Gina Stiehl knew she wanted to have a career with horses ever since she was young, but it wasn't until she got her own horse in 2013, the passion really started evolving.
She grew up in a rural community in Germany. As her family didn't own any land for stock, there wasn’t the opportunity to own a horse. Then her parents decided to move to New Zealand in 2010 to give Gina a better future.
While at high school, Telford and its Equine programmes came onto Gina’s radar through other students there.
“I heard about Telford from a few girls at the grazing facility I was at, back in 2015. They went off to study at Telford and I looked up to them. Telford for me was the only place I knew of that provided a Certificate in Equine with a lot of practical work that many schools don't offer.”
In year 12 at school, Gina was able to do a programme called Gateway which allowed her to go to a riding school every Friday and help out. She also completed many STAR courses from Telford based in Equine. This gave her the knowledge to affirm her decision, horses were the career she wanted to pursue.
“I went to the Telford taster course in 2017 to see what Telford was like, and I can happily say it was worth it. I made awesome friends over a short period of time and I got to know the campus before studying there.”
Gina studied the Telford Certificate in Equine Level 3 and 4 in 2018. In level 4 she specialised in equine breeding. During her year studying, Gina said she learned everything about horses. A wide variety of topics were covered (dentistry, horse health, nutrition, farrier skills and more); she also learned to try new things, and when offered an opportunity, to take it.
“We had a breaker and a weanling to train and look after, as well as our own horses. For me, the biggest learning curve was Level 4 Breeding. I discovered my true love for it and was busy learning everything I could.” Gina went out on work experience to Macca Lodge and got to deliver foals and watch vet days, seeing firsthand all the theory she had learned turn into practical work and gaining hands-on experience.
What Gina learned from studying has helped a lot. When one of her horses seems sick she immediately checks their vital signs and tries to narrow down what it may be. She said all of this knowledge is thanks to the Equine course.
As the year ended Gina knew she wanted to own a stud farm, but as she was lacking the management side of things she decided to stick with the study at Telford and the following year, completed the Diploma in Agriculture.
“From the two years at Telford I gained the knowledge and experience to train horses and how to start a business. I bred my mare and got a beautiful colt called Ranger. he was delivered at Telford in my second year and I hope to keep him as a stallion for my stud’s future”.
“What I’ve learned about training horses I've been applying on Ranger and my new horses and I am proud of the outcomes.”
Gina said Telford has also given her friendships that will last a lifetime.
“I found my best friend at Telford, and I'm so grateful for it! One of my biggest highlights would have to be being invited to watch a clinic with a well-known horseman from the USA.”
After completing the Diploma in Agriculture, Gina was interested in pursuing work on a dairy farm, which she is still currently doing. Late 2020, her dad encouraged her to head into the first steps of starting her business, Westwind Stud.
“I got a designer to make my logo, and have made a Facebook and Instagram page of the stud. I also recently purchased my first broodmare and hope in the coming years to add more horses. Ranger who’s the star of the stud, still has a bit of growing up to do before he can be used for breeding.”
Gina’s well on her way to achieving all her goals; she’s done the study and the training to be successful with her plans. On top of that, she has made lifelong friends, and had unforgettable experiences along the way.
“The memories I made at Telford will last a lifetime. The laughter I had with my friends is worth more than anything. We often talk about how much we’d love to go back to Telford and repeat it all again because of how much we enjoyed it!”