EVENTING PROFILE: as the new season approaches, New Zealander Jesse Campbell makes a new start - with his fiancée
Spring brings the start of the new eventing season in Europe - and it's bringing an exciting and fresh start for New Zealand eventer Jesse Campbell.
He recently became engaged to his partner fellow eventer Georgie Strang - and last weekend (February 16) she moved her horses to the stables he is based at near Ramsbury. They live in Marlborough.
"We're creating what you might call a consolidated operation. The stables' owners - Elizabeth and Stephen Martin - have been really supportive. It'll be great - it's a lonely sport - and incredibly hard to do it on your own. It'll be a bit of a partnership - allowing us to build a team together."Jesse told marlboroughequestrian.news:
Last year we profiled Georgie Strang soon after she had moved to the area from Kent to be based with Sir Mark Todd at Badgerstown - a few miles from Ramsbury.
Jesse Campbell is an athlete with the New Zealand Eventing High Performance programme. He came to Britain nine years ago and spent eighteenth months working for Andrew Nicholson at Lockeridge.
Then early in 2012 he set out on his own: "With some saddles and a bridle or two - I was beginning pretty much from scratch. My parents were very supportive."
Last year he was reserve for New Zealand's team at the World Equestrian Games in the USA. One senses a little regret about that as the team that went to the Games did not all work out too well.
This year it is the European Championships - being held in Germany at Luhmühlen and not, of course, open to the New Zealand riders. But it is not a year off for those New Zealanders based in the UK. They will be concentrating on Nations Cup competitions - and, most importantly, preparations for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Nearly all New Zealand Eventing's senior riders are based in the UK: "We Kiwis are very lucky - there's a very good system in place with training days. The system is designed to bring improvements to our squad. The system's the key to everything."The stables near Ramsbury are in a valley right on the edge of the downs. There is a full size arena with mirror and jumps and an all weather gallop. Jesse has sixteen horses there and Georgie is adding another fourteen.
The latter, known as Otto at the stables, is a thirteen year-old Holsteiner gelding: "With no previous dressage or cross-country experience he quickly impressed when he joined my team. Within a few months he won his way to Novice and went on to be 2nd in a highly competitive UK Novice Regional final. He is now an impressive 3Star international competitor representing Team NZ in the Nations Cup."Jesse's two lead horses are Cleveland and Amsterdam.
His other lead horse is Cleveland - a thirteen year-old gelding known as Freddy. He is 17 hands. As Jesse Campbell is 6 feet 6 inches tall, he chooses big horses for his team. He says he knew by the time he was thirteen he could not become a jockey.
He rode Freddy into fourth place in Barbury's CIC 3* last July.
The Barbury International Horse Trials are Jesse Campbell's local event: "I really hope it happens this year. It's my home event and it's my favourite event. It's pretty unique in the eventing world - a beautiful setting with the best for viewing for spectators."
"It's also a great cross country to ride - undulating and challenging - you need to be smart and a good horseman to succeed over it." Barbury - now 'under new management' - is scheduled for 4-7 July.
Long before that Jesse Campbell is hoping for a place in the Badminton International 4Star.
Last year his fiancee, Georgie Strang, had her first entry in that prestigious event. And Jesse campbell first completed Badminton in 2016 - riding Kaapachino. What will this year bring the couple?
It was a chilly and bright day when I went to see Jesse Campbell and his team. The sun was shining onto the arena mirror, but turn around and a thick fog was just beginning to lift off the shaded side of the valley.
Jesse was enjoying the sunshine: "This", he said smiling, "is England at its best."
You can find information about all team Campbell's horses here.