• Fran Cleland

He's got film-star looks but Zulu II is not just a pretty face


ABOVE: Zulu II and Nirrelle Somerville in action. Picture: Equine Promotions Australia

THE stand-out performer at the Australian Sports Pony Registry dressage event at Werribee Park last weekend was Nirrelle Somerville’s upstanding Friesian, Zulu II.


Zulu II is a purebred Friesian, aged 10 and standing at about 16hh, purchased with the intention of being a liberty entertainment horse for joint owner Steve Cox Equine Entertainment.


While he is steadily climbing the ladder as a dressage horse, he has an interesting background.


He has featured in commercials and an upcoming US television series for Paws on film, as well as taking to the stage in Opera Australia’s production of Attila at the Sydney Opera House in 2020/2021.


ABOVE: On stage at the Sydney Opera House.

Unfortunately, Covid shut down all shows, but 2022 is looking promising for all performances to go ahead.


“He was started under saddle as a six-year-old and I thought he showed great promise for the dressage arena with his natural cadence and trainability,” Nirrelle said.


“He quickly climbed the levels in HRCAV (Horse Riding Clubs Association of Victoria), gaining his 100-point award in under 12 months and winning the 2019 top 10 dressage award.”


At the weekend competition Zulu won the open advanced level jackpot, with solid scores in both tests.


“He’s just the best horse. He goes on set, he goes at Liberty, he does dressage, he’s very special,” Nirrelle said.


At the other end of the scale, the pony dressage tests were filled to capacity and performances were of real quality.


Pony dressage was once considered just a fun arena for kids but times have well and truly changed.

Today, they are purpose-bred and compete alongside big horses in all levels of tests, being marked with the respect they deserve.


At the ASPR event, they mixed it with the big guys and as the event organiser Rossanne Mason said, “they are now not just children’s mounts, although of course they are perfect for that”.


Ms Mason’s imported German Riding Pony stallion Triple Trees Prince Perfect has several offspring competing successfully for adults and children.


“Many adults find they are not capable of controlling big powerful horses in dressage and they can do the higher-level tests just as easily, and more comfortably, on a pony.”


Click for full results from the ASPR dressage event.