Burghley first-timers: Samantha Lissington — ‘I grew up sailing around the South Pacific’

New Zealand rider Samantha Lissington’s journey to Burghley started when she swapped a childhood sailing around the South Pacific for a pony.

The 28-year-old Kiwi made her debut at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials aboard Ricker Ridge Rui, who she bought unseen with the intention of selling on.

Now the pair have taken on one of the biggest events in the world and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them in the sport in the UK.

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“I only let myself get properly excited on the Monday before the event because we are nearly there and it has been such an effort to get to this point, so you don’t let yourself get excited until you are packing the truck,” Samantha told H&H.

Samantha moved across the world from New Zealand two months ago and has been based with Ginny Thompson in the Cotswolds and are set to move to the Hungerford area the day after Burghley.

“I grew up on a boat and we spent a long time sailing. When I was eight and my sister was six we were sailing around the South Pacific and met up with some family friends, who were avocado farmers in New Zealand,” said Samantha.

“My parents wanted to move there, but my sister and I had our friends in Australia, so they sold it to us by saying they would buy us a pony.”

Samantha added they knew nothing about horses, but they came up through the Pony Club and learnt what it was all about.

“We went to watch the New Zealand Pony Club eventing championships and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, but seemed unobtainable. I thought ‘if I can do that, I will be happy’,” she said.

“My first horse was called 1600 DOHC Turbo , which is a motorcar engine — he was a fantastic cross-country horse. He was jumping around 1.05ms at the time and I was jumping about 65cm, and both of us went all the way up to old two-star together.”

The pair won a 10-day training scholarship with Jock Paget, which is what kick-started her eventing career.

Samantha has brought four horses over to the UK with her, which was funded via the sale of an eventer to the Quigley family, who also part-own her Burghley ride “Rui”.

She bought the horse, by German Holsteiner stallion Littorio, sight-unseen at an auction as a youngster, with the intention of selling him on.

“It was a little bit spontaneous, but we got quite lucky with our spontaneity,” she laughed, adding she tried but couldn’t sell him as a five-year-old.

“He is the wrong shape, very angular and not built to do dressage. But he is a very good jumper and has a huge engine — it’s like he was made for Burghley.

“Being here is really special and it really makes you realise what an honour it is to get to these big events.”

Samantha and Rui completed Burghley’s testing cross-country course and head into the final phase in 33rd place.

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