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5 minutes with Chris Burton

Chris Burton and  Nobilis 18 - Aachen - Photo credit Roger Fitzhardinge

Chris Burton, pictured here on Nobilis 18 at CHIO Aachen.

© Roger Fitzhardinge


By Equestrian Life

Eventing star Chris Burton has been named on the Australian eventing team for Word Equestrian Games alongside Shane Rose, Sam Griffiths, Bill Levett and Andrew Hoy. With WEG less than a month away, we caught up with Chris to talk about his WEG mount Cooley Lands, cross country tips for young riders, what it means for him to represent Australia — and also how fatherhood has changed his perspective on competing.

EQ LIFE: Tell us a little about your WEG horse, Cooley Lands?

CHRIS: Cooley Lands is a lovely uncomplicated horse; he has a real passion for the sport and is a very fast cross country horse. He wouldn’t be the fanciest moving horse in the field, but he can do a lovely correct test and what he lacks in the dressage he makes up for in the jumping.


Chris Burton and Cooley Lands, winners of the SsangYong Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CIC3* 8/9 year old horse class. © Adam Fanthorpe

Chris Burton and Cooley Lands, pictured here at Blenheim Palace .

© Adam Fanthorpe

EQ LIFE: You've represented Australia at major championships number of times (WEG in 2010, and the Olympics in 2012 and 2016). What does it mean to you to compete at WEG this year in Tryon?

CHRIS: It is always such an honour to compete for Australia and it is why we put in all the long hours, blood, sweat and tears. Watching Australian teams win medals in the past is what inspired me to become a professional event rider.

EQ LIFE: You're one of the quickest and most consistent cross country riders in the world — if you could give young riders tips for riding cross country, what would they be?

CHRIS: Making the time cross country is about riding smoothly, not quickly. We see so many riders flying between fences, hauling on their horses’ heads before the fence then kicking the horse away from the fence. This wastes a number of seconds at each fence. Times that by 25 and you are at least a minute slower. When I walk the course I look for shorter lines and I am always looking for the line that is kindest on the horse. Walking the course is so much more than just looking at the fences.

The other tip I would give is that control is so important. You cannot work on this enough. I set up two poles 6-8 strides apart and practice riding it in as many and as fewer strides as I can. All my horses do this exercise at least a few times a week. Being able to ask you horse to move up and to come back to you on a light aid saves you time on the cross country, and makes riding the course much safer and much more enjoyable for you and your horse.

EQ LIFE: Becoming a father last year, has it changed your approach/outlook on competing at all?

CHRIS: It certainly helps with perspective in the tougher times. I was so upset about having two rails in Kentucky but when I was walking out of the ring, Bek and Harry were standing in the shoot with the biggest smiles on their faces and most of the disappointment faded away. I am lucky that they have been able to come with me for most of my events, so not too much has changed.

Best of luck at WEG, Chris!


Chris Burton on Cooley Lands and Sammi Birch on Hunter Valley II - © William Carey

Chris Burton on Cooley Lands, pictured here with Sammi Birch on Hunter Valley II.

© William Carey





Issue 43


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