Wow — we’re less than a month away from what most event riders regard as the toughest four-star cross-country on this planet (although, I have to say I think Eric Winter did a phenomenal job of increasing the level of difficulty at Badminton this year), and I could not be more excited to be heading to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
My name is Lissa Green, I’m 28, living in Wiltshire and this will be my second attempt at CCI4* level. Once again, my partner will be Malin Head Clover (Ali G at home). He’s the most amazing little horse who stands at just 15.2hh, is so long he wears a 6ft9 rug, is as wide as a bull and has front legs a fair few inches shorter than his hind ones. He’s not the most conventional shape for a top level event horse, but when they have a heart like his, why would conformation stop you?!
And what a heart he has. We had the most amazing first four-star attempt at Badminton this year and I’ve never had more fun in my life. I swear that once we crossed the finish line, if I’d asked him to go round again, he’d have said “OK, let’s go”. He just doesn’t quit — a huge quality that I admire so much in him. If he was a human you’d want him in your team. His work ethic is unparalleled, even in the mundane day-to-day stuff at home.
We sadly didn’t get to complete Badminton this year as he came out a little stiff on the final day and we took the sensible decision to withdraw. Looking back, it clearly wasn’t meant to be. I was so unwell throughout Badminton and felt so weak that I used every ounce of reserve energy I had in piloting him around the cross-country on the Saturday. Despite his height, Ali is a seriously strong horse and I have to work extremely hard to balance him on every stride and not just the ones approaching the fences. Had he showjumped on the final day I don’t think I would have been able to help him much, as I could barely hold myself upright.
So, in a way, I feel I have some unfinished business and am desperate to complete my first four-star. Hopefully I will be fully fit this time and I’m aiming for a clear cross-country with a clear showjumping as the icing on the cake. Not being a natural dressage pony I would also love to achieve a mid-50’s mark or better, but his choppy little Irish trot isn’t an immediate wow factor to the judges. But we work with what we’ve got and he does try, although he would much rather jump the car at the end of the centre line.
Despite being the daughter of six-time Badminton winner…
If truth be told, Ali and I wouldn’t be doing what we do without his owners, The Ali G Syndicate. They are the most amazing group of people and the journey we’ve been on has created incredible memories and life-long friends. My sponsors also, are the core to my team.
And of course, Ali G himself. I genuinely don’t think I will ever be able to repay my little Trojan horse for what he’s given me so far. He has no idea how many dreams he’s already made come true.