Monday 19th of October 2020

Jesse Campbell, Part 2: Slowly but surely for team of promising youngsters

Jesse and Kaapy Dec 2015

In Part 2 of his new blog for The Gaitpost, Kiwi eventer, Jesse Campbell, shares the progress of his horses over the winter and also offers some great advice on knowing when to move up to the next level.


“I’m really excited for the new season, with a lovely team of horses and a great team of staff.

The first event in March will be upon us before we know it and before that I will be heading to Belgium for showjumping training with Grant Wilson and continuing dressage lessons with Isobel Wessels.


We have several new young horses and I will be producing them very quietly ensuring that all the foundations are firmly laid for their future careers at higher levels and you’ll here a lot more about as the year progresses. Among the older horses are Apart VD Hoefsflag (Harry) , Cleveland who will be aimed at Bramham CIC3*, Amsterdam who goes for Bramham’s CCI3* and Kaapachino who heads to Badminton in May.

Producing horses with set targets in mind comes from being raised in New Zealand where there are few competitions and the ground conditions are sometimes not great for horses. You learn to use these events to educate horses with the bigger goals in mind.

In New Zealand we have one CCI competition in the spring and another in the autumn. With no other options, you can’t re-route so conditions dictate that you produce your horses very slowly so that you get them to the main events because if your horse picks up an injury in the lead up to the event, that its. You have to wait another six months or longer for the next international competition.

It’s also common sense. I don’t see the point in going for it across country to finish ninth or tenth in an intermediate class and would rather give my horse a good experience, further his education and then be in a competitive position at a CIC or CCI. This might mean going slowly, taking a turn before a fence if I feel we’re not on a good stride and representing, or making changes within the pace so that I know my horse is listening to me. 

At the novice levels I will make sure the horse isn’t running through the bridle or behind the leg. You school them to get a feel of how they are travelling while allowing them to develop a rhythm. When I ask a horse to go fast, I want him to do it in a nice way.

There are very big steps from novice to intermediate and intermediate to advanced and it is much better to make mistakes at novice level. If a problem develops at advanced level it is much more difficult to correct it. It means that sometimes we’ll rattle up the penalties across country, but the horse will finish full of confidence and ready for the next question.

Running horses like this isn’t always an option as owners want results, and I am extremely fortunate to have owners who are very understanding of the fact that it is a long-term process.

You are not going to win every event but you will get the results at the higher levels.

You will know when you are ready to move up a level, as you will be training at that level at home, and you will start to find competing at the level you are at boring!

But never move up unless you are ready and confident, as that’s when mistakes happen. Have an A plan and a B plan and don’t be too single minded about making it happen.

Last year we really wanted to take Kaapachino to Badminton but three or four weeks before we knew it wasn’t going to happen so we changed tack and got a great result in Luhmuhlen.

Until next time,


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