‘As soon as I made a mistake, it was always highlighted’: Lissa Green on what it was like growing up as a daughter of eventing royalty

  • Five-star event rider Lissa Green grew up as the daughter of eventing royalty. Her parents are six-time Badminton winner Lucinda Green and multi-Olympian David Green.

    Lissa spoke to H&H’s Gemma Redrup on the most recent episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast about a range of topics, including what it was like having such well-known parents in her early years.

    “I wasn’t aware at all to be honest at the beginning,” explains Lissa when asked if she realised her parents were famous when she was a child. “You grow up with what you know as the norm and spending each weekend going to another random field on the edge of the English countryside is just what we did.

    “I loved it, it was a very obscure childhood. I used to meet up with Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd’s children at each of the shows and aged eight or nine onwards, we’d roam free with our £5 for the day, which we thought was the world’s best and then met up with our parents at the end of the day and cracked on.”

    Lissa states that eventing has always been her first love, but that it was a relaxed affair in her younger years.

    “It was always very unserious in the first years on any begged, borrowed or stolen horse,” says Lissa, who started eventing in 2003. “The first horse I evented was borrowed from a lovely lady called Ants McKeowen and he used to have fences down with his tummy, because he was like a Thelwell pony – he picked his toes up, but his tummy couldn’t quite make it! But it was great fun and a great learning experience.”

    Speaking of the pros and cons of having David and Lucinda as parents, Lissa is honest in her answer that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

    “It’s very easy to see the pros looking from the outside, which are obvious, such as amazing knowledge and support is something I’ve never been short of, which has been very spoiling,” she explains. “The cons were a little bit trickier in that I was a young girl growing up with everyone watching and as mum would say, everyone was watching every second, which brought great pressure. As soon as I made a mistake, it was always highlighted.

    “Mum got the luxury of growing up in eventing and making all her mistakes with no one watching. And it is a sport where you have to make mistakes to learn and get better and I think as a teenager and in my early 20s, it wasn’t something that I overly adored.”

    Lissa uses one experience to highlight this problem.

    “I remember coming eighth in a JRN [now open novice under-18] and watching the scoreboard. A mum said to her daughter, having no idea I was stood next to them, saying ‘Oh, well done, you’ve beaten Lucinda Green’s daughter – she must be terrible compared to her mother’.

    “Fortunately I’m quite an outgoing person, but I do hold a lot of things internally. You just have to try to pretend you don’t care, but it prevented me from going for it in my youth. It was the fear of failure; if I was putting everything into it and not winning, it would have been too difficult to deal with.”

    To hear more from Lissa Green, including some of her most-loved rides during her career, what the future holds and what becoming a mother has been like, listen to episode 149 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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