Ruapuke Horse Riding

Jacqui caught up with horse lover Sara Murphy from Ruapuke to talk about her noble companions and how she helps local children discover riding.

How and when did you first get interested in riding? 

I always loved horses as a young girl, but we lived in Hamilton so having a horse was not possible.  When I was 7 or 8 we moved onto a lifestyle block in Raglan where our neighbours who had horses let me ride with them. I began working at Roll Up in Raglan when I was 12 so I could start saving money to buy my own pony (and with the help of my Mum this soon was a reality!) I bought my first pony Ziggy a little while later and it all grew from there.

How did you end up living and farming out in Ruapuke?

My partner’s parents have farmed here for a very long time and when we were pregnant with our first child, we knew it would be a great place for our kids to grow up, and that it would be a natural progression for my partner working in the family business.

What do you love about the area?

There is so much to love about the area – the beach is amazing and the farm offers great opportunities for the kids to explore. We live in a great little community with a cool country school and great families all around us. My kids have formed pretty amazing friendships with others in the area.

How have you been involved in local equestrian activities in the community?

As a child/teenager I attended Te Uku Pony Club and my daughter is a current member of the Pony Club.  I had a short stint of being head coach at the club which involved organising rallies, camps, and fundraising events (along with the help of the Pony Club committee).

Three years ago, as my children were starting school, I wanted to combine my passion of horses but also be available for my children, and Ruapuke Riding Camps was formed.

What have you been trying to encourage lately with children learning to ride?

The biggest thing is to encourage children to work towards their own individual goals, ensuring that it’s safe but also lots of fun. The goals are always very different for each child. I want them to understand and be able to read the horses signs – body language etc and be able to work with the horse to accomplish their goals. I really want horse riding to be a fun experience and for the kids to know that if it doesn’t go to plan then that’s ok! 

What opportunities and experiences have you been able to offer?

I have a range of different opportunities for most age groups; from pony playdates, private and group lessons, school holiday programmes, treks, day and overnight camps. I do a mix of activities for children both with, and without their own horses. My teaching offers a different experience from a first ride on a horse, to riding along the beach or swimming horses. I try to fit many different experiences into a camp or holiday programme, so each person gets the most out of what we have to offer.

What benefits do you think riding gives to young ones or anyone?

Horse riding has so many benefits for both adults and children. You can learn so much from them (horses), but patience, determination, discipline, compassion, empathy and dedication would be right up on my list.  Learning to work with such a large animal is a rather large accomplishment!

How do people get in touch with you if they are interested in their children discovering the love of riding? 

You can contact me via email at or by phone at 0210455125 (best contact would be via email or txt and I can call back as I’m in and out a lot with the horses.)