Kaa­pachino (‘Kaapy’) Am­s­ter­dam 21 (‘Otto’) Cleve­land (‘Freddy’)

I had al­ways wanted to be the best, but I didn’t think that I could do it any more’

NZ Horse & Pony - - Our Month -

Name: Age: 12 Height: 16.3hh Breed­ing: TB by Kaap­stad out of Right Tune. Kaapy once be­longed to Sonya Palmer. Jesse was of­fered him as a catch ride at Puhinui — and they won. “I knew that I had to have him. Mum and Dad helped me.” Since then the pair has learned to­gether, their jour­ney tak­ing them to four-star level for the first time this sea­son. “He’s as brave as a lion and I love him,” says Jesse. “Hav­ing Kappy be­side me kept me go­ing through the dark­est times.” Name: Age: 9 Height: 17hh Breed­ing: by Aco­rado, out of Allez Pe­tite. The at­trac­tive grey is be­ing aimed at the Blenheim CCI3* and Jesse be­lieves that he is his best hope of ob­tain­ing a ticket to the Rio Olympics. Jesse bought Otto in Ger­many and he is owned by New Zealand cou­ple Gary and Linda Hard­ing. “He was the last horse I saw on a buy­ing trip. The agent said, ‘I think this one will suit you’, and he did.” Name: Age: 8 Height: 17hh Breed­ing: by Wa­ter­mill Swatch out of Rielone. Bred in Hol­land by a US TB stal­lion. Rec­om­mended to Jesse by Bri­tish event rider Rod­ney Pow­ell. “Freddy was in a dealer’s yard and I went and tried him. At that point I was told that he had been sold, but I hunted him down and bought him off the lady who had just pur­chased him,” ex­plains Jesse. “He’s amaz­ing.”

Jesse grew up in Cam­bridge, in the cen­tre of the horsey mecca of the Waikato which was also home to Mark Todd, An­drew Ni­chol­son, Vaughn Jef­feris and Clarke John­stone. He as­pired to be like Mark and Vaughn.

That am­bi­tion con­tin­ued all the way through his years at St Peter’s Cam­bridge, a pri­vate school which awarded him a Gen­eral Ex­cel­lence Schol­ar­ship, and it stayed with him as he stud­ied at the Univer­sity of Waikato, un­til he dropped out of his sports science and mar­ket­ing course to (of course) fol­low his dream.

“I’m more prac­ti­cal than aca­demic. If I had my time again I would have cho­sen a more prac­ti­cal course. My girl­friend, though, is al­ways on at me to get another skill.”

The year that changed Jesse’s life was 2009. He spent a few months in the UK train­ing with Mark Todd. On his days off he would watch An­drew Ni­chol­son ride. Jesse re­turned to New Zealand to build up a team of horses safe in the knowl­edge that a flight back to the UK was as cer­tain as night fol­low­ing day. Apart from the event­ing scene he liked “how Eng­land is a hap­pen­ing place. I don’t think I’ll ever move back to New Zealand, although I may re­tire there.”

In 2010 an email pinged into his in­box. It was from An­drew Ni­chol­son of­fer­ing him a job.

“Caro­line Pow­ell once told me that you should never let an op­por­tu­nity pass you by and this was a pretty amaz­ing one. In a month or two I had packed up. I knew that I wouldn’t be asked twice.”

He stayed at An­drew’s Marl­bor­ough yard for nearly two years, gain­ing some ini­tially im­pres­sive re­sults, such as win­ning the Tat­ter­salls CCI2* with Kaa­pachino. But soon the red rosettes all but dried up.

“I learned a lot of life’s lessons while I was with An­drew. If I could stick at it then, I knew that I re­ally wanted to be an event rider,” says Jesse, who has re­cently been re-named on the High Per­for­mance Ac­cel­er­a­tor Squad.

When he packed up and headed for Maizey Manor, he didn’t even own a dandy brush. He rented just three boxes for his three horses.

What a dif­fer­ence three years makes. To­day, as he lives on site in a flat, all of the boxes in one barn are filled with Jesse’s horses.

3He loves vis­it­ing Lon­don art gal­leries, and is a big fan of mod­ern art, pri­mar­ily the Amer­i­can Rus­sian artist Mark Rothko, as well as Wass­ily Kandin­sky, but he also likes Turner’s seascapes and Al­fred Munnings’s eques­trian mas­ter­pieces. Other hob­bies in­clude play­ing golf (with Tim Price) and read­ing. He is cur­rently work­ing his way through Bill Brow­der’s po­lit­i­cal thriller

Left: catch­ing up with some of­fice work and above with girl­friend Goose (Lucy) Leigh

Jesse with Am­s­ter­dam 21, who per­formed well to fin­ish in 13th place in the CIC3* at Luh­mühlen, and who may be his ticket to Rio

He dressed up as Napoleon Dy­na­mite, from the movie of the same name, for James Todd’s 21st.

He once dyed his hair to match Kaa­pachino’s tail, think­ing it would earn him bet­ter marks in the dres­sage. It was an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter. He bought a black French Bull­dog called Berry for his girl­friend, Goose, but he liked the dog so much that he kept

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