Over a decade ago, Gina Schick spotted a gap in the market when it comes to rehoming former racehorses in New Zealand, launching an operation that today retrains hundreds of retired racehorses each year for a new direction in life.
Based in Cambridge, New Zealand, EventStars has become the go-to for local racing stables looking to find pathways for their horses once they finish racing.
A talented horseperson who used to ride trackwork for leading trainer Murray Baker, the idea for the business venture grew over time, starting with Gina breaking in Kaimanawa ponies, wild horses that roam the Kaimanawa ranges on New Zealand’s North Island, to help fund her university law degree.
Next, Gina came across an ad for a free thoroughbred in the local newspaper, a two-year-old with a wind issue who was spruiked as “the ideal farm hack”. She got the horse, retrained him and found him a new home in eventing, which involves competition across dressage, cross-country and show jumping, where he rose to among the top in the country.
As time went on, and word of mouth spread, Gina was offered more former racehorses to re-educate and sell to a new home.
“It’s always the challenge of getting a horse and seeing what you can make it into,” Gina says of her approach.
“A lot of the horses I was getting at that point I had ridden in trackwork or seen at the track, so I knew them quite well. Eventing’s always been my first love and I could see there was a real demand for thoroughbreds.”
It was Gina’s husband, Windsor Park Stud owner Rodney Schick, who encouraged her to expand the successful model about 15 years ago. She bought a 10-acre farm across the road from the stud farm and invested in facilities including an arena and jumps paddock, to get the property up and running.
Horses are a blank canvas when they arrive off the truck at EventStars. Over a three -week education program, they are put through their paces in order to determine the best place to rehome them. The operation is a hive of activity, with a team of skilled riders working dozens of horses each day.