Tuesday 19th of January 2021

Jesse Campbell on the ethos behind Kiwi success

© Libby Law
© Libby Law


In his new column for The Gaitpost, international event rider Jesse Campbell gives us an insight into the ethos behind Kiwi success and the mindset required to make it in England.




Boekelo was a fantastic experience. I was part of the New Zealand Nations Cup team and the goal was to qualify for Rio 2016, which we did.

Kaapy (Kaapachino) gave me one of the best rounds across country I’ve ever had. It was magical and every distance was perfect. We were one second over the time, which was a bit annoying, as I wanted to be bang on, but it was great.

He tried as hard as he could in the showjumping but it didn’t happen on the day. We know showjumping is his weak phase, and having given everything and more on the cross country he didn’t have much left for the showjumping.

JC schooling 2He’s having a holiday now and will come back into work at the end of November and in preparation for Badminton.  He’s the most wonderful horse because he puts me in a position where I am under a lot of pressure and I am becoming more comfortable with this. He’s getting me the mileage at the very top level in preparation for the future.

Being part of the New Zealand High Performance Squad is great.

We’re all very relaxed and chilled around each other – I guess that’s in the Kiwi blood – but beneath that laid back exterior there’s a really strong underlying desire for us to be the best. We expect every single person on our squad to pull their weight and have that same commitment to continually bettering themselves.

For a New Zealander to make it in England you have to have a huge amount of drive and ambition and be strong mentally. You have to take all the knocks and you have to deal with them on your own, as you don’t have your family around supporting you. That’s huge and anyone relocating here is going to be seriously committed to making a success of it.

JC SchoolingWe have a lot of team training together and socially we all get on very well. We all live very close to each too in Wiltshire so there’s plenty of opportunity to see each other. We all have the same passion, drive and we want to improve ourselves.  Because we are all so ambitious and determined but relaxed as well we all gravitate together. I think it’s our mindset.  If one of the squad members does well we are all genuinely pleased for that person. Obviously we all want to win as individual but equally we really are genuinely pleased when our team mates do well.

The ethos behind Kiwi success is patience. In NZ we don’t have a lot of money or a big pool of riders to choose from so we’re nurtured and so are the horses. Our careers are very structured with the long-term results in mind. It’s the same for all New Zealand sports, and having that back up is great for your morale, because once you’re in, you’re in it for the long term.

JC schooling 3Our instructors want us to perform but there is also an understanding that horses don’t always go well. The main thing is that we are always seen to be improving.

We have dressage and showjumping team sessions once a month but a lot of what we do is self-driven. We turn up at these training days because we want to be better, we ask questions and we analyse our performances.

Being part of the New Zealand squad is as good as it looks. We stick together because we want to be together and that gives you a tremendous sense of morale. It’s a lot of fun too!


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