To describe Gaylene as single-minded, determined and competitive gives you a good idea of her character. When Gaylene is out to prove a point, there is no stopping until the job is done. “In for a penny, in for a pound” and “never say never” could be the mantras that are etched in her mind.
Gaylene hails from Te Aroha on the North Island in the stunning Waikato region, where she and her sister Dorothy live on a property with their mother. The property has been in the family for several generations and is still a very viable dairy farm. For generations the family has been very involved with horses one way or another, and for Gaylene and Dorothy, they are both very competitive and successful show riders.
Gaylene has had many show horse champions, in particular El Sid. A Thoroughbred from Hobartville stud in Windsor, NSW, El Sid was shown by Di White before he was sold to Gaylene after Brisbane Royal Show when he was only four years old. She won a lot with El Sid and in fact brought him across to represent New Zealand at the Grand National competition at Werribee and never doubted he would win. It was on his third trip that he was sashed champion. (Never say never to Gaylene!)
It was when she had El Sid that she started to dabble in dressage and trained with Clemens Dierks and imported a horse through him and PSI called Don Zello as a four-year-old. This was her first dressage horse and she took him through the ranks to FEI.
Gaylene was thinking about looking for another dressage horse when she saw a video on Facebook that attracted her attention. It was a black horse by Johnson and she thought it was a very fancy mover. It was not so far away and so she went to look and, no messing around, she bought him. His breeding is very much New Zealand on the dam’s side as she was an Anamour x Distelfink-bred mare and these two stallions ruled the dressage breeding world in New Zealand for a long time; almost every dressage horse there has these stallions in their pedigree. He was bred by David Woolley and his then wife Rania Todd, and was actually sold to Gaylene by Rania.
Gaylene rode Jax when she went to look at him and was told she needed to wear spurs and carry a whip as he was at that time not a great forward thinker. He was good to ride, but as she said, “how the hell do you know when they are only four and just broken-in”. She got him home and it was throw away the whip and the spurs and so it was kick him to get him going – WELL… Jax had other ideas about that and in no uncertain terms told Gaylene it was time to get off and he organised that pretty efficiently.
So, the first year was learning to ride him – actually, that is a nice way of saying learning to stay on and be able to dismount at your own initiative, not Jax’s! Gaylene, as has been briefly mentioned, is fairly determined and there was a lot of trying to work out how to stay aboard and not get pelted off, but slowly she did. She so well remembers taking him to her coach Vanessa Way for the first time, and while she was lungeing him noticed that Vanessa’s face was “a bit pale”. At the end of lungeing him, Vanessa exclaimed, “surely you are not going to get on that!”