Te Akau Team Member of the Month

Date: 5 Mar 2020

Te Akau Team Member of the Month

Te Akau is proud to announce our February ‘Team Member of the Month' for February - Stephanie Hyde-Richards, Equine Assistant at Te Akau Stud.

“In my 38 years of being involved with the racing industry, I have never met someone who comes to work with a such a huge smile on her face every day,” said David Ellis.

“Stephanie is one of the happiest people I know, and no job is ever too much of an ask. She completes every task 110% and has great empathy for her fellow employees and all our animals, not just our horses. She is well liked by everyone here. We are very fortunate to have a such special person like Steph employed at Te Akau.”

Stephanie & the amazing Gingernuts aka Jerry

“In the short time of Steph being here, she has become very
valuable part of our team,” said Te Akau Stud Equine Manager, Enzo Di Leoni

“Since joining us last year, she has found her place within
the stud and it's culture. She is a beautiful person to be around with and is a
very responsible and trustworthy team member.”

“Steph is a very talented horsewoman. She has shown great skill and patience, especially when handling our young stock and looks to have a very bright future in the racing industry. Steph is also a talented rider, who I expect great things from.”

Stephanie with our Burgundy/Cavendish Belle 18 filly

Stephanie Hyde-Richards:

My family has always been animal mad! I've been told that I could ride before I could walk. Horses are in our blood - my mum was involved with a riding school, polo ponies and later hunting. She passed that addictive horse gene onto myself and my sisters, and we gave every discipline a go. From eventing, dressage, show jumping, hunting - we just adored being around horses and even managed to rope my younger brother in for the occasional ride. I guess it is no surprise that I have found a career based around them!

I first became involved within the racing industry just over four years ago, when I was studying a Bachelor of Science at Waikato University, and desperately needed a job (McDonald's just wasn't cutting it). Milan Park in Cambridge took me in with no experience in the industry and taught me the ropes of working on equine stud. From handling to breeding, foal watch and sales work, I learnt so much and am very thankful for the opportunities that they gave me.

Stephanie at Karaka

I ended up postponing my studies to focus on a career within the equine industry, as well as play rugby for Varsity and Waikato Women's Rugby team for several seasons.

Last year, I had come to a point where I was at bit of a
crossroads and needed a change - I wasn't sure what direction to take. So, when
my sister, Emma, offered for me to move in with her at Te Akau, I jumped at the
opportunity and haven't looked back since. I am now working for the best
stables in the country.

My role here at Te Akau consists of working with our close-knit team to ensure the horses here are cared for and leave in optimum condition. From looking after to our spellers, our homebred foals and breakers, no day here at Te Akau is the same, and I am learning something new every day. I love living out here at the farm. It is the most beautiful part of the Waikato I have been in. We aren't far from the beach, town, my family or my partner, Jackson. I think it is the perfect work-life balance, and yes, I am a crazy cat lady, and love living on the farm with my cats! 

Stephanie with Karyn's rescue cat Misty

I have terrific role models here at Te Akau Stud. Enzo and Deane Lowcay are excellent teachers, and are so knowledgeable on every aspect of horses, and actually, they are pretty knowledgeable about life in general. I am never afraid to ask a question and have great respect for them both. Enzo is also a great manager. He always puts his team first and wouldn't ask us to do a job that he wouldn't do himself. That is the great thing about Te Akau - if you are willing to learn and give 100%, the opportunities are endless.

Karyn and David are also very special people. I have never met anyone like them before - they are one in a million and the best employers anyone could ask for. Words can't describe how thankful and proud I am to say that I am part of a world class organisation. The support they have both given me has been incredible. I could never repay their generosity or kindness.

My career highlight would have to be working with our breakers. Enzo has taken me under this wing and is teaching me the art of breaking in. I learnt the hard way of ‘breaking in' so to speak. My sister would use me as her test dummy for her ‘project' horses, claiming that they had been broken in when they hadn't, and I would end up in a piled heap (she would then make me get back on). So now I am learning the correct way to start a horse.

It is a craft and it requires precision, patience, care - a
horse's early education is so important and needs to be done correctly to
ensure that they have the best start in their career. How lucky am I to be
learning from the best breaker in New Zealand? I am just about to send my first
filly to the stable - I can't wait to see how she goes. 

I can honestly say that I love my job, I love where I work, and I love the people I work with and for. I really am one lucky girl.

Stephanie & her partner Jackson

David (Ellis) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis) introduced the monthly award as a way of saying thanks to all the team, from themselves and also on behalf of the owners, in appreciation that the horses are given every opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“I keep saying that because these people love horses they're
prepared to get up at 3.30 a.m. in winter and summer, rain, hail, and shine,”
Ellis said.

“We create opportunities for young people to get involved in
a thoroughbred business that we try to run as professionally as we can, and
also employ people that have spent their careers working in the industry and
bring enormous amounts of experience.”

The Team Member of the Month receives a cash prize and the
overall annual winner receives an all-expenses paid trip for two to the Gold


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