Samantha McLeod

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I began riding at six years old and for the first few years, at least, was only concerned with looking pretty and having matching bandages. However living in Lochinvar in the Hunter Valley, NSW, I soon came under the influence of Heath Ryan and eventing became my passion! I was lucky enough to have keen parents who accidentally bred my first superstar 'Hunter Red.'

Hunter Red was one of those very special horses and he took me all the way through juniors in Australia to us being long-listed for the 1998 World Championships. Then when I was just 21 he took me to Badminton in 1999 where we finished seventh. I have spent the rest of my life, thus far, trying to repeat that performance. What an amazing horse and I wish I had him now.

My next serious horse was Frederick Hunter who although once described by some as a death machine was the love of my life for many years. Fred and I won Sydney and Melbourne three stars and he put me on my first team in 2002 at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez where we finished 15th.

In 2004 I was reserve for Athens Olympics with a lovely mare called Enchanted. I came to England for the summer to prepare and loved it so much decided to move here for a couple of years in 2005. Needless to say I am still here and happier than ever.

I have spent the last seven years (still can't believe it has been that long) building up a team of horses and now feel I have the best horses I have ever had. I am based on a lovely farm in the Cotswolds, which is a beautiful part of the English countryside, in a small village called Rendcomb. With 1200 acres of hills to explore I’m pretty lucky to be here. At the moment the yard is bursting at the seams with some 25 horses, 4 staff and a lot of dogs! The boss is really Helen Tagg who worked for me in Australia and this month has been with me for a whopping 13 years. I could not do it without her - she loves the horses like they are her own and keeps all of us in line.

For some reason I have become known over here as a great producer of young horses. I do love the babies and feel a great deal of satisfaction watching them develop and shine and really trying to get into their heads. Therefore I have a lot of babies:  six 5 year olds and one four year old and the oldest horse I compete is ten.

This year I hope to have two horses competing at three star by the end of the season. Kintara will hopefully compete at Blenheim CCI*** and LG Wellington will aim for Boekelo CCI***. Seven year old Shannondale Santiago (being prepared for Rio Olympics!) will compete in the Young Horse World Championships at the CCI** at Le Lion D'angers in October.

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