‘Nothing else gives me that excitement’: Burghley first-timer Susie Berry on the magic of the horse-human partnership and her breakthrough year

  • Irish Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Susie Berry Eventing chats to Horse & Hound about what sparked her love of horses, catching the eventing bug and her World Championships call-up *Please be patient to allow the video below to load*

    Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials first-timer Susie Berry had planned to keep eventing as a hobby, a sporting passion enjoyed for fun while she forged her career elsewhere.

    Fast forward eight years and the Irish event rider is one of the nation’s most exciting breakthrough talents, with a string of horses at top level and her first senior championship on the horizon.

    “I feel like all this year has been a little bit crazy. Until I stop, it won’t really sink in,” says Susie, whose top rides are owned by Nick and Helen Caton.

    This has been a pivotal year for the 25-year-old, who made her five-star debut at Badminton in the spring with John The Bull and is competing at Burghley Horse Trials this week with the 13-year-old Ringwood LB (pictured, top). Added to that, Susie was named on Tuesday as part of the Irish squad heading to the eventing World Championships with Monbeg By Design.

    “Monbeg By Design is just the most gorgeous horse. Last year he picked up a little injury. We didn’t know if he would come back from it, but he has come back better than ever and it makes it even more special,” she says.

    “I love them all, don’t get me wrong. But he wouldn’t naturally find it that easy and he tries so hard. It makes me a bit emotional talking about him, because he is such a little trier.”

    This step up to top level has been meticulously planned and is supported by a solid foundation of competition experience.

    “I’ve put it off a few times to make sure I’m really ready,” says the Wesko Equestrian Foundation graduate, who brings Helen Caton’s Ringwood LB here following a strong performance at Bramham Horse Trials CCI4*-L, where they finished fifth.

    “My mum breeds National Hunt horses and sells them as foals, so we have always had horses growing up. I showjumped until I was 14 then I got a Connemara pony who got me into it and I got the bug. I always told myself that I wanted to have it as a hobby and just enjoy it, without the pressure of making it your business. Then I went to Piggy [March]. I was meant to be there for a gap year. Eight years later, here we are.”

    That love of horses and the horse-human connection underpins Susie’s drive and ethos as a rider, and as a competitor.

    “Getting on the cross-country course, there’s no feeling like it. You can’t get that thrill really any other way,” says Susie.

    “You think as one, rather than you make a decision and they have to catch up with your thought process.

    “I love it, nothing else gives me the excitement as making a partnership with a horse and getting them to this level.”

    Susie and Ringwood LB’s performance between Burghley’s white boards was rewarded with a score of 29.3, putting them in touching distance of the leaders at this stage.

    “I’m over the moon with him and there’s way more to come,” she adds. “He must be nearly 18hh, but he doesn’t ride that big. He is very polite, but quite lazy.

    “He has done a lot of four-stars, seen a lot of atmosphere, and I think he grows with that. Doing one-day events is a bit of a pain, a bit of a crowd atmosphere brings him to life.”

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