20 Questions with Sam Griffiths

Dorset-based Sam is originally from Australia. He has recently had some very successful seasons, being placed 3rd at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2009, and placed 4th this year. Sam won the Express Eventing Series 2011 Qualifier at The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park with the best dressage score of the whole Series – and, as such, was the first rider to beat Matthew Wright at an Express Eventing Qualifier this year.


1. How old were you when you started riding, who introduced you to riding and which was your first horse?

I started riding when I was about 6 , on my older brother’s pony called Snowy, who was a 11 hh grey shetland with a really big head. She would often make us fall off when she shook her self at the standstill!

2. How did you choose the music for the dressage to music phase? I borrowed the music from a good friend of mine, who has a similar horse, and luckily it really suits my horse.

3. Do you think horses enjoy the music, and do you feel it makes a difference to their/your performance? My horse really gets into the music, and enjoys it and it helps to get me into a good rhythm to ride him.

4. How much practice did the dressage to music phase take? The music has taken a lot of practice to get the floor plan and all the movements in that we wanted. I have also listened to the music endlessly so to help with my timing. Getting it sorted was a bit of a relationship tester with my wife, but we got through it! 5. What has been your most memorable moment of the Express Eventing 2011 Series so far? I really loved my time at the Gatcombe qualifier. I had so much fun that I wish that I had done all of the qualifiers.

6. Who would be in your dream multi-national Olympic eventing team? Toddy, William Fox-Pitt, Andrew Hoy and Stuart Tinney ( with Phillip Dutton as first reserve )

7. Do you reward your horses for a good performance and, if so, how? They get lots of pats and then time off after the competition

8. What has been the highlight of your career to date and why? One of my proudest things was receiving the Amada dish from Badminton for five completions. To me this means that getting to Badminton and finishing wasn't a fluke, as I had done it 5 times (all on different horses!)

9. What was your favourite subject at school and why? I always enjoyed geography and was pretty good at it, so I studied it at Uni. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to help me now.

10. If you weren’t a professional event rider what would you like to do? I have always loved being outdoors, so something outside. I also have a bit of a passion for flat racing, so I could have been tempted to be a race horse trainer, but that is pretty similar to being an eventer.

11. What would you most like to win that you haven’t already? Like most, I would love to win a 4 star and an Olympic medal, but in the short term my eyes are on the Express Eventing Final.

12. What is your favourite holiday destination? I am a bit of a beach fan, so anywhere that is warm.

13. Which horse would you most like to have had the opportunity to compete on and why? I have always been a real admirer of Vaughn Jefferies horse Bounce. When I was starting out my career as an eventer, Bounce was skipping around 4 stars for fun. He was a horse from what I could tell had everything. Lovely on the Flat, careful and scopey jumper, full of stamina and on top of this a nice horse to handle.

14. When did you last fall off? I have a tricky youngster at home that got me off a couple of months ago. I now lunge him a lot before I get on!

15. Do you have any pets at home? My wife and I have a little white Jack Russell that is a real character that seem to keep us entertained, especially after a bad day at the office.

16. What’s your favourite meal – and can you cook it? I am a bit of a seafood platter guy, and have one only as a treat on special occasions. I love my cooking and find it relaxing so I try to do it when I can.

17. Do you have any lucky charms or superstitions? I do have a lucky whip (not so lucky for the horses) that I have had for about 15 years, and it has been around some big Cross Country courses. I have had various superstitions over the years, but I am slowly getting over them.

18. What’s your favourite one-day event? The UK is blessed with some great ODE's - Chatsworth, Belton, Longleat, Barbury. But this year I was lucky enough to go and do a CIC 3 star in Aachen in Germany, that was incredible. In one arena was all the best show jumpers in the world, in the other was all the best dressage (including Totalis ) . In between them was us eventers. It was a great show and really enjoyable.

19. What are you most looking forward to at the Final at the Horse of the Year Show? I am looking forward to being in that environment and rubbing shoulders with other horses and riders that are a the top of their disciplines.

20. Who are you tipping to win the Final at the Horse of the Year Show? That's a hard one. It will be tough to look past Matt Wright with the form that he has shown in the qualifiers, but then there is Ollie Townend who is one of the most competitive and successful riders about. Hopefully I will be in the mix with them.

Check out this video of Sam and Real Dancer Dressage to Music

Interview courtesy Express Eventing UK