Meet Hayley Frielick, the U.S.-Based Kiwi Eventer Heading for the Maryland 5 Star

Hayley Frielick and Dunedin Black Watch. Photo by snapshotaustralia.

In July, 29 year-old New Zealander Hayley Frielick bought a one-way ticket to the United States. She traveled across the world from Australia with two horses to base herself in America, quitting her job as an analyst for a bank before the move. She is currently based at Dom and Jimmie Schramm’s farm in Pennsylvania. With her Australian thoroughbred Dunedin Black Watch, she will compete at the upcoming Maryland 5 Star.

Hayley’s parents are from South Africa, and she was born in America but competes for New Zealand. She grew up in Australia but also spent several years living in Scotland, so she is no stranger to moving around the globe. She has competed at the Adelaide 5 Star, but Maryland will be her first 5 star outside of the southern hemisphere.

I met Hayley ten years ago during a brief working student stint I did with Australian eventer Jade Findlay. I was just a kid and I admired how she rode and the way she trained her horses. Fast forward to 2022, and she has come to America to train and campaign her horses. The motivations for the move, she told me, were both necessity and a hunger to improve.

“Really, we were just looking for dry land!” Hayley jokes, describing what pushed her to relocate halfway around the globe. Over the last couple of years, New South Wales, where Hayley lived in Australia, has suffered from severe flooding. Farms have been under water for days at a time, and several events have had to cancel.

Photo by Britt Grovenor Photography.

Hayley has wanted to compete at a foreign five-star for a few years, and after missing out on the chance to run Kentucky two years ago because of COVID, she was hungry to get to a big overseas event. The last straw was the fact that the Adelaide 5 star was announced to not be occurring this year, and has moved from its initial date in November to next April.

In June, Hayley looked into the possibility of coming to America. The problem was that there was a scarcity of flights. “I tried to book flights for my horses, and the agent I spoke with told me that they could leave on a flight in two weeks, but after that, he wasn’t sure when the next flights would be.” It was much earlier than she had planned, but Hayley did not want to miss out on a chance to move, so she put her horses on that flight.

“The journey was crazy. The horses flew from Melbourne to Hanoi to Doha to Luxembourg, and then finally to Chicago.” Luckily, they had ample time to recover once reaching the States, and Hayley joined them in July. She brought over Dunedin Black Watch (aka “Nelson”) and a five year-old homebred called Dunedin My Goodness, who is related to her former five-star horses My Happiness and Class Action LP.

Hayley and co-owner Katie Robertson found “Nelson” in the Australian outback. “He was actually part of a 2-for-1 deal,” Hayley laughs. “We went out there to look at another horse, and Katie said, actually, I really like that black one, let’s get him too.” Taking that chance paid off, and now the horse is headed to his first 5 star.

Since arriving, she has run the horse at the Great Meadow and Unionville CCI-short events to prepare for Maryland. Maryland will be his first five-star. “The track should really suit him,” Hayley explains, noting that having a full thoroughbred should be an advantage at the hilly venue. “He has the biggest heart, and he’s quick,” she notes, adding that she is really excited to have the opportunity to compete another horse at five-star.

“I’m not sure what my longer-term plan is,” Hayley admits, adding that it will depend a bit on how Maryland goes. “Right now, we are focusing on Maryland, and after that we will figure everything else out.” She hopes to go to Florida for the winter months, and may aim for Kentucky in the spring. “I am a U.S. citizen, because I was born here, so that gives me a lot of flexibility,” Hayley points out.

She has the option of staying here in the long-term, which she says she is seriously considering. She is open for business, and enjoys teaching both locally and doing clinics. “There are so many opportunities in America,” she adds, “so I am hoping to have a crack at it.”