In her matric year (2001), Danielle was the recipient of the Chairman’s Award and the Nedbank Sportswoman of the Year Award in recognition of her equestrian achievements representing Oakhill and the Eastern Cape, and as Eastern Cape Eventing Champion.
She followed this passion for horse-riding when she left school, gaining further experience with one of the UK’s leading eventing yards, Equestrian Direct. This provided access to some of the best competitions in the world, including Hartpury, Weston Park and Burghley. She was privileged to be taught by leading equestrian instructors and Olympians, Nick Skelton and Erica Winter.
When Danielle returned to South Africa in 2003 she studied for a BCom at Varsity College Rondebosch, Cape Town and did a spell in marketing and advertising before returning to Knysna and her true passion – horses.
In 2009 Danielle founded DP Equestrian in Rheenendal, on the outskirts of Knysna, with a strong belief in the joy of riding and a handful of clients. Since then, her pupils of all ages have competed successfully both locally and nationally and many of them have earned school, SWD and Western Province colours and won at national SANESA level.
In 2014, when Oakhill acquired its Sports Campus at Eastford, Danielle was offered the opportunity to relocate and develop new facilities adjacent to the campus. It was “a dream come true”.
“I jumped at the chance to be right next to the recently developed Oakhill Sports Campus (OSC) because many of my pupils are enrolled at Oakhill, and it’s conveniently situated for all the other Knysna schools as well. It’s also a huge benefit for me to be associated with the OSC, which offers state-of-the-art hockey, rugby, soccer and cricket facilities, including an AstroTurf hockey field.”
She now offers state-of-the-art horse riding facilities for both Oakhill students and those from other schools in the area, with facilities which include a dressage and show jumping arena, a unique 3 km perimeter training track and cross country jumps, as well as stabling for 20 horses and professional tuition for all ages and levels.
Danielle says she believes Oakhill equipped her with the right skills for establishing her own business. “The small classes and engaging teachers taught me to think for myself, analyse situations correctly and approach situations with the utmost confidence,” she says.
Some of her favourite memories at Oakhill include great adventures with PeeBee on school tours.
“I’m very proud of Oakhill today and all the new facilities. It’s wonderful to watch your school grow and achieve as it has done under Shane Kidwell’s leadership.”