Michelle Lake is the owner of Horse Haven and established it in 2001. Running about 20 horses on the property there is always plenty to do training and handling and teaching young people to ride. Michelle is passionate about helping young people learn how to care for and ride horses and ponies. "There has never really been a time I can remember when I haven't been coaching riders and training horses and ponies from a very young age " says Michelle.
Yes, Michelle is passionate about Horses. Michelle started riding when she was six years old, having declined the offer of Ballet lessons, and said to her mother: “Oooh Yuk, I rather learn to ride a horse” with this Michelle started weekly lessons at a horse riding school in Christchurch and then later in Palmerston North.
At the age of 11 years, Michelle was given her first pony, a 14hh pinto mare who was called Hamish. She soon out grew her and then advanced onto a bigger horse called Billy. He took Michelle every where and they jumped everything in there path winning many prizes in Dressage and Jumping over the years. Much fun was had with beach races, swimming in the harbor and more. Billy and Michelle had some good solid dressage and jumping training during these years and were a hard combination to beat.
By thirteen she had two racehorses to gallop and help train before school for pocket money. These were very big strong horses who sometimes got out of control and took Michelle for a very fast ride quite often doing several extra laps at high speed before being able to pull them up, but Michelle was determined to ride them everyday despite this. Training and galloping racehorses before school taught Michelle many skills
During the summer holidays Michelle helped round up a herd of horses to select out a dozen for breaking in to ride. This was always great fun as we went and camped out for several weeks, year after year, and got to learn many skills for starting and training young horses. This training was done the old school way. From completely untouched to riding them in the sand dunes at Papamoa Beach within three days or so. Having many thrills and spills was just a part of this adventure. Many times Michelle would be the first on all the young horses, and also the greatest highlight was being given the opportunity to select a horse out of the herd for her self and told this horse was hers to break in and train that summer for herself. There was no greater satisfaction than doing all the training yourself and seeing the end result with a well trained and responsive youngster.
One achievement is taking on several wild Kaimanawa Horses direct from the department of Conservation, this was in 1999, and training them fully to become great riding ponies. Michelle has taken on numerous difficult horses and retrained them to be good riding horses. Much time and patience is required plus good knowledge and skill to gain the horses trust and confidence..
Michelle loves to teach young people to ride and also help people with there horses and has helped many over the years. For this reason she opened her doors to share her knowledge about horses and established a small riding school she called Horse Haven. There is great satisfaction to take a rider from never been on a horse to seeing them cantering and jumping with confidence. Going to Pony Club and and even competing.
And there is even greater satisfaction to see the students learn to ride on a pony you have raised from birth or from a young age and trained.
Recently Michelle took a horse as a 6 yr old, his name was "Crazy Horse" ... Broken in for riding as a 3 years old and then turned out to pasture for the next three years, he came to us rather wild eyed, and his tail in one long matted hard mass right to the ground. He spent the first two weeks living in our round pen with a long rope attached just so we could become friends and acquainted, we spend several years training this beautiful horse, he was ridden by numerous students over this time. He was renamed "Samson" because of his strong handsome features and personality. Samson is now enjoying a new rider and a new home.
Below is one of Michelle's favourite mares, Starlight, who she breed and trained as her own riding horse. Starlight is now enjoying motherhood and has just had her first foal to Michelle's American Saddlebred stallion Red.