Hollie Swain makes Burghley bow a decade after pivotal Paget call

·3-min read
Surrey-based Swain, 33, will ride Solo at the Burghley Horse Trials.

By Tom Masters

Hollie Swain now prepares for her first trip to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials having relocated from New Zealand a decade ago.

Swain, 33, grew up in Gore on the South Island and stems from a family heralded as one of the best in the training business from the region.

But in 2012 when the call came from one of the sport’s biggest names in Jock Paget, Swain made the long flight to the UK.

And 10 years since starting work on Paget’s yard, the Surrey-based rider’s remarkable rise continues as she makes her Burghley debut.

She said: “We've been joking around the yard and saying that I think I'll really enjoy it when we're leaving on Sunday!

“But obviously, I remember coming over and working for Jock Paget and I think Burghley was the first 5* that I went to watch.

“I just thought, oh my god, this would definitely be the one on the list to do.

“So now it's becoming a bit of a reality now, and after having a good run at Le Moulin, we had a chat with the owners and thought, we might as well look at the next one which we hope will suit the horse (Solo), which was Burghley.”

And now she is making the trip up to the iconic Lincolnshire turf, reality is starting to set in of the sheer enormity of competing at Burghley.

“It is a dream come true really,” she said.

“To be able to come from a little place like that and when I first came over and saw Burghley, I just thought it would be amazing to get a horse there at some point.

“That was always the one in the back of my mind, and it was definitely the one I wanted to do.

“I've had lots of support and encouragement from back home – they always follow on fondly with a lot of support which is great.

“We're such a small community down there and hopefully it just allows others to know that it’s possible – it’s just really, really exciting.”

Reaching Burghley with the horse she calls Freddie was not always on the cards though – as Swain recalls the time when she feared he was destined for a different path.

“I’ve been I think once or twice and obviously that’s from working with Jock, who had some great success there.

“So I would love it if I can follow in his footsteps, but I’m just thrilled he’s even going to Burghley to be honest.

“You could say we had a bit of a rollercoaster ride with Freddie and John and Jan (Bodenham – the owners) have been extremely supportive with all my decisions which has been so helpful.

“There was a time where we thought maybe Freddie just doesn't want to be an event horse and maybe he'd rather be a dressage horse.

“But I had a strong belief that he could definitely be up to the challenge, and it was great that they backed my decision and stuck with me.

“Three years on and they've got a horse going to go into Burghley, which is amazing!”

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for over 50 years it attracts 80 of the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk