On the next episode, screening 20 August 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:

The Cowboy Way

When star horsewoman Emily Weibel wants to talk riding, she doesn’t have far to go.

The 22-year old, who is sought-after internationally for her riding skills, bases her horse starting and training venture alongside two other businesses run by her mother, Karen Weibel, and her uncle, Bryan McVicar, near Amberley, north of Christchurch. 

All three practise natural horsemanship, basing their breeding and riding prowess on a philosophy of forming a strong bond with their horse born out of trust, leadership and gentle handling.

Emily grew up on the Inland Kaikoura Road and took to riding from a young age.

“She was known as a little wild child,” says Karen. “She would hop on one of my horses out the back of the farm and gallop off with them, with no saddle, no bridle, she’d be holding onto manes and racing away. She just developed an incredibly natural seat and understood the dynamics of the herd without even realising it.”

Emily started working full-time with horses at age 16 and, in 2014, she was one of just seven people worldwide to win a Legacy of Legends Scholarship, giving her the opportunity to train with some of the world’s great master horsemen and women.

She’s currently using her talent to start horses and train other young people in natural horsemanship skills. 

“You’re never going to train a horse with fear,” Emily says. “It’s just not going to happen. Horses are a prey animal, while humans are predators. We have to get on their backs and the horse has to get over the fear of having a predator on their back, so it’s pretty cool that a horse can do that.”

Her uncle Bryan’s business, Equine Excellence, which is also focused on horse starting and training, is based on the same property and they often help each other out.

Karen Weibel runs High Avalanche Stud there too, breeding quarter-horses, so named because they are the fastest horse over a quarter of a mile. Quiet minds and a good looking horse are her top priorities and she sells to people who offer a ‘forever home’ to her foals.

Bryan grew up on a remote West Coast farm where horse training techniques were very different to the style he follows today.

“I was brought up in the old stockmen style of rope those legs up and tie that horse to a tree and then lead that horse behind another one and cowboy up and ride. It never sat that well with me, so all my life I’ve wanted a simpler, gentler method of training horses.”

Bryan says most people seeking training are women who, he says, have for the first time become the predominant users of horses. 

“Women want to love that animal and have it as their friend and their soul mate. They don’t want harsh methods and that’s why a lot of them turn to natural horsemanship.”

Emily and Bryan both compete in Cowboy Challenge, a fast-growing horse sport that originated in the United States. It involves horse and rider tackling a series of tricky obstacles, such as navigating narrow, rocking bridges and riding the horse blindfolded. 

They’re both at the top of their game, often vying for first and second placing on the Cowboy Challenge circuit.

Bryan says the key to their success is the partnership they have with their horse.

“The thing we seek with horsemanship is true unity.  We want to be on our horse, think what we need and have the horse think with us.”


For more about Emily Weibel, visit:www.facebook.com/EmilyWeibelFreedomHorsemanship/ 

For more about Bryan McVicar, visit:https://equineexcellence.com/orhttps://www.facebook.com/Equine-Excellence-191278550921491 

For more about Karen Weibel, visit:http://highavalanchestud.weebly.com 

For more about A Legacy of Legends visit:http://www.alegacyoflegends.com/the-legacy.html 





Dan Henry


Camera & Aerial Photography

Richard Williams 


Field Sound

Don Paulin 


Editor & Colourist 

Mike Townsend


Post Production Manager

Bailey Palmer


Sound Mixer

Ian Leslie