Contact: T: 07711 890 420.  E: sammibirch@hotmail.com

ABOUT SAMMI

Sammi has represented Australia at World Equestrian Games, been travelling reserve for the Rio Olympics in 2016, been in the top 10 at Badminton and 4th at Pau CCI****, and been in the winning Nations Cup Team at Aachen 2016. Here, in her own words, is her equestrian background,

 

"My father, Lyndon McLeod, was quite keen on breeding racehorses and eventers at home in Maitland, Australia where I grew up. Those that didn't make the grade were given to me to event. My teenage years and early twenties were spent mostly with quirky thoroughbreds with varying degrees of talent that taught me to sit still and be patient. I also learnt the value of a neckstrap and that if a horse can live out in 40 degree heat then it is much easier to ride!

     One of the best homebreds was Hunter Red who contested Badminton in the mud and rain of 1999. He exceeded all expectations (including mine) to finish 7th and at just 21 I thought it all seemed pretty easy. Then along came Frederick Hunter who most certainly was not easy. Fred was a failed trick pony and one presumes his early humiliation at being made to stand on buckets coupled with his short lived career as a showjumper left him with a few issues. Fred put me on the deck on a daily basis and never grew out of the habit which he found hugely amusing. He was, however, one of the most talented horses I have ridden and after winning Melbourne CCI 3 star we found ourselves at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez as part of the Australian team.

 

A tall and rangy chestnut mare, Enchanted, was the next horse to bring me back to Europe. Possibly the laziest horse I have ridden on the flat and over showjumps, she was an outstanding cross country machine and took me back to 4 star again. Runner up at the British Open in 2004 was some consolation for being reserve for Athens Olympics although I never quite got over the disappointment of sliding down the order on the third day at a three day event.

     Another mare, Black Odyssey, was to be instrumental in my move to the UK in 2005. Although she had talent in spades, having been 2nd at Adelaide 4 star, she much preferred to spend time on her hind legs waving her front legs about to doing a test. She was small and beautiful but her habit of going over backwards at the xc start box was less than endearing and I eventually gave up on trying to make her love the sport as much as I do.

     Now I have another wonderful homebred in the shape of Hunter Valley to compete at advanced. “Gizmo” also shows the McLeod tendency to decant me on a fairly regular basis but he stepped up to three star easily in 2015 under the hugely talented Tom McEwen who campaigned him while I was pregnant. I also have The Court Jester at advanced, owned by Diana Chappell and Kyrle Arscott, who is quite different and far too polite to consider watching me faceplant in the dirt.

     I miss Australia when I am hacking out in the frozen winter countryside but I am grateful for the all round grounding it gave me, not least that many horses are truly happier living out in the paddocks and that you can’t beat a tough Aussie thoroughbred. And the UK has also given me a lovely husband and in 2015 we had our first child, Charlie, who has changed my world. My team would not be what it is without well over a decade of dedication from my best friend and head girl Helen Tagg. Hels and I have sweltered in Sydney amidst the heat and the flies, sat in soggy heaps in the truck on rainy days, nearly frozen to death in various unheated tackrooms and sworn black and blue that we will never import another homebred again as we watch it gallop off into the distance without either of us attached.

     Everyone has Rio on their minds for 2016 but my personal first goal is to get back out eventing, as a new mum, and enjoy the buzz of galloping cross country on top class horses."