Alycia Burton is a 29-year-old New Zealander who rose to fame almost by accident when videos of her free jumping – jumping bareback and/or without a bridle – went viral. Together with her beautiful gelding, Gold Rush, she now runs Free Riding New Zealand, giving demonstrations and lessons at home and abroad to help people find a deeper connection with their horses.
Alycia was raised on her family farm in Doubtless Bay, New Zealand, and dropped out of high school with no qualifications at the tender age of 15. Taking the only job she could find, she worked in the banking industry until age 22. It was then that she took a good hard look in the mirror and decided to risk everything she had to pursue the life she really wanted. With $100 to her name, she moved into a garage and took every horse-related job that came her way, from fixing problem horses to giving lessons to shoeing. Finally, she saved enough money to acquire a long-term lease on a 20-acre property, where she now spends her time turning unwanted, unmanageable horses into happy athletes, giving lessons, and free riding with the beautiful Gold Rush.
Gold Rush, affectionately known as Banjo, is a palomino pinto gelding who was bred for the rodeo. After being broken in at age 4, he was left untouched until age 7, by which stage he was quite difficult to handle. Alycia was asked to sell him, and after two weeks working with him, she knew he was meant for her. Banjo’s jumping abilities soon became apparent and Alycia began jumping him bareback. This developed into the incredible free riding that the pair are known for today.
‘This horse cannot be ‘made’ to do anything, he cannot be forced and he cannot be bullied. He has proven time and time again he will only do what he wants to do and Free Riding is the ultimate demonstration of this. He finds his trust in me and I find my trust in him.‘
Alycia’s free riding style is not based on any particular method of training and developed from the lessons her many horses have taught her over the years. Based on mutual trust, respect and enjoyment, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Image Credits: Alycia Burton, Free Riding NZ.