Bred at the renowned Woodlands Stud, Nightwish was born a healthy colt in the spring of 2000 and went on to run in two fruitless trials, finishing virtually last in both.
Once it was evident the handsome grey gelding was too slow for a career as a racehorse, his journey towards a show jumping career started.
Nightwish, more affectionately known as Mickey, was both pre-trained and trained on the track by talented show jumper Barry Munt.
Following Mickey’s two unsuccessful trials, the three-year-old was retired from the racetrack and given to Munt and his wife Robyn to commence his career as a show jumper. Munt promptly took Mickey through the grades and went on to win the Amateur Show Jumping Championship at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.
When the time was right, Mickey was sold to young rider Jess Knox, who enjoyed great success with him in many junior championship events, including winning the Junior Grand Prix at Sydney Royal.
Six years ago Clive Reed, a successful show jumper and respected coach, together with his wife Morya and son Conor came into Mickey’s life when one of their clients, young rider Erin Buswell, purchased him as her next high level horse.
Buswell and Mickey formed a potent partnership, winning the Junior Grand Prix at Adelaide Royal Show among a host of other titles.
The 20-year-old has since gone on to become one of Australia’s best young riders, recently stepping up to world cup level on her horse Quero Quero (placing in all three of her starts) and winning the Young Rider National Championships at the Australian Jumping titles in November.
Conor, aged 17, is another young show jumper on the rise. Once Erin had progressed, the Buswell family allowed Conor to continue with Nightwish, and they proved the perfect combination as he is currently the leading Junior Jumping Horse in South Australia.
Last year, Mickey won the SA Junior Country Championships, SA State Indoor Championships and was selected in the SA State team at the SA State Jumping Championships. He also finished runner-up in the SA Junior Horse of the Year in 2017.
Moreover, it was recently announced that the 18-year-old had been named the 2018 SA Junior Jumping Horse of the Year, with the award set to be presented in early 2019.
Mickey boasts an impressive record with his young riders, having competed at the Australian Jumping Championships titles with all three of them and has won classes at both the Sydney and Adelaide Royal Shows.
Reed revealed how special the handsome grey is to his family, saying: “He’s still so quirky, if it’s fresh and cold he loves to buck, run and play during his warm-up.
“All his previous riders have loved his playful nature, and embraced it. He is still so competitive and it’s not often you take him to a show and he doesn’t come home with a prize, he’s a real winner and he just loves competing.”
Whilst he doesn’t fit the mould of a typical show jumper, Mickey’s competitive nature has always given him an edge.
“These days he doesn’t come to every show as he is a little older, but when the truck starts and the other horses get on he starts to whinny and call out, just to tell us he wants to come along,” Reed said.
“Now that Mickey is 18 he has slowed down a bit, but we love him and he will have a home forever once he decides he’s had enough of show jumping. But he still loves it now, so I can see him having another season yet.”