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She’s been at the top of her game for years, and showing no signs of slowing up!
We caught up with her at the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier in Kyalami to find out more about riding in a country that, despite no shortage of either equine nor human talent, has struggled to make a name for itself on the international stage.
With few South African riders ever receiving the opportunity to compete internationally, we asked Lisa whether she would consider a move overseas;
“It would be every South African rider’s dream to live and compete Internationally, but there are a few obstacles that stand in our way. Our exchange rate being so weak makes it a very expensive exercise. Also, because of African Horse Sickness, we can’t export horses directly from SA to Europe.
Currently the horses spend time in Cape Town and then they are flown to Mauritius for a three-month quarantine period. There are no advanced veterinary theatre and surgery facilities in Mauritius, which, for me, means putting my horse at risk.”
Discovery Campbell has always been a show off, and Lisa says that he is a wonderful horse to compete on as he knows his job and gets down to business as soon as his bell rings - though he keeps Lisa on her toes and the ego in check by "regularly spinning and bucking and then staring at me as I sit on the ground!”
The show was held at Kyalami Park Club, a facility which Lisa says is ‘amazing’ and which "we are really privileged to have in South Africa."
KPC is a major player in the South African equestrian scene. Enormous even by global standards, it comprises a Derby arena, as well as numerous grass, sand and fibre Jumping and Dressage arenas.
It also plays host to the SA Derby every October, one of the country’s foremost jumping events similar in style to the Hickstead Derby, complete with a huge bank and dyke!
The quality and value of the horses competing has also risen exponentially alongside it.
In fact, it’s now not unusual at all to see horses with breeding very similar to the top horses in Europe, though they come with a very hefty price tag.
Despite this, there is very little prize money available and no support for the sport on a national level, meaning even international-standard athletes have little assistance to help them make a name for themselves on the international circuit.
But even with these challenges, Lisa remains positive. Riding in South Africa, as with everywhere, is a great privilege;
“South Africans are lucky enough to have many really good grooms available to assist us, which makes competing and keeping horses much easier. There are also loads of amazing yards and professional training centres available to us.”
“South Africa, and (in my opinion) Gauteng in particular has amazing weather and competition venues, which makes the sport, training, and so on more fun and much easier.”
Riding in the sun, with no mucking out? Sounds like paradise if you ask us...
Text by Sophie Kate Baker
Images by Jacqueline Wood