New Zealand rider Hayley Frielick has roots all over the world and qualifies to ride under several different flags. But this fall she’ll be focused on the Mars Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill aboard Dunedin Black Watch, a 12-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding (Dylan Thomas—Love First, Lonhro) owned by Kathryn Robertson. While Frielick has competed at the Adelaide CCI5* (Australia), finishing 10th at its last running in 2019 with Class Action LP, this will be this horse’s debut at the level.
The 29-year-old arrived in the States this summer, and she finished 16th in the CCI3*-S at Great Meadow (Virginia) in August, followed by a completion in the Plantation Field CCI4*-S, thanks to an epic save (more on that later). She’s based with Dom Schramm and his wife Jimmie Schramm at their farm in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, and is training with Boyd Martin.
What brought you to the United States?
It’s a bit of a long story! I was actually born in Dayton, Ohio; my parents were living there for work, and I just happened to be born then. My parents are actually South African, and dad worked in sales for an ATM/cash register company, but they were global, and he seemed to get moved around a lot. Then we shipped off to Auckland, New Zealand, when I was about 6 months old, because my parents didn’t want to raise two girls in South Africa. They also didn’t want to live anywhere cold!
I’m dual citizen of the U.S. and New Zealand, but I ride for New Zealand, and my citizenship in New Zealand qualifies me as a permanent resident in Australia. I do have family in New Zealand, some cousins and aunts and uncles who moved there from South Africa, but we have family spread all over the place—an uncle in Bermuda, of all places.
Initially we lived in New Zealand for about four years before moving to Australia, first to Melbourne and then Sydney, which is where I started riding, just down the road from where Boyd started in Terrey Hills. Then we did six years in Scotland, which is how I met my current horse’s owner, who was friends with my riding instructor there. After that I came back to Australia and decided to start eventing when I was about 16. I based with Chris Burton before he moved to the United Kingdom and stayed mainly in Sydney [other than] a year in Queensland training with Tony Manca, who Kevin McNab trained with for many years, until now, when I came to the United States.
How long do you plan to spend in the USA?
I haven’t booked a return ticket yet! At this stage it’s undetermined. Return tickets are probably too expensive anyway so probably not for a while. The trip over was wild.
I’ve been wanting to come over for a few years. I had a really nice horse, Class Action LP, and originally talked to the organizers about coming to Kentucky in 2020, but then COVID hit so that didn’t happen. He was fifth at Adelaide in 2018 and 10th in 2019. He was a really good horse, but he was getting older, so I ended up selling him to a lovely young rider, and I kept going with Dunedin Black Watch.
What’s his story?
We got him off the track as a bit of a two-for-one deal with another horse that went two-star and qualified three-star but is now show jumping. My friend Katie Robertson, who I know from Scotland, was in Australia and missing horses so she reached out to me. I basically took her to the Outback to get some horses off the track; we got these two and kept going. She works full time and has competed up to the three-star, but her proper job got full on, and she’s happy on the ground yelling at me instead of riding, which is good.
We got him at age 5 and brought him up the levels. I’m besotted with my horse; he’s very, very cool. He’s surprised us with coming off the track, and each level he just tries harder.
Katie took a job in New York, so she’s in the U.S. as well. She’s overseas at the moment but coming back just in time for Maryland to cheer us on.
Is your family into horses?
Not at all! I’m the only horsey person in the whole family. As a kid in Australia, I went to school with someone who owned a horse that was in the TV show “The Saddle Club,” and I became completely horse crazy. I’ve always been mad about animals and convinced mum and dad to have lots of cats and dogs, and I got my first pony in Scotland.
Dad still can’t tell the horses apart, and mum’s terrified to watch me ride since I started jumping bigger fences. When I was in young riders at Adelaide she started crying and threw up behind the vet’s tent, so she doesn’t watch anymore! She’s coming over just after Maryland, so if it goes well, I’ll have someone to celebrate with, and if it doesn’t go well, I’ll have a big hug from her.
Who has been most influential in your riding career?
Probably Chris Burton, since that’s who I really started with. We’d just moved to Australia, and the first horse I tried was in someone’s garden, jumping over chairs. Thankfully the next horse I tried was at Chris’ place.
I helped him out at a big event and was hooked. We couldn’t have asked for a better spot to start.
What’s the story behind the Dunedin prefix?
Obviously there are New Zealand ties, and while I was in Auckland, Dunedin (a city on the South Island) is the twin town to Edinburgh, Scotland, which is where Katie is from. I thought that was a way to link it all together. The logo is a thistle in the shape of Australia, so it’s a mix of the places I started riding.
If you could ride any horse, past or present, who would you choose and why?
I feel like I’d be betraying one of my own horses if I didn’t pick them, but if I could ride any horse, aside from “Nelson” [Black Watch], it would be Ben Maher’s Explosion. I think it would be incredible to feel that kind of scope and power. He’s also a bigger horse, and I’m 5’9″ so it would also be fun to ride something height appropriate. My two are around 16 hands with shoes on!
So you have another horse here too?
We also flew over a homebred mare who’s related to Class Action LP and the brother of another horse I rode, My Happiness. We figured we might as well bring both on such a big trip; we’re definitely not taking them back, so we’ll see how Maryland goes. They’ll either find new homes or stay here with me. At this stage I’m staying indefinitely. It’s not flooding like Australia, so that’s a plus. This year was tough because we were flooded in four or five times. Our property wasn’t under water, but you get cut off from everything and lose power. Before that it was fires, so it’s one extreme or the other.
Where are you based while you’re here?
I’m based with Boyd, Dom and Jimmie. The horses are at Dom and Jimmie’s, and we can hack over to Boyd’s farm, Windurra, in five minutes. I’d reached out to Boyd originally about coming to Kentucky, but the flights didn’t work out, so we came over this summer. Dom and Jimmie’s place is nice and quiet for the horses to settle in after their mega trip. The horses came over a couple weeks before me, at the end of June, and I came the end of July.
We got Nelson fit again, did the prelim and finished third at Fair Hill and then did the three-star at Great Meadow and the four-star at Plantation Field. He felt super there, though we had a silly glance-off at a corner when I rode past my line, but he was feeling great, and it was a good little wake-up before Maryland. We also had an amazing save at the coffin, where we almost parted company, but he’s so quick and honest and stayed on his line and let me climb back on! He’s so cool; I adore him.
Which big events are on your bucket list?
Probably Kentucky as well, given that we’re here. It’s been one the list for a while, and the big B’s in Europe are definitely on the bucket list.
Do you have any superstitions?
I don’t like wearing new stuff. I think that’s more of a safety thing than a superstition, but even if it’s just a pair of socks I’d rather have a pre-ride in them at home.
What trait do you value most in a horse?
A big heart. A trier. Which is why I’m a complete sucker for a Thoroughbred! You have to love the ones who keep trying.
In a person?
Honesty and loyalty.
What is your must-have food or drink?
It was Powerade in Australia, but Powerade here tastes different! I learned that the hard way, and I think I’ve become hooked on Gatorade now.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Probably, “What’s meant for you won’t go past you.” Especially when you’re working hard for something, it’s always good to have perspective on things you can’t control and focus on what you can control.
What is your perfect holiday?
Somewhere with a beach and margaritas.
Do you do any cross training?
Aside from stunt riding, which, after Plantation Field, I now appear to do, I’m actually terribly unfit, so that’s on my list. I haven’t been subjected to any ice bath initiations yet at Windurra, but I fear the day!
Who are you currently training with?
I ride with Boyd, but it’s great having so many people around as eyes on the ground. Peter Wylde helps everyone with their show jumping, and my guy’s jumping the best he ever has.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of horses?
I have a chocolate Labrador, Holly, who is the apple of my eye. I brought the dog over, so we’re definitely not planning on leaving any time soon.
I used to work for a bank and have a background in data analytics. I did that for three or four years to fund the horses but quit my job to come over here. They were great with flexible hours, but a different time zone was pushing it! I feel like there aren’t many people at the five-star level working on something other than horses, but I was doing that to fund it all. I plan to focus on horses for now. I think there are so many opportunities here, and I want to take advantage of them all.
This article ran in The Chronicle of the Horse in our Oct. 10 & 17, 2022, issue. Subscribers may choose online access to a digital version or a print subscription or both, and they will also receive our lifestyle publication, Untacked.
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