King reveals secret to her latest Burghley Horse Trials campaign

·3-min read
Kitty King riding High Havoc at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trails, 31 August 2011

By James Reid

Yoga and Pilates are the secret for Olympian Kitty King as she looks to make it third time lucky at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

The 40-year-old equestrian has had a storied career in the saddle, including representing Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio but has never been able to master Burghley and its famed cross-country course.

King was unseated on debut in 2009 when riding Boondoggle, an incident that caused her to take to the wellness mat, something she continues to this day.

“I’ve got a lot stronger and learned from that mistake,” said King.

“I revisited my cross-country position and did quite a lot of work on my core and stability – lots of Pilates and personal training.

“Rider fitness is extremely important, core strength and stability; it’s really helpful particularly when you’re put in a tricky situation cross-country.

“You need to be strong and able to help the horse out as much as you can.”

Eventing is in the blood for King, whose family were already involved in the equestrian world.

Following in those footsteps was always what King wanted to do.

“My mum used to ride,” added King. She used to event before she had myself and my siblings and then she ran a pre-training yard for race horses.

“I grew up amongst horses, they were always around and I was very lucky to have that opportunity. I always loved horses and loved working with them.

“It started basically from as long as I can remember, horses have always been there and been part of my life.

“All I ever wanted to do when I was at school was to go out and compete against the top riders in the world and I’m very lucky to be living my childhood dream.”

A career highlight came when King represented Team GB at the Olympics in Rio six years ago.

However, a fifth-placed finish for the team was not how King envisaged her time in Brazil and the 40-year-old is eager to have another crack at a future Games.

“Qualifying for Rio was very special,” she admitted.

“Unfortunately we didn’t quite follow it up at the Olympics and get the result that we had hoped for.

“I’m still striving to get back to another Games to put that right.”

Yet despite the disappointment, King is still adding to her showreel, with May’s seventh place at Badminton a sign of what could be to come at Burghley and beyond on her 13-year-old gelding.

“That was his first 5* completion and he finished seventh,” said King.

“He jumped a brilliant double clear and did a very good dressage test – he was third after the dressage.

“I was then probably a little bit cautious cross-country, a little bit slow so picked up a few time faults as I wanted to make sure he had a positive first experience and wanted him to come out of it well which he did.

“Hopefully we can really build on that and both he and I have come out of Badminton with a lot more confidence and huge trust in one another.

“I’m really looking forward to giving Burghley a good crack and looking forward to seeing what’s been built on that course.

“It’s always huge and really undulating, so really exciting to have a look at it all.”

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