Catriona Williams began riding as a four year old, in front of the saddle of her mother Maureen as they shifted sheep and cattle on the McLeod family's Wairarapa farm. Catriona's love for horses has never wavered and with the support of both her parents and her Number 1 sponsor NRM she achieved a number of accolades during her competitive career. These included:
- Twice winner of Pony of the Year on her fabulous ponies Meisha and Harlequin
- Bomac Grand Prix winner at the NZ Horse of the Year 2001 with NRM Falcon
- Bell Tea 2 and 3 Star CCI winners on NRM Preview and NRM Graphic respectively
- 15th Badminton, 15th Open Europeans - Burghley, 15th Saumur with NRM Win For Me
- Competing at the 1999 World Cup Showjumping Final in Sweden on NRM Falcon
Catriona competed at both Grand Prix level Showjumping and Advanced level Eventing, a rare feat also achieved by the likes of Olympians Mark Todd, Blyth Tait and Vaughn Jefferies.
Catriona's passion for horses has continued despite a shattering fall on 10 November 2002. Competing at an event in the North Island of New Zealand, spinal cord injuries left Catriona a C6-7 tetraplegic. However while the accident may have changed her mobility, it definitely has not stopped her drive and determination.
Working from a wheelchair meant a steep learning curve in everyday life skills for both Catriona and her husband Sam.
Although things slowed down initially it wasn't long before everyone was back on track with Catriona taking over the communication and marketing of Little Avondale. The use of today's technology has enabled Catriona to maximize every opportunity presented.
Her friends will also admit that keeping up with Catriona in her specially adapted car is not easy. She's totally independent in it and regularly drives a number of important and trusting people!
Out of the car, her chair features new e-motion wheels and is further proof that life with Catriona on wheels is not too different to life on legs - if anything it's faster!
Catriona says she has received overwhelming support since the accident and is keen to share a special message with the community.
"I know people may feel sorry for me but it's good to remember that it's my body that's a little broken, and not my personality! This is true of everyone in a chair."
In addition to her role at Little Avondale, Catriona also commits a great deal of her time to The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Trust www.catwalk.org.nz, established by a group of friends close to Catriona. They, like her, are keen to support SCI research so that they can see all those in wheelchairs back on their feet again.
In November 2010 Catriona, Double Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Todd and 23 other friends (along witth 35 supporters) completed the New York Marathon. Supported by Icebreaker, The Shoe Clinic, Cathay Pacific, Bell Tea, Inglis, Coverstaff and many others they raised $350,000 to go towards SCI research. Each year CatWalk send a team...interested...just give the CatWalk team a call +64 6 3775430.
In June/July 2013 Catriona along with two other Tetraplegics Rob Creagh and Neil Cudby and a passionate group of 12 ablebodied friends, which included husband Sam, CatWalk Trustee Scott Malcolm, CatWalk ambassador Penny Barnett and riding friend Michael Weston, they cycled to Everest Base Camp. A world first (handcyclists cycling to Base Camp) that with the assistance of incredibly generous supporters raised approximately $600,000 for CatWalk, SCIN and SCI research
In 2014 Catriona gained a Top 3 spot in Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year , induction into the NRM NZ Horse of the Year Show Hall of Fame and was presented with one of the country's honours, an MNZM.
2015 celebrated a 10 year anniversary for CatWalk with a black tie fundraiser at Skycity. Approximately $420,000 was raised with the support of many passionate volunteers. Main sponsors Godolphin, Darley, Crowe Howarth and Skycity ensured the 800 guests had a funfilled evening. It was MC'ed by CatWalk's latest National Patron Toni Street with VIP guest International Patron Zara Phillips flying in to show her support.
2016 brought about an Olympic adventure to Rio to support NZ's athletes along with a win at the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards in the Community and Not-for-Profit division.
In February 2017 Catriona teamed up with school friend Bron Kemp and husband Sam to do the 90kmcycling leg of the Wanaka Challenge - a magical location and event that delivers on all expectations and in Catrionas words a 'must do' for any keen athlete. She was als part of a very small and dynamic committee that included Anna Hiatt, Caroline Abbiss, Helen Forsyth and the CatWalk office team that raised $350,000 for CatWalk at a Black Tie fundraising dinner in Queenstown held at the AJ Hackett Bungy Centre titled 'Remarkable'. It was a privlage to work with the events major sponsors Godolphin and AJ Hackett to ensure the night was unforgettable. A five day off road cycling trip, (on a handcycle designed for the tarseal) to celebrate a close friends 50th in Wanaka, and swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth have also been ticked off the bucket list!