team training T-shirts.

New Zealand has been represented in vaulting at World Championship level just twice before, with Hannah Mills competing at Aachen in 2006, and David McIntyre donning the silver fern at The Hague in 1994.

To help the team get to the Games, the Kapiti Vaulting Club is offering sponsorship packages for supporters, at  gold, silver or bronze level, with a a message or logo will appear on the team’s official training t-shirts. “It means when the girls are in France vaulting New Zealand onto the world stage, you’ll be right there with them!” the club says.

To order a t-shirt, contact the club, or donations can be made to account 03-1531-0072614-001. For more information, call 04 298 8195.

The Kapiti Vaulting Club is a non-profit incorporated Society registered as a charity (number CC29091). The club receives no funding from the government.


The Kapiti Vaulting Team, back from left,  Catarina Strom (Coach), Rhyanne Vasta, Brooke Dunstan, and Evangeline Goldie;  Middle:  Grace Williamson, Jennifer Ponne, and Georgi Curran. Front:  Danielle Schwabe and Lily-Claire Palmer.
The Kapiti Vaulting Team, back from left, Catarina Strom (Coach), Rhyanne Vasta, Brooke Dunstan, and Evangeline Goldie; Middle: Grace Williamson, Jennifer Ponne, and Georgi Curran. Front: Danielle Schwabe and Lily-Claire Palmer.

Team profiles:

vaulting-2Georgi Curran
Title: Vaulter
Age: 18
Home: Paraparaumu
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Curran has been vaulting since she as 10 years old after giving it a try one school holidays. She was inspired after seeing the Kiwi team perform and set about making the grade. She put aside her many other out of school activities – including gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, netball and tap – and focused on her vaulting.

As well as vaulting, Curran occasionally participates in aerial silks at shows. She completed her three levels of NCEA in 2013 in conjunction with her vaulting commitments.

Curran will head to Europe in May to spend two additional months training in France prior to the games.

Brooke Dunstan
Title: Vaulter
Age: 21
Home: Waikanae
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Dunstan, a qualified animal welfare investigator, says vaulting is her life, and animals her passion. In the coming years, she plans to study the psychological factors that influence people to neglect and abuse animals.

She started vaulting in March 2008, heading to Australia to compete in September of the same year. Two years later she went to Germany to compete, winning two competitions. In 2011 Dunstan spent much of the year in Germany training with a top coach, bringing back valuable experience and expertise to her home club.

She is also an aerial hoop performer and often seen at the likes of Equidays and the NRM Horse of the Year Show. It is a dream comes true for her to be competing at WEG.
Title: Vaulter
Age: 16
Home: Paraparaumu
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Goldie started her vaulting career at eight, and has competed successfully in Australia and in Germany. A Paraparaumu College student, Goldie balances her training with study and a part time waitressing job.

Her long term goal is to study health science at university, and when she’s not vaulting, she’s likely to be out on her stand-up paddle board, running, longboarding or just hanging out with friends.

>vaulting-3Lily-Claire Palmer
Title: Vaulter
Age: 15
Home: Waikanae
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Palmer’s love of horses and gymnastics led her to the world of vaulting as a five-year-old. Her goal has always been to represent New Zealand at the world games, and to finally make that happen is dream come true.

The Paraparaumu College student has competed with success in Germany and Australia, and over the years has been trained by various international vaulters, including world champion Christophe Lensing.

Palmer has also competed in gymnastics for New Zealand. She is also a member of the Waikanae Pony Club and competes in dressage, showjumping and eventing.

Jennifer Ponne
Title: Vaulter
Age: 14
Home:  Paraparaumu
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

When Ponne was just eight years old, she took up vaulting – despite a fear of even kneeling on a horse. As she got better, her confidence grew and it didn’t take long for her to start working her way up through the club teams.

As well as her vaulting, Ponne also works on trampolining, gymnastics, circus training and endurance, to ensure she can be the best she possibly can. She has just started Kapiti College this year.

Danielle Schwabe
Title: Vaulter
Age: 11
Home: Waikanae
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Schwabe may be the smallest of the team, but what she lacks in size, she makes up in skill. This triplet is the flyer, so often performs the team’s high-flying balance and gymnastic manoeuvres.

She is a student at Kapanui School, where she is learning French and German in readiness for her European adventure this year.

Schwabe is also an inter-school swimming representative and a keen netballer and gymnast.

Rhyanne Vasta
Title: Vaulter
Age: 16
Home: Waikanae
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Paraparaumu College student Vasta says vaulting is her dream sport as it combines all that she loves – performing, dance, gymnastics, acrobatics and horses. Growing up on a farm she has always been involved with horses, so the transition to vaulting was an easy one when she discovered the sport at eight.

She too has competed with success in both Australia and Germany, and credits this to the top European instructors she has had over the years.

vaulting-4Grace Williamson
Title: Reserve Vaulter
Age: 13
Home: Paraparaumu
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Williamson’s love of vaulting began when she went to farm club at the Kapiti Equestrian Centre as an eight-year-old. It has led her to give up her raft of other sports, so she can concentrate on vaulting.

She adores being part of the shows the club put on at Equidays, the NRM Horse of the Year and at Kapiti Fest.

Catarina Strom
Title: Coach
Age: 32
Home: Waikanae
Club: Kapiti Vaulting Club

Swedish-born Strom has been with the Kapiti Vaulting Club for 14 years, and well and truly part of the family. Her dedication to her pupils makes her an absolute asset to the club, and it speaks volumes that Dressage Horse of the Year rider Bill Noble is one of her mentors.

She started riding at eight, vaulting at 11, had her first pony at 12, and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

In 1999 she graduated from college with a leadership in sports qualification, with accreditation in coaching and lunging for vaulting.

An invitation in 2000 to coach at the Kapiti Vaulting Club changed her life. While there, she was involved in the making of Peter Jackson’s movie The Return of the King, handling, preparing and riding horses.

She is a complete horsewoman, having retrained racehorses, assisted in breaking in and training horses, and educated many horses to novice eventing and Prix St George dressage standard.

But she rates vaulting as the ultimate sport because it teaches everyone fitness, body control, coordination and flexibility, among other things.

Verena Fiess
Title: Coach and physio
Age: 29
Home: Wellington
Club: Pegasus Vaulting Club, Muhlacker (near Stuttgart)

Fiess is a qualified physio and international vaulting coach. A riding accident that injured her back and knee cut short her career as an athlete, and she has been coaching for the past 12 years. She has trained senior teams at her Pegasus club, achieving excellent results at European championships. Fiess travelled to New Zealand to take up a yearlong volunteer vaulting coach position and will return to Germany as the NZ team coach for the 2014 world games and hopes to return to NZ after the games to work if she can get a work permit.


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