International Students

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Here you will find testimonials and letters from students and clients about there experience with Starlight Farm.

I just wanted to drop you an email to let you know how well Vixen is getting on. I must admit, she has got to be one of the most perfect horses I have ever had the pleasure of owning. She is so sane and sensible and so friendly and cuddly! She also has some serious talent both for jumping and dressage. 


I am so chuffed to have found her (well, she actually found me I guess after trying to eat my jacket in the paddock!!). And I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to take her home - she really is very special. 


I must say also that I have never had a horse that enjoys feed so much! She spends many minutes licking her bowl absolutely clean. 


I will send you some pictures really soon.


Cheers Tina and thank you so much for the most amazing little horse. 




Emma McAlpine


Jennifer Heidig (Working Student) From Germany 2009/2010

Dear Tina and Marcus   I know, it´s been a while, but I guess I needed some time to adjust myself and find my way back into a very different way of life. Now I am start feeling better, getting up without Naho, having breakfast without you, making dinner without Marcus, not having a blast with all my young horses during the day... I could keep going for hours and hours. The entire year away from Germany was totally mind blowing. I can hardly find words to describe my feelings and thoughts about all this. But who am I talking to?! You know exactly what it feels like to meet all those great people and to, step by step, understand the differences between all of us and our cultures and backgrounds.   It´s not like it changed my whole way of thinking or my personality.  It made things clearer though.   Australia was awesome (everyone who knows me was at least sure about that, considering all the well tanned surfer boys over there!) and traveling throughout NZ with Silke was probably the best we could do for our friendship and the funniest way to travel anyway.   But all these months with you guys was what I desperately needed. Strong, steady but kind and honest personalities, doing their thing and taking care of each other just like a real family, even though their members change all the time and meet from all different corners of the world.

   It was difficult in the beginning though. I knew exactly who I was. Or who I got used to be. But that was basically the only thing I knew.   To rethink my acting and the effect I was having on other people wasn't exactly the easiest thing to do.   I´d like the idea, that the only reason was me being German (technically I´m still German but I consider myself a Kiwi, spending some time with the family before going back home some day), but to be honest ....I know it wasn´t. No matter what happened on the way, in the end we all made it...and we did well! I remember the day AIR NZ told me I´d have to leave earlier...the idea of losing you guys so soon was shocking and I cried as if they told me, they´d take off both of my legs... That day I realized how much you actually meant to me.

   Naho, my gold hearted, long lost sister from Japan, who will be one of my best friends till the end of my life (and who showed me, that even assiduous Japanese can get seriously drunk and silly). I LOVE YOU SUPER NAHO!!!  

  Marcus, my favorite ozzy and undisputed the best male chef in the entire freakin universe.   I miss you Marcus.  Having a blast with you in the kitchen, watching boy movies (they´re great man...who needs more than blood and guns???!!!) (and Ryan Reynolds may be...) and being able to talk to you about almost everything, out there on the porch, with lots of ciggis, woodys,... Farewell, friend!  

  And you Tina... There´s so much I´d like to tell you. I probably don´t have to cause you always knew what was on my mind. So  many times you made my day. With all your patience (or better...knowledge of how long it can take), your calmness, honesty and that little bit of silliness, that had to be tickled out, you became a pillar of confidence for me. I do like myself and I wouldn´t want to be anyone else but I hope, in some ways, I´m gonna be a little bit more like you one day.   You made me feel appreciated and I learned not to take myself too serious (at least not all the time). You took that 'cosy' german girl, who knew everything about old, adorable but dull horses and gave her the opportunity to be a student and at last...a teacher. To help horses and 'their humans' to live a happier and more understanding life with each other.   On several occasions I honestly thought about killing you (you know that) but that was what I needed so you didn´t mind being yelled at and you always made me 'work through it' (I´ll never ever forget these words and your voice in my head). With a bit of blood, a lot of tears and even more sweat, I learned to be a trustworthy, reliable leader and a good mum for all my youngsters. Casper (the best teacher besides you), Dixie (the first mare I ever got to like though it took us a while and many many hours in the paddock, playing the catching game), Dan (he just makes my proud every time I look at all the photos. I love you Dan!), Monster (the coolest buddy I ever had. So much like me...), Bessie, Silvana (I don´t really miss her yet...but you never know...), Griffin (the prettiest, smartest, most faithful and fearless little horse I`ve ever met), Luxus, the Kaimanawa, the Lippizaner and all the others. I want you guys to know that any part of your family is more than welcome to stay in our hotel or at my place at any time! If you ever fancy to come to Germany, just let me know.   I am busy working but that´s what I´ve gotta do to save money for my next stay in NZ. I do have a couple of students here in Germany so I have the chance to advance my own knowledge of Natural Horsemanship but it´s not the same without you. And believe it or not but I was lucky enough to meet a great german  man (yes...they do exist...his name is Marcus) and he´s my boyfriend since end of April.   Thanks to all of you a thousand times.   You Kiwis will always have a place in my heart.     Jen


Ottilie Upshall (Sent young horse to be started undersaddle)

Bubble was sent to Starlight Farm as a sweet, but slightly stand-offish, sensitive youngster.  He came home with a very level –headed approach to life, a great work ethic and confident, friendly attitude which has made him a pleasure to work with.  I am delighted to have found a place where I know the young horses can get a great start to their ridden careers.

Kate Sweetman (working student) from Canada 2009

Dear Tina and Marcus, I want to thank you for the wonderful time I had in New Zealand.  I learned not only about horses but also about life.  I enjoyed every day of my stay with you.  You both are doing what you love and I hope you keep on doing it.  You are two very generous people and I think I am so lucky to have found you.

Thank you Marcus for teaching me the basic steps of the Waltz, and how to be assertive when dealing with other people.  Thanks for the laughs and the huge Bonfires!  I've never seen bigger.  Thanks for helping me cook and discovering that I can.  I don't think I will ever find someone who cooks chicken as good as you do.

Thanks Tina for not only being a great boss, but a friend.  You made me feel right at home straight away.  Thanks for giving me the confidence to be independent, and for your patience teaching me natural horsemanship.  I appreciate the responsibility you gave me with your young horses, and I am glad you took me cross country jumping, and made me jump every fence, even when I was scared witless!  If I need a laugh, I can always look at those pictures.

I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of New Zealand at some point.  You have an amazing country.  In my heart I wish to return to New Zealand one day.

You will always be part of my life.


Denise Adamson (student)

Tina has saved our pony and my daughters whole relationship and is ongoing with her help,

encouragement and support. She really is a wonder woman!! Wish we had discovered her years ago and am sure that our pony feels the same:-)   


Heidi Clotworthy (student)

This is the most amazing place Ever, Tina has taught me so much! Its hard to think how I would be riding if I hadn't been introduced to her!! And I would not have the best horse ever either!! Thanks so much! =)


Gemma Kite (Working Student) From England 2009

Starlight Farm........the name itself lights up my heart whenever I think about it.
Tina taught me so much about horses, from handling the youngsters, to a pair of once very scary stallions and a hell of a lot of kids! Put all of those together all at once and anyone can be anyone and do anything. Some days were tough, mostly on me and my emotions, and overcoming fears, but Tina was always there. She introduced me to Parelli, and it took time for me to take off my blinkers and look at the big picture, so much so I have the interest to use the knowledge I have gained and test it on my own horses here. Not only did Tina teach me more about horses but she taught me a lot about people and myself, about the person I want to be.
  Tina was a boss, a friend and sister and sometime's a mother. I loved the responsibility she gave me. I was trusted with the farm when She and Marcus went dancing, organising meal plans for Kids camp and on the few occasions arranging the horses for their individual training.
During my time in New Zealand I did a lot of "Blinking & Thinking" and since being back in the UK the past year I have done a lot of "Licking & Chewing". Without Tina and her patience I would not have made the small changes in my life and be the person I am today.
I'm not hoping to return to New Zealand & Starlight Farm, because I know I will. They are all apart of my life now.........you guys mean the world to me and I will never forget what you have given me; strength, individuality and courage.

Katrina Roberts (student)

Taking "Flash" (my Kaimanawa pony) to Starlight farm has given our partnership a whole new dimension! A dominant mare, that I was scared of at times, Flash had proven too much for me! Both Flash and I needed some serious teaching, and Tina was able not only to work with Flash on the basics, but was able to teach me how to work with Flash. I still have so much to learn, but I feel I have a whole set of tools now (in the form of natural horsemanship skills) that I can draw on. I also know that Tina is at the end of the phone if I'm stuck! Flash and I both wish we'd met her years earlier as that would have saved a lot of heartache! Amazing!
Caption for photograph "Flash having a roll after a day out riding!"


Pauline Gillot (working student) from France 2007

Starlight Farm is not just a stud but a place where we learn a different way of life. In a wonderful place in the Coromandel Peninsula I have learned a different approach of working with horses. But it wasn’t just a work because I also made friends with the Fagan family. It’s not by chance that Starlight horses are brilliant. It’s more thanks to a great work of Tina. She has an open mind and she was smart enough to bring back different ways of work learned from overseas. The success of Starlight Farm can be explained by the great work of Tina and also by the support of her parents and her sister Julia. Starlight farm is far away from the rat race of the European life. It’s a place where I spent 6 months in 2007 and where I have been received like a member of the family. I remember Starlight Farm fondly. I have never found this wonderful state of mind again and that’s why I keep a memorable memory of my period in New Zealand. Tina has been the best employer I have ever had and turned into a great friend too. "


Annette Thomas (working student) from England 2009

I spent three months at Starlight Farm last September to December and had the most amazing time. having just started getting back into horses, I learnt so much made some great friends and have some truly wonderful memories of foaling, clinics, hacks, Whitianga, skydiving the list goes on! You guys have such an amazing country, hope to return one day.


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