Kiwi equestrian ace Samantha Lissington clears hurdles to thrive in UK

When NZ equestrian Samantha Lissington moved to the United Kingdom last year, she thought the hardest part would be packing up her life and four horses and simply getting there. 

The 28-year-old has since had to contend with a global pandemic, cancelled events, and a delay to her bid for an Olympic spot. 

But Lissington may have found a silver lining, after her move from the Waikato to Wiltshire.

"We were a bit like 'why not? Let's go and take a leap of faith," Lissington tells Newshub.

"Off we went, so we're just going to survive as long as we can and keep trucking on."

She hit the ground running with a debut at last year's Burghley, where she rode Ricker Ridge Rui.

Soon afterwards, her momentum came to halt, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of much of the 2020 season, including Badminton, Burghley, and the Olympics.

"Not having the big events means less profile for us… it's much harder to get owners and investors and sponsors," Lissington adds.

But the four months of lockdown gave her time to properly settle into her new stables, which has been a blessing in disguise for Sooty, a young inexperienced horse she's hoping to take to Tokyo next year.

"It gives us an extra year to get him ready, so it was a win for us," says Lissington.

As scaled-back, spectator-free events began appearing on the calendar, the pair created mock-trials at home to prepare.

"I put my competition jacket on, pretended like I had a judge. We tried to emulate the competition environment, and make me a bit nervous."

Lissington has been competing since lockdown restrictions eased in early July, and her next meet is at Burgham on Wednesday (NZ time).

The event will be her seventh in five weeks. She's hoping to repeat her winning form from both the Cholmondeley Castle and Barbury Horse Trials and make NZ proud.

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