‘Muzi’ takes illustrious precedents in stride
By Anendra Singh
In keeping with the family tradition of nicknames, Amanda Pottinger reveals she’s “Muzi” to the initiated in line with mum “Tinks” and granny “Tiny” but then “99 per cent” of people will be left scratching their heads if anyone addresses them by their Christian names.
Acquiring her nickname after the size of a mosquito pertaining to her slight build in childhood days, Amanda says she did feel the pressure of emulating her mother and grandmother’s equine feats while growing up but is taking matters in her stride now.
“I don’t really feel the pressure now, to be honest. I used to but it never crosses my mind who they are,” says the New Zealand development eventing team member.
No doubt Tinks and Tiny White are never shy to offer the 24-year-old advice: “Oh definitely, sometimes far too much.
“You just have to take in what you need to … ”
However, a jovial Pottinger is quick to point out everything she knew until she was 17, her eventing mother taught her. The former showjumper took up eventing about that time, building on dressage advice from Penny Castles, of Ashhurst, for the past five years.
“Penny is the director of the New Zealand development programme so it makes everything quite easy.”
Through Tinks’ contacts, she fleeced invaluable riding skills from the likes of Sir Mark Todd and Pippa Funnell for four weeks last year in England.
“l stayed with Toddy for three weeks and other English-based riders including Pippa.”
Amanda says she isn’t expecting to win in this weekend’s field of nine combinations because Just Kidding isn’t savvy enough yet.
“It’s one of the five target events of the year… [but] this time next year I’ll be competing to win it.”
Careful not to tread on equine industry toes too clumsily, Pottinger believes eventing challenges a rider more than the expensive showjumping discipline.
“ln showjumping you buy a good horse and you rely on it but in eventing you’re relying on the rider and that’s my opinion,” she says, adding eventing’s three phases of showjumping, dressage and crosscountry put the onus on riders to stamp their class.
“An average rider on the best eventing horse in the world will probably not do as well because of the three different aspects,” says Pottinger, who believes conversely an average rider in showjumping will “look good” on a pedigree horse.
With the likes of veterans Todd and Andrew Nicholson having a stranglehold on eventing, she says “it’ll be hard to nudge them out and all the people in between” for a berth anytime soon.
The emerging crop of riders in her age group will be in their thirties before they get a look in.
“It’s all about timing – with the right horse and at the right time you’ll need to stay sound so it’ll all then fall into place.”