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  • Samantha Lissington

Ready or not, here we come

The most un-glamorous of beginnings for this blog;

It’s 4.30am, Kiara puked on the floor about an hour ago (from eating too many horse hoof bits from when the farrier was here yesterday!) my brain is too busy and now I can’t sleep, so I thought I might as well be productive!


Our Winter began when we returned home after a wonderful two weeks away in Brisbane. We spent 10 days on the boat with my parents (Dale and Nan), and a further 3 days in Maroochydore with Brayden’s family (Ali and Murray). I devoured a few books, Brayden fished, we swam, ate, had long walks on the beach - Spoilt rotten!

We arrived back in the UK feeling like we’d been away for 5 weeks not two! It was actually a lovely time to come back – normally if we go back to NZ we are away until after New Years (usually juggling Wedding season) but coming back prior to Christmas has meant that we can bring the horses back into work earlier and get cracking on some Winter training!


We also got to enjoy the festive season – the lights at that time of year are so pretty and there really is something wonderful about a cold Christmas. We took the girls to Blenheim palace for the light show and finished it with a fancy dinner to celebrate a great year.

On the 8th of December we hosted an owners function in the shoot-tent which is down amongst the forest on the farm. It was great to see everyone and say thank you for all the support in 2023. Sadly we were all pretty useless at getting any photo evidence sorry! But it was a fantastic evening with wonderful food (thank you Beaney!)


We had a lovely Christmas dinner with about 12 of us (mostly Kiwi) whose close family are all back in NZ – so it was a mix-and-match feast with everyone brining a dish traditional to their family Christmas. I think we didn’t do too badly at all!

I was impatiently waiting for the British Eventing calendar to come out, finally it arrived and we could get planning. You can check out our first draft for the year here. A pretty exciting one lined up beginning with the Sunshine Tour in Spain;

  • We are leaving tomorrow for three weeks of jumping with Sooty, Charlie and Quantas to kick-start our year and get some miles under our belt.

  • Having got his long format qualifiers last year Sooty will only run short formats (likely Kronenberg and Marbach) this year to save his legs and keep him in the best possible shape for Paris.

  • All going well Charlie will head to Luhmuhlen CCI5*L in June, having joined Sooty for some lead up events beforehand.

  • Quantas will step up to advanced level, aiming for Blenheim 8/9yr CCI4*S in September.

  • And the young horses will all be stepping up a level, the 6/7yrs likely aiming for Millstreet as their first FEI qualification opportunity for Le Lion later in the year.

Both the horses and the lorry have been through their annual MOTs;

  • The horses have all had their teeth done

  • Alice has attended a couple of times for physio treatments

  • Jack the farrier has put the wheels on everyone, and we have just put our first sets of stud holes in!

  • We’ve done baseline trot-ups with everyone to get an idea of our starting points for the year.

  • We have a beautiful new Butet saddle fitted to the team thanks to Sederholm.

  • Christiana (big boss vet) has come to do our pre-season Horse Health check on the upper level horses and was very happy with the kids.

  • The lorry has had a re-vamp at Haynes Horseboxes. Tom is fantastic at doing all our internal and external improvements; we have some new shelves, extra hanging hooks, re-waterproofing or air vents, the fist of our sign-writing completed, and a bunch of small fix-it’s that needed to be done going into 2024.

  • Keiran has taken it through it’s mechanical checks, fingers crossed for a smooth journey down South!


Sadly, Fran has miserably failed her MOT – she ruptured her ACL whilst on holiday skiing in December and will be out of action until mid-May. I think she is fairly bored as there was even talk of taking up crocheting! We are on the lookout for an extra pair of hands to cover her time away.

We've been spoilt with visits from friends and family over the festive season - so nice to see some faces that we have not seen in so long and to share our life over here.

Darcy headed back on New Year’s Eve after her stay with us – I am sure she was excited to get back to a warmer climate! Jess joined us from New Zealand on the 1st of January - and has arrived to the sudden promotion of travelling groom for Sunshine Tour! Jess has spent time with us both in New Zealand and the UK previously so we are lucky that she knows the drill!

Katie has just arrived to help Kaitlyn hold the fort while we are away so thankfully, we have about a month before we start panicking about being Fran-less.


Brayden and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary on the 12th of January – how time flies when you are having fun!


Every inch of the lorry has been scrubbed, the horses have been clipped and tidied, we are off to do the mammoth food shop today and we leave tomorrow evening. We will be heading off at about 6.30pm to catch the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. From there we have three days of driving and two overnight stopovers (Tours in France and Burgos in Spain) before arriving at Vejer de la Frontera on Saturday afternoon.


We are taking young rider Ellie Townend and two of her horses along with us – sharing the trips like this means that we can split the fuel and ferry costs which makes it more economical for everyone involved.


I’ve been checking the weather forecast and it looks like we will land in about 19 degrees which is pretty dreamy compared to the -7 we had a couple of weeks ago!

Cheers, Sam


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