For the love of dressage

Love gets the nod.

Love gets the nod.

TOP JUDGE: Mura Love (left, holding flowers) at the Concours de Dressage International (CDI) at Hickstead in the United Kingdom.
Show Dressage-L5 and Above Musical Freestyle-Mura Love and Totara Glen
Show Dressage-L5 and Above Musical Freestyle-Mura Love and Totara Glen
CALLING IN LIFE: Former Gisborne woman Marie-ann Quin says she has enjoyed passing on her meditation techniques to the prisoners at Waikeria prison. Picture supplied

Former Whangara man Mura Love talks to Diana Dobson about becoming New Zealand’s youngest judge across three equestrian disciplines — eventing, pure dressage and para-dressage.

New Zealand’s youngest international dressage judge has learned there is more to life than warp speed without brakes.

Mura Love has just been promoted to Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)FEI3* level, having completed a gruelling exam in Moscow. The exam was the final phase in a long process that has seen him travel around the globe to attend competitions and seminars.

On the radar for years

It has been on his radar for years, and it hasn’t been all plain sailing, but the lad from the East Coast has always kept his cool, and his eyes on the prize.

“It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to something and commit to the process,” says 50-year-old Love, who is now based in Canterbury. “You learn to be philosophical about everything and not to sweat the small stuff . . . to celebrate the highs and survive the lows. Like my dressage trainer always says to me, there’s always another day tomorrow.”

Love is now New Zealand’s youngest judge across three international disciplines — eventing, pure dressage and para-dressage.

Efforts draw praise from Dressage New Zealand

His efforts have drawn praise from Dressage New Zealand.

“Mura has shown a huge commitment to his education as a judge,” says Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton. “To become an FEI judge takes a huge amount of personal time and financial commitment. It is really good for the sport in New Zealand to now have another international judge,” says Hamerton.

Love’s journey started a long time ago.

“It took probably three years to complete all the New Zealand dressage requirements, mostly because you have to have at least eight horses in the Grand Prix class. We often didn’t have that many horses.”

So most of his judging of the Grand Prix was done in Australia. He left New Zealand in July, heading to Brisbane where he judged at two major shows, then on to Aachen in Germany for a five-day judges’ seminar. Then he touched down in England, Wales, Austria, Sweden, where he was assessed by FEI5* judges, and finally Sydney for the Concours de Dressage International (CDI).

Through these events he completed all the international criteria required by the world equestrian governing body, the FEI, and the next step was to apply for the exam. This needed approval from both Dressage New Zealand and Equestrian Sports New Zealand.

With the application completed, the paperwork headed to Lausanne, in Switzerland, for final approval from the FEI.

Any country in the world can bid to host the exam alongside a CDI3* event, and this time it just happened to be in Moscow where Love was one of 14 hopefuls.

The exam was run over three days. It included seven hours of judging Grand Prix movements from videos. Love had to give out marks and remarks for each movement.

“We were then questioned as to why and how we arrived at those marks, and any differences between yours and the directors marks were quickly analysed and discussed amongst us. You knew when you had it right and you definitely knew when you had it wrong.”

A written exam followed which tested their knowledge of rules, regulations, paces and movements. The final day was an oral exam and interview with the directors.

An anxious moment

“It was the most anxious moment as we all waited for our allocated times for our interviews,” says Love. “The directors had said before the interview that they only wanted the best judges.”

But he needn’t have worried.

“For me, this is the ultimate achievement,” says Love. “It is a big step from being on the highest New Zealand national dressage judges’ list to being part of the international panel in the world of dressage, which gives me access to all the biggest competitions in an official capacity.

“It also recognises and validates that you have the ability and knowledge to judge high performance athletes at this level, and represent New Zealand all around the world.”

It is also part of a bigger picture that involves taking clinics for the training of both judges and riders, coaching clients, squad training, and being an athlete who has ridden at every level — including Grand Prix.

“It is the practical side of dressage that supports your theoretical knowledge. You really need a strong combination of all these experiences to support your knowledge base and depth in the sport.”

The next level would be to become an FEI 4* judge, however, Love has to wait two years before he can take the exam. The highest level in the world of dressage judges is FEI5*, a rather exclusive club which is invitation only.

“I guess that has to be the ultimate for a judging career, but getting to (FEI) 3* is a pretty good step in the right direction.”

It is likely he will base himself in the Northern Hemisphere for part of the coming year.

“To be a good international judge, it is important to have access to quality events and plenty of them. It gets your eye in,” says Love. “Like any high performance athlete or official, you have to go where the competition is to strengthen and develop your experiences. It also keeps up those connections with colleagues and others in the sport.”

His equestrian passion has taken him slightly away from the other love of his life — teaching.

“I am still passionate about teaching but needed to make space for other things to happen. I stepped back from teaching this year, other than teaching accelerated science one day a week, which I really enjoy.”

Grateful to his whanau

He’s grateful too, to his whanau from Whangara and his Canterbury ‘family’ — Kay and Kevin Buckley, who have helped him and his home-bred horse JL Champs Elysée.

“You meet amazing people along the way who become like family,” says Love. “I have visited some amazing countries already, and been hosted by all sorts of national federations . . . it makes you appreciate the opportunities you have created. Simply, if you have the will to engage your potential, and commitment to the process, you will get there. You just have to believe it will happen.”

Former Whangara man Mura Love talks to Diana Dobson about becoming New Zealand’s youngest judge across three equestrian disciplines — eventing, pure dressage and para-dressage.

New Zealand’s youngest international dressage judge has learned there is more to life than warp speed without brakes.

Mura Love has just been promoted to Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)FEI3* level, having completed a gruelling exam in Moscow. The exam was the final phase in a long process that has seen him travel around the globe to attend competitions and seminars.

On the radar for years

It has been on his radar for years, and it hasn’t been all plain sailing, but the lad from the East Coast has always kept his cool, and his eyes on the prize.

“It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to something and commit to the process,” says 50-year-old Love, who is now based in Canterbury. “You learn to be philosophical about everything and not to sweat the small stuff . . . to celebrate the highs and survive the lows. Like my dressage trainer always says to me, there’s always another day tomorrow.”

Love is now New Zealand’s youngest judge across three international disciplines — eventing, pure dressage and para-dressage.

Efforts draw praise from Dressage New Zealand

His efforts have drawn praise from Dressage New Zealand.

“Mura has shown a huge commitment to his education as a judge,” says Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton. “To become an FEI judge takes a huge amount of personal time and financial commitment. It is really good for the sport in New Zealand to now have another international judge,” says Hamerton.

Love’s journey started a long time ago.

“It took probably three years to complete all the New Zealand dressage requirements, mostly because you have to have at least eight horses in the Grand Prix class. We often didn’t have that many horses.”

So most of his judging of the Grand Prix was done in Australia. He left New Zealand in July, heading to Brisbane where he judged at two major shows, then on to Aachen in Germany for a five-day judges’ seminar. Then he touched down in England, Wales, Austria, Sweden, where he was assessed by FEI5* judges, and finally Sydney for the Concours de Dressage International (CDI).

Through these events he completed all the international criteria required by the world equestrian governing body, the FEI, and the next step was to apply for the exam. This needed approval from both Dressage New Zealand and Equestrian Sports New Zealand.

With the application completed, the paperwork headed to Lausanne, in Switzerland, for final approval from the FEI.

Any country in the world can bid to host the exam alongside a CDI3* event, and this time it just happened to be in Moscow where Love was one of 14 hopefuls.

The exam was run over three days. It included seven hours of judging Grand Prix movements from videos. Love had to give out marks and remarks for each movement.

“We were then questioned as to why and how we arrived at those marks, and any differences between yours and the directors marks were quickly analysed and discussed amongst us. You knew when you had it right and you definitely knew when you had it wrong.”

A written exam followed which tested their knowledge of rules, regulations, paces and movements. The final day was an oral exam and interview with the directors.

An anxious moment

“It was the most anxious moment as we all waited for our allocated times for our interviews,” says Love. “The directors had said before the interview that they only wanted the best judges.”

But he needn’t have worried.

“For me, this is the ultimate achievement,” says Love. “It is a big step from being on the highest New Zealand national dressage judges’ list to being part of the international panel in the world of dressage, which gives me access to all the biggest competitions in an official capacity.

“It also recognises and validates that you have the ability and knowledge to judge high performance athletes at this level, and represent New Zealand all around the world.”

It is also part of a bigger picture that involves taking clinics for the training of both judges and riders, coaching clients, squad training, and being an athlete who has ridden at every level — including Grand Prix.

“It is the practical side of dressage that supports your theoretical knowledge. You really need a strong combination of all these experiences to support your knowledge base and depth in the sport.”

The next level would be to become an FEI 4* judge, however, Love has to wait two years before he can take the exam. The highest level in the world of dressage judges is FEI5*, a rather exclusive club which is invitation only.

“I guess that has to be the ultimate for a judging career, but getting to (FEI) 3* is a pretty good step in the right direction.”

It is likely he will base himself in the Northern Hemisphere for part of the coming year.

“To be a good international judge, it is important to have access to quality events and plenty of them. It gets your eye in,” says Love. “Like any high performance athlete or official, you have to go where the competition is to strengthen and develop your experiences. It also keeps up those connections with colleagues and others in the sport.”

His equestrian passion has taken him slightly away from the other love of his life — teaching.

“I am still passionate about teaching but needed to make space for other things to happen. I stepped back from teaching this year, other than teaching accelerated science one day a week, which I really enjoy.”

Grateful to his whanau

He’s grateful too, to his whanau from Whangara and his Canterbury ‘family’ — Kay and Kevin Buckley, who have helped him and his home-bred horse JL Champs Elysée.

“You meet amazing people along the way who become like family,” says Love. “I have visited some amazing countries already, and been hosted by all sorts of national federations . . . it makes you appreciate the opportunities you have created. Simply, if you have the will to engage your potential, and commitment to the process, you will get there. You just have to believe it will happen.”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Bernard MAUREL 5* FEI judge - 6 months ago
Congratulations to Mura Love for this successful achievement. As he is now a 3* FEI judge, I wish that it's just the start of a new judging career at the international level . . .

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    ​Do you support nurses in their rejection of pay and working condition offers, and their plan to strike twice next month?