Podcast Episode 31: Briana Burgess | Achieving International Success

In this podcast, we speak with Briana Burgess. Briana is a successful international rider, trainer and coach. We speak with Briana about her journey working in professional stables from a young age, finding La Scala, dealing with highs and lows and the discipline it takes to get to the top level. To keep up with her journey, you can follow Briana on Instagram @briana_burgess.

If you have any suggestions for future podcast content, people you would like Natasha to interview or if you are an equestrian that loves our message and would be interested in being interviewed, contact the team at support@yourridingsuccess.com 

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Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

Natasha (00:01):

So welcome to this Your Riding Success episode with Briana Burgess. Briana is an Australian International Grand Prix Dressage Rider and has achieved the amazing feat of top 10 in the World Young Horse Championships. Briana has been based in Germany for the past 12 years and has trained under some of the world’s best trainers. Briana offers world-class coaching and clinics for dressage riders and specializes in young horses till Grand Prix. She has an impressive resume with too many achievements to mention. So let's get into it and listen to the amazing Briana Burgess story.

Natasha (00:31):

Welcome to the Your Riding Success podcast. My name is Natasha Althoff. I'm a Grand Prix Dressage Rider from Australia, author of three books and a leading online trainer of riders all around the world, wanting to take their riding to the next level. I'm also a shopaholic, mother of two amazing children and obsessed with helping riders to be all they can be. Each week I'm going to bring in new stories of inspiration, ideas, and strategies of how to make real progress in your writing and give you actionable advice on overcoming writing fear and anxiety. So you can take your riding to the next level and be the rider you dream to be. So let's get into today's episode for your time today. Super thrilled to have this

Briana (01:09):

Conversation. Yeah, thank you. I'm delighted to be with you. Excellent. So, for everyone listening, I think we always want to know, how did you get started with horses? Was it you've been with horses all your life, or did you get started later in life and just talk about your early background with horses and what led you to dressage? Yeah, so I started like most people, I guess, most kids and I started off with a pony when I was nine years old and I had one horse and young riders in the dressage and that sort of just developed from there. So I was always super, super keen to get overseas and learn to ride and work and everything like that. So when I finished my final exams in year 12, I, uh, found a job on yard and groom, a working student position in Belgium with Johann Rockx.

Briana (02:06):

Who's now the Dutch team trainer. And I left, uh, immediately after my high school exams. And I went to work as a working student. So that's how it all got started. Wow. And did you always know that, like in year 10 year 11, when people are like, what are you going to be when you grow up or what are you going to do? Was it always, I'm going to be a horse rider and I'm going to go off to Europe to learn and train. Oh definitely, I was super obsessed with that. I have to say, like, my parents would tell you that they tried to steer me into other career options, but, um, I was really just dying to do that and, uh, and learn as much as I could about dressage and riding. And, uh, I could really see that that's where it was all going on. And I wanted to be a part of that. And did you have dreams and goals that you were going to

Natasha (03:00):

Become an Olympian, a gold medalist Olympian? That that is what drives you. :ike for what purpose did you want to become a great dressage rider for it to be a job or for something bigger? Like what was,

Briana (03:11):

Oh, no, I always had this dream since I was a child. I really wanted to go to the Olympic games and whatever that, whatever that meant to me as a, as a young girl, that was what my dream and my goal was and so as you mature and get older, you try to figure out ways you can at least start on the track, uh, to, to riding and learning and becoming better at what you're doing and educate yourself so much and try to invest in yourself as much as you can, uh, in the, in the learning and so on.

Natasha (03:51):

Yeah, yeah. I just so admire you. You've had a dream and frickin getting about getting it done, so thank you. And [inaudible] okay. So let's, let's talk that through you packed your bags and you're in Denmark and what was it in Belgium? Sorry, sorry, sorry. I'm getting all confused with chocolate bites. You were in the bed of chocolate flash.

Briana (04:18):

That's right, exactly.

Natasha (04:21):

Yeah. So what's that like for people who may be considering it, were are you homesick? There's a new climate to get used to there's new there's pressure from this new job.

Briana (04:31):

Oh, I mean, look, to be totally honest, I was completely overwhelmed. Um, when I, uh, I'd never lived away from home before when I was 18 and that experience in itself, uh, arriving in a new country. So at that stage, as you would know, um, the internet wasn't exactly like it is now. So it was really hard to know where you're going and to find people and to get into contact with people. And, um, so I turned up at the airport in Brussels and I knew that Johann, his wife, Penny Rochx said she was meant to meet me, but of course I had no idea what she looked like. She had no idea what I look like. So I turned up there with my little backpack and, um, I found penny and that crowd and, you know, uh, I'd never been really around another speaking language. I'd never lived overseas before. I had never worked in a professional stable before. So all of these things were completely new, but it was such a valuable, um, experience for me in such a good foundation to have looking back and reflecting on it.

Natasha (05:43):

And, but while it was happening, as you said, like it's so confronting, what kept you going? Just that dream of like, I know this is where I need to be. It doesn't really matter how hard it is, how scary it is, it's this. So it doesn't matter. Well, yeah, I think,

Briana (05:58):

You know, once, uh, once I got there, I really realized how much I didn't know about anything. So you just go, wow, this is such a great, uh, opportunity for me to really learn and to be a sponge. And just to put my head down and tail up and really take this by two hands and, uh, get the most out of this, uh, opportunity. Good on you. Yeah. Okay. So, so you were there for how long? Uh, so I was there initially, I think, uh, for eight months. And then I came back to Sydney where I was, uh, to go to university and study, um, teaching at a university. So I did that for a year and then I thought, Hmm, I still, you know, really had the bug stronger than ever. And, uh, so I investigated to take a gap year and to do this again.

Briana (06:53):

So I went back to Johann and Penny Rockx, this place in Belgium, where they were living at that time. And this time I took my horse over my young rider horse with me. And I worked like continued to work there as a working student. And I had a referral to Monica Theodorescu at a school in Germany that I would start there with Penny and go on for six months and then I would go and work for Monica. And, uh, when I got to Germany, that was also another completely different experience. And I thought, this is what I'm going to do. Uh, so I stayed Monica stand for four years as a working student and learning and, uh, grooming for her also. And I moved up to, to riding, um, after about probably I would say after about a year and a half, two years, I was able to ride there on other horses and the university education.

Natasha (07:53):

We're not going back to that. That, that was sorry, I'm doing this. I'm a rider. Yeah. I'm pretty stubborn. I have to say. So I was really set on, on that this was my way in life, and I felt so strongly about that. Especially when you're 20 years old, you have probably, probably more emotions than the average person. So I was quite fixated on that idea that this is definitely my thing in life. Right. Okay. So you were in Germany for four years and then what happened and what was happening, just fighting lots of horses, or were you really planning for an Olympics or anything? Did you know? I still took my young rider horse with me. So I turned up to, to, uh, Monica's place. I still remember it was the 1st of July and it was a very hot summer and I had packed my bags in Holland.

Briana (08:50):

I put, um, my horse on a horse truck. I jumped in the horse truck and I drove with a driver and he dropped me off at the front gate. And I had my horse in my hand and my suitcase in the other one, and I rang the doorbell. And so it started like this. And in Germany, there is a phrase and it says by sweeping, you learn to ride. So that means that you start from the very bottom. So I mucked out about 15 stables every morning and got tacked up all of Monica's horses, so I was assigned to Monica to be her groom. So she rode between nine and 10 horses every day, uh, between, uh, 730 in the morning and, uh, 130. So we were, uh, doing that. And, uh, that's what I really concentrated on was trying to, uh, learn as much as I could from her, because that was such a fantastic opportunity.

Briana (09:46):

And, uh, I was able to travel with her to a European championships and Windsor and to a World Championships in Las Vegas with the German team and really learn horse management. I would really recommend that to anyone who wants to do it like this, that you really learn everything from A to Z doing it like this. Riding is not just about the Riding. It's also got a lot to do with everything that goes on around it with the management of the horses and learning the discipline to work with them every day. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Okay. So you've got that. And where is your young rider horse by the end of the four years? So, uh, I ended up getting her with Monica together to the Grand Prix and I did, uh, uh, show CDIs there was Monica, uh, in young riders I think was at young riders or open.

Briana (10:42):

I can't really remember at this stage. Uh, I think it was open CDI and small tour. So that was a great experience, uh, to be introduced into European shows this way. And I think by the time that she was 17, I retired her. So she ended up going to a beautiful family in South of Germany where she's still being ridden. She's 27 now. And she still goes to shows with a little girl and she's just the sweetest and she's super fit and very sound still. So she has had a great life. Yeah. Nice retirement for her. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So then what was the plan then? What happened after the four years? So after the four years, I, uh, said I would like to move on and go somewhere different, try something different. So I moved to a place called Asana Brook, which was 40 minutes or so North from Monica's stables was, she was based at, and, uh, I turned up at a stable, I had two horses of my own at this stage, young horses and, uh, I didn't speak any German, so I didn't learn much at Monica's probably a little bit, but not a lot.

Briana (11:58):

So I turned up at this stable, a very German stable, and, uh, I picked up horses, lots of three-year-olds to ride from breeders and farmers in the area. So I'd compete on these horses for them. And, uh, then I got a job working at a show jumping stable at a quite a good show jumping stable doing flat work. So I did that for two years and at the end of this this time, I think I was 25. And I said, Oh, what I really need to do. I really need to try to get hold of a good horse. And, uh, so I sold my two horses that I'd trained up to Prix St George at that stage. And, uh, the next next phase was La Scale. Okay. So, and that was because you still had inside of you, this, this girl dream, like it's, it's got to be the Olympics.

Natasha (12:49):

It's gotta be the best. It's gotta be the highest of the highest. So I need the best horse I can get. Well, it wasn't necessarily so much at that stage. I'd matured a little bit more of my thinking. And, uh, I really wanted to give myself the opportunity, uh, to shine a little bit more with what I had learned. Um, and without a good horse, you can be the best rider in the world, but without a good horse underneath you, you're, you're just a rider. So you need to find your match and you need to find a horse that, uh, it's like a marriage. You need to find this match between you. That works really well. And you have a great feeling together. That's what, that's what every rider needs and what every rider looks for. Absolutely. So, um, how, how do you find a horse like that?

Briana (13:36):

How do you go about doing that? Well, it's when I look back on it now, um, I realized just how, uh, luck and opportunity came into play at this time, because, uh, I have always so many people asking me these days, Oh, we just need to find a Grand Prix horse. Can you find a great one? Um, and it is really, really difficult. Um, so, uh, this happened, uh, my mum, actually, I was talking about my plans and I said, well, if I, you know, if I can't really make it here, then I should maybe stop riding or come back to Australia. But she said, no, wait, just first, uh, let me message Lyndal Oatley and see what she has. They've got horses for sale. I think that's what she said. So she messaged Lyndal and Lunda; said, sure, we have three horses. You can come down and try them.

Briana (14:29):

And, um, they didn't live so far away. And I said, yeah, sure. I'll go down and try them. And, um, so we arrived there at Patrick’s stable an outstanding stables. And, uh, they showed me two horses. And, um, I said, no, not really. Not really none. The third one came out and it was this fat old sort of horse. And I said, Oh, that's kind of interesting. That one, he was 15 at that stage. And I rode him. Uh, he was quite unfit. He'd only come in to the stable, like six weeks before from the owner to be sold. And he wasn't in like a super shape just yet. So I had a little ride on him and I said from the first stride in rising trot that I took, I was like, wow, that's it. That's the horse. And, uh, yeah. And I just knew that this was the horse for me.

Briana (15:20):

And I said to Patrick at the time, I said, okay, he's a little, you know, he's a little overweight at the moment little unfit, but I'll let you guys work with him. They had Aarchen coming up at that stage and I said, I'll come back in four weeks and then I'll try him again. And then I came back in four weeks and I said, yeah, definitely. He was in a super shape by then. And, uh, I said, yeah, that's definitely a horse that uh, I think it's going to be a super match together for happiness. Okay. So, so then what happens? I'm just fascinated by this whole story they're not happened. So what happened was that I said to Patrick, I said, I love this horse so much. Um, but if I buy this horse, uh, I really want to train with you. I said, there's no point of me buying a horse like this.

Briana (16:09):

I've never ridden Grand Prix myself. I've trained horses and written to president George, but I don't want to buy a grand Prix horse and take it home because I don't know what I'm doing. What am I, what am I going to press? Because, um, you don't realize how, uh, complex, um, the Grand Prix work is and how much you have to learn in it until you're actually doing it. You're like, Oh, okay. Where you really, really need a consistent training here and a very good trainer. And so I, um, agreed then with Patrick that to leave La Scala there. And I would drive every afternoon after I'd finished my work down to Patrick and we would train every afternoon. So that was Monday to Saturday. And I think three months later, I had my first start in Grand Prix. And, uh, went from there. I think by the third Grand Prix I did was an international show and Holland and, uh, Rosendahl, CDI Rosendal.

Briana (17:10):

And we sort of, um, did quite well there, we had over 70% in the Grand Prix and third place and quite a good field. So that's exactly how it started off and then onto the team and everything like that after that. So it was quite a good, good, uh, good journey to have, I would say like how long was the drive every day you've worked a full shift. Everyone knows how exhausting that is. And then how long was the drive? So I would drive half an hour to work to Austin, a broken, and then I would drive one hour and 10 minutes down to monster and I would drive one hour back to my home. So there was a lot of driving every day. And I think I did that for, I would say almost two years. I did that. Yeah, that's huge. And obviously you're seeing some great results.

Natasha (18:02):

And so the motivation is high and the learning, it seems that you also love the actual journey and you're just like, Ooh, you would have loved having Patrick every day, tell you things and teach you things. Absolutely. And it's invaluable to have such a fantastic coach. Uh, Patrick is an amazing coach and he has an incredible feel for the horses and the riders. And, um, not to mention the amount of experience they have. So I was 26 years old at that stage. And you really need the support group around you and these mentors around you, um, because it's just uncharted territory. Um, but it was for me anyway at that stage. And, um, so that was absolutely a highlight for me. And it was so invaluable. Yeah. Okay. So, um, what year did you get La Scala? Um, 2014, I think 2014. Yes. Yeah. So you were planning on 2016.

Briana (19:07):

Was that your plan for there you go already happened? Like, what was the next big competition? Obviously there's all the internationals, but were you thinking Olympic 16 or where I was saying earlier, I might be a little bit confused on this because I think WEG was, was WEG 2014? Perhaps and calm when it was in France. Okay. So then it was in August, 2013 then because WEG was the following. Okay. Did you, do you remember having a conversation to Patrick going? This is my goal. Well, Patrick was the one that planted the seed. I just said to him, uh, one day, cause I said my biggest dream and it sounds so funny now, but I said to him, my biggest dream is just to ride Grand Prix and um, he's like, Oh, he's like, Oh, well he's like, well, why don't you go? I mean, you can go and do this and you can go and do that and why not?

Briana (20:10):

And we should do all of this stuff. And I was like, Oh, wow. Okay. Um, so it was really great to also have a trainer that really, uh, believed in me at that time and believed in the horse and opened up my eyes to possibilities as well. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So that, that was the plan. And obviously you, you get on track three months later, you you're getting the 70. Um, so, so yeah, where did we get, what, what then happened? So I just continued to compete them with Patrick. So we would drive to the shows. Uh, Patrick would, I think he had Scandic at that stage and he would often ride Scandic and I would be in the other class, uh, with La Scala and, uh, so we went to a variety of shows and then came the qualification rounds for, uh, the WEG, uh, in France. And then we campaigned for the, for the WEG. Yeah.

Natasha (21:11):

And do you want to, do you want to talk about what happened?

Briana (21:15):

Yeah, I will talk about what happened. So, um, we were at the last qualifying event in Deauville and, um, city art, Deauville, and France, and, uh, we trained, uh, that afternoon and training was super, the horse was in a super form. He was really, uh, we just needed to do that show basically. So, um, uh, we took him, uh, we finished wash the horse off. He went back in the box, you know, all the usual things icing and all that kind of stuff. And, uh, the trot up was in the afternoon and we took him out for the trot up and, uh, he was not sound, uh, or was showing signs of unsoundness in the trot up. Um, it wasn't a bad, it was quite minor. So he passed the trot up anyway, but then I made the decision not to compete him because we weren't quite sure if he'd stood on a stone, if you know, and it's just not worth the, um, it's not worth to push the horses.

Briana (22:18):

Um, especially at this stage, uh, if something has gone wrong and we weren't really a hundred percent sure. So we've just made the decision then not to ride or I made the decision not to ride. Hmm, Hmm. Hmm. So that, uh, that followed on and, um, to, um, quite a lengthy process afterwards. And, um, um, they wanted to put La Scala than out of the, of the team. And we appealed that decision because we were able to show that the horse was, uh, able to compete and, um, due to some outside pressures, then I decided to, to pull, pull the start. So, uh, that was WEG 2014.

Natasha (23:08):

And how did you bounce back fine or at the time, um, everyone goes through highs and lows, and I think it's really important on this that people realize, you know, they look at you and they go, Oh, I must be so easy for you. And it always works out. No it doesn't, she's human, we're all human. So how did you get through that time? You would have felt everyone's looking at you and it would have been, as you said, pressure everywhere, your pressure on yourself and then the pressure from everyone else. How did you get through that? Well, I was because I'd worked so many years.

Briana (23:40):

Well, I was because I'd worked so many years in a professional stable by that stage. And I'd worked a lot with Monica and been around, you know, someone that was on the German team. She had more pressure than anybody that I knew on her. And I really used her as a mentor and she handled, she also had lows in her careers or in her career. And I could see how she handled things, how she approached things. And I learned a lot from her and, uh, um, I was em, and I always say this horses get injuries. They are horses. And especially at that top level, and it is what it is. I mean, I was of course disappointed, but things go on life goes on and there will be another time to shine, so to speak. So, um, my main priority was, uh, my horse and, um, and I was also, um, so aware that, uh, my rise up to that point had been very quick and I was just so grateful for all the opportunities that I had, um, that it, it didn't really worry me too much. I have to say. Um, I did everything in my stride at that point.

Natasha (25:03):

And what a great gift is, you said to have to be around professionals. Cause that's, that's an essence was it's taking responsibility and understanding that sometimes shit goes wrong and there's no point getting involved in that. It just, okay, well, as you, as you said, it's over German off that you're moving on next.

Briana (25:22):

Well, you don't have that much choice I guess. You can cry about it and throw the toys out of the pram, but in the end, um, it brings absolutely nothing. So, um, yeah,

Natasha (25:34):

I also don't waste your energy on it.

Briana (25:37):

No, and you know, so many, cause I was quite young. I was 26 or 27 and I had so many top riders come to me with support and encouragement. And I said, you know, I missed out on two Olympics because of, uh, my horse just went unsound. And, and so many people came and I said, Oh, look, this is part of the sport. And I mean, if you cannot roll with the highs and the lows, then you better buy a tennis racket. It's um, it is the nature of the sport and you're not alone. And I think it's easy these days on social media to watch everybody and think everybody's shining and they don't have any, um, difficulties or disappointments, but that's entirely not true. But, um, it's good for everyone to remember that the success you see, um, is one moment and there is so much preparation that goes into getting to that point.

Natasha (26:33):

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So what now, 2014, are you thinking about 2016? Um, is La Scala. Like, like what, how old is he now? Is he yeah.

Briana (26:44):

Yeah. Um, so we did, he came back in of course in 2015 and he did some really, or we did some really great shows in, in that time. And I was able to do world dressage masters, five star, which was fantastic. And, uh, we always said, and I always said the horse will tell us when he's had enough. And um, and he was, I think, 17 or 18 by that 18 by that stage. And he was giving his absolute best the horse. And, um, by the time I always said Rio would be, we'll just wait and see. I was not that convinced. I could already feel it in my stomach that maybe that's going to not be for us. Um, so I made the decision then I think it was, uh, I competed in Belgium and the CDI, I think he was second or third in the Grand Prix. And after that I said, okay, he's done now. And that was in February in 2016. And um, then he also retired then. \

Natasha (27:50):

Wow. Okay. And you were still with Patrick and still doing, um, your work in Germany. Um, and how long did so then, so then what happened? I feel that's all I keep asking what happened next.

Briana (28:04):

So I just, I was running, uh, uh, sales and training stable, um, and I'd moved down to monster. So I could be closer than to, uh, training, uh, that I could go there more easily and commute easily to Patrick's place. And so La Scala, he, uh, retired, but of course then the next, uh, um, things come in the next, uh, horses come in. So I had a call from Michael Klinke, Ingrid Klinke’s brother, and he lives around the corner or lived around the corner and he said, Hey, Briana, I have two horses. Um, do you want to take one of them. Come and ride them, see which one you like, you take one in for training and we can sell it. And so I went to his place and I rode a horse there and that was Sissy, my next Grand Prix horse. So he said, ah, yeah, this mare, she doesn't learn the flying changes. Everybody tried with her, she was elementary, medium level if she got the changes. And I said, yeah, don't worry. I said, I like her. I'm like, I really liked to ride this horse. So just send her over and I'll work with her for a few weeks and we'll see what happens. So Sissy gets the changes up to two tempi’s in six weeks and I said, that's not so bad.

Natasha (29:29):

Maybe I can acknowledge you for that for a second.God, everywhere around Germany to get the changes. It's all right. I do it. Six weeks. That's awesome.

Briana (29:32):

But I really liked that horse and I had a connection with that horse. And in training, you need to take time and be thoughtful and mares are also quite sensitive. So you need to take that into account, um, as well in how you train them and educate them. But, um, so that's sort of how Sissy’ story came about as well. So, uh, then she, uh, I, she stayed with me and I developed her up to Grand Prix level. So she was doing Grand Prix two years later. That's amazing. And did you end up buying her or you would still just riding her? I bought a share, uh, in her initially and, um, last year, uh, in 2019 I bought her out completely. Um, then, uh, later in the year I made the decision to, to sell her. So she got sold to the States last year.

Natasha (30:30):

Yeah. Okay. All right. And, um, so was she planned for WEG in 2018 or was the timing not quite right?

Briana (31:29):

I thought, I thought I would give that a shot, um, because she was very, uh, of course, very green at that stage. I just would spoke with my trainer. I had a different trainer by that stage in France. Alexander [inaudible] is his name. And, uh, he'd helped me with the Piaffe and passage. And besides she had found that quite challenging because she was quite a big, long mare. She didn't find that the easiest thing. So he really helped me, uh, with the finishing touches for this. And I think that was in about November, December, 2017, that we were getting ready for Grand Prix. So she had also to one start nationally and France. I took her second Grand Prix. She ever did was at a CDI and France as well, where she got 66%, I think in her first start.

So I was super proud of her and the next show was another CDI, her third Grand Prix. And she hit the, I think just below 70 in the specialGrand Prix. So I thought, yeah, maybe that could work. So you just go along a little bit like that. The horses tell you if they're up to it or not. In the first season of Grand Prix, you spend a lot of time consolidating the horses that they understand what's going on. That they, they find strength in the Grand Prix. The first season is really educating them through it because they're real babies at that level, still going through the Grand Prix. So you just take your time and see what happens. Right. Okay. So 2019, you've now sold sissy what's what's what's then the plan.

Briana (32:27):

Yeah. So I got to the stage because I'd been in Germany for 12 years and I thought, well, I sold my good horse now and I would like to have a look at a few other, um, professional, uh, opportunities and ideas. And, uh, I decided to with a colleague, that I would go to the States and see what that's like there. Um, into Florida. So I was there two months last year, uh, riding and so on. And, um, that's sort of where I wanted to, uh, end up for a while, but of course, uh, COVID hits and then, uh, everything, uh, turns to shit. Um, yeah. Yeah. So, uh, COVID really then put a spanner in the works as it has for everybody on the planet. And so plans plans changed.

Natasha (33:18):

So, so what are, where, where are you right now and what are the, do you have horses right now and where are?

Briana (33:25):

Well? So I, um, decided to come back, I'll just go back a step. So I came back to Australia last year in may. I moved back from Germany last year and, uh, I started doing, I really love to coach and I love training. So I started with, uh, clinics around Australia. So in Tasmania and Victoria, ACT, places like this, and also in Queensland and I was doing these clinic rounds. And then I thought, yeah, I'll go to the, to the USA. I came back waiting for my visa. And the idea was that while that was all happening, I would just take a few horses from clients and training while I was in Australia before I left to go overseas again. Um, so I'm currently based at, uh, Jemma Heran’s place on the Gold Coast. She has an amazing, um, dressage barn there and it's a super facility and, um, just a beautiful atmosphere. And, um, so that's where I am at the moment with, uh, some clients horses and training that are there either just for training for a few weeks or a few months, or some are there, at the moment with the idea that they will get sold at some point.

Natasha (34:42):

Yeah. Okay. So what are the plans for, do you, do you like to set plans and goals for five years in advance? Or do you just look at 2021? Um, what, how do you like to, to, to work that?

Briana (35:00):

Well, I don't like to make such long-term plans, especially with horses. I find that kind of impossible because there are so many small steps leading up to things you have to be so flexible. Um, things change, um, all the time and you kind of have to roll with the punches and, um, and see what's going on. Yes, of course I would like to aim for a big championship again, but there are many, many steps involved before getting to that point. So short term goals are what I'm always focused on, um, with the horses and, um, and just being flexible because as you can say with COVID, um, uh, uh, pandemic comes into play and then the Olympics has canceled and all of these things, I mean, these things are totally out of our control. Exactly. Yeah. You have a great philosophy, as you said, like, there's this, I worry about the things I can worry about and all these other things, there's no point me investing the energy.

Briana (36:04):

There is no point. And, um, I think it's always nice to have this idea that you could get that you always need to have that idea, but, um, I don't wake up in the morning, uh, thinking about Paris Olympics, for example. Um, I think about the things that are on hand, the horses that I have in for training and other business things that I'm doing at the moment. And, um, there is plenty of plenty of time to plan so far. So short term goals are the best way for me anyway. Yeah, absolutely.


Natasha (36:50):

So you've trained with so many people and met so many people. Um, do you, is it, is it like asking to say, who's your favorite child? If I say, who is, who was the most important influential person you trained and what the biggest lesson was?

Briana (37:05):

Look, I, I have learned so much from everybody that I've trained with and I'm starting off with Johann and Penny at their place in Belgium and, uh, at Monica's place. It was so invaluable to me because I really learned to work so hard and to be super disciplined. And these things are absolutely a foundation with horses. If you don't do that, you're just, yeah, you can kind of forget it. Uh, if you're looking to do it on a big, big scale or, or you have, um, dreams to complete compete internationally or whatever it is, for example, so that was a foundation and that Monica's place. Um, I learned so many lessons and also their system there is really based on the training scale. So I learned how to train horses from breaking them in, uh, right through. So that was fantastic. I always say that Patrick was a huge influence on my riding. I think, um, I learned an incredible amount from him. He's a brilliant trainer and, um, of course the other people that I've trained with after Patrick, um, I trained a little bit, uh, before the world horse championships with heaven, lung handbag and, um, with Alexander Ash, a French trainer and a friend from, for me. And, um, everybody brings something to the table, but first you definitely need to be very sure about the training scale and, uh, and have a system in place. And then after you add to it. So, um, that's, that's really how I feel about that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. I know nothing about cooking, but I believe that's what they say. You have to like learn how to make the recipe first before then you play with the recipe yourself. It's helped that. I wouldn't know anything about that cooking either.

Natasha (38:54):

Okay. So, um, let's talk about, you achieved a top 10 in the world young horse championships. Um, you've obviously ridden young horses a lot. You've obviously taken young horses to the top of the top and you've also bought, made Grand Prix horses. Do you have a preference or do you just think whatever your goals are at the time, whatever it works out to be at the time, or do you like to make it look? I don't mind. My job, um, is taking horses in for training. I mean, they come in at whatever age that they come in, some come in at three, some come in at eight or nine, some might come in at 10 or 11 and you have to, uh, be very adjustable and young horse riding is different from riding older horses. Um, so I don't in saying that I don't have a preference, but I do love working with the young horses because you can really shape and mold them.

Briana (39:54):

You, um, show them the way in life. You build their confidence. They're like sponges at that age. So they learn really exceptionally quickly. And that's very rewarding to work with the dumb horses and just to see how they change, you know, from taking them to their first show where their eyes are like popping out on stalks and then a few shows in, they actually understand what this competition stuff is about and they really start to shine and show themselves off and get self confidence and all of these aspects of, of young horses for me, really interesting. And, uh, I always loved to watch the horses developed muscularly and mentally. And it's fascinating to me to see what dressage training really does for the horses.

Natasha (40:43):

Um, I'd love to talk more about, uh, it seems a very common theme. Um, this barn management, stable management, the discipline, not just in the training itself, as you said in the care, I feel that's something I know for me, I'm Aussie, I’m she'll be right. Just chuck it in the paddock, not as awful as that, but it's very, very loose and, you know, it's very much a she'll be right kind of attitude. And then when I'm around, um, you know, the, the top people it's like the thing is so particular and so precise and so structured. And so I I'm just fascinated by that, but it seems that is the, um, like you can't get around that. If you want to be a top dressage rider in the world, you have to bring that to the care and like that, that amount of discipline, that amount of attention to detail. Just if you can expand on that a bit.

Briana (41:38):

Yeah. So, uh, that's something I really learned. And in, um, in this professional stables where I worked at when I was young ago was, um, that the horses need strict routines. They need, um, to, uh, have the riders really checking them every day, brushing them twice a day, checking every little lump or bump or no lumps and bumps, or if one strand of hair is, I mean, it was that particular and, um, uh, hand walking them and icing them and, um, you know, the boxes and all this kind of stuff. Um, making sure all the tack is fitting. And also when you're writing them being really vigilant, uh, that everything is fitting them correctly. And if something's not working, then don't be afraid to try something else. Um, make sure that the horses as comfortable as possible. Um, and this is all, uh, I personally think it has almost all of it to do with success, because if you do not manage the horses correctly, you do not get the horses to the competition in top shape. They have to be absolutely in the best shape that you can have them in to ask them to compete at their absolute best. And, uh, no detail escapes, uh, escapes us there. And, um, I couldn't imagine for every other sport or profession, it's the same details are so important and, um, something so small can make such a big difference for these horses because they are sensitive animals at the end of the day.

Natasha (43:18):

Mm it's fascinating. Um, I can't remember which cycling team. I think it's the UK cycling team, but forgive me, everybody if I'm wrong, but their coach, I think it was in the nineties, kind of came up with his 1% idea and he said, okay, we're going to, um, carry our pillows to every qualifying event that we go to. Cause then if you, you should sleep 1% better and we're going to, I'm going to take the bike to the bike man and make him make the bike 1% lighter. And I'm going to get your outfits more streamlined so you can have 1% less wind resistance. I clearly don't know much about riding bikes, but it was always one to sent things. And I ended up winning the Olympic medal purely from I said, but one plus cent plus 1% plus 1% adds up to 10%, which adds up to a gold medal.

Briana (44:06):

Absolutely. And when you are such, I mean like these cyclists, for example, when you are such a finely tuned athlete yourself, then you have to look at where you can improve. Um, and for the horses, it's exactly the same. We're always saying, how can we do this better? How can we, um, optimize our performance? Or how can the horse optimize his performance or for the rider when they're competing, what will make me more concentrated? What will, um, you know, it's, it's, uh, it's got a lot to, it comes, you know, it has everything to do with, with the success and the end of, um, of competing or even if you're just training on a daily basis. But I can definitely say that there is, uh, no a top rider in the world that, uh, just, uh, throws his horse in the paddock and leaves it there. Actually, the idea to me is just so ridiculous that I have to laugh because it just does not happen. Like no success comes from, from this kind of management in any sport.

Natasha (45:14):

Absolutely. And do you think it's, um, like I love that question when you were like, you know, the question always is how can this be better? Do you think in Australia, we don't know.

Briana (45:23):

I ask that question enough. Yeah, I would. I would hope, um, to see in Australia that people start to ask this question more, how, how can we be better? How can I make, how can I get this better and really, uh, hunt that information down, you know, and really, um, look at, look at themselves as an athlete and the horse as an athlete and say, how can we as a team and a combination achieve what we would like to achieve? What do we need to do to get to where we would like to be? Um, there's no use looking at your competitors around you and saying, Oh, this one does that. And that one does, does this. And they've got a better horse and whatever that's completely summit. Absolutely not interesting. What dressage is about to me is that, uh, with this training scale, you should be able to train any horse.

Briana (46:17):

Okay. Some horses have more natural quality than the other ones in the end, but if you are a rider and you understand the training scale and you, um, can carry that out in a way with the horses that the horses, uh, understand and learn that in a good, healthy way, then there is no reason to, to look at the other ones and wonder about what they're doing. Yes. We always need to watch our competitors to say, Hey, they're doing a super job. And I really would like to ride my half pass like this, or they manage their horses. Amazing. What are they doing? But folks, I would say, really focus on, on yourself. Don't worry about everybody else. Um, I always say, uh, I have enough of my own problems to think about. I need, I don't need to worry about everybody else.

Natasha (47:09):

Absolutely. It always think, you know, competition as, or what if people are looking at me, it's like, well, I'm not looking at them.

Briana (47:15):

I've got, I've got my own shit to thoughts. We've got our own shit to do. Don't even worry about it. So it does not matter at all. Um, so yeah, I think that would be, uh, for, in Australia, I would like to see this culture really develop here. So what can I do to be better? You know, how can I be behaving more like a professional, um, and really, I would love to see writers here really encouraging each other. And, um, and we're all doing the same sport here because we have a passion and a love for horses and for riding. That's why we do it. Um, so it would be great to really foster that, um, culture here, um, a positive sports culture and dressage in Australia that we're all working towards the same goal.

Natasha (48:08):

Absolutely. And it's, it's, I think it's a Tony Robbins quote, you know, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask. And I think that, you know, I've been doing a lot of these podcasts now and this theme of, you know, it has to be better, can always be better and keep searching for better. I go, that's really unique. I haven't, that's not how I was trained in all my pony club lessons and to know my normal way of going. But I got, I do that in so many other areas of my life where I really want to Excel and be the best, but it's like, we almost all I know for me, I can't speak for everyone, but I was like, Oh, my horse riding is somehow exempt from that or different from that, or more amateur, sorry about that.

Natasha (48:51):

But I think you're absolutely right when we bring to it that professionalism and we go, well, we want to do this the best we can and show everyone's different. And everyone's, I understand not everyone wants to go to the Olympics or where did they fit in if they've got a full time job, but they just want to do it. But as you said, a lot of these 1%, isn't that much time to ice and to do certain things for your horse, it can still be done on someone that's only riding one horse a day when they've got a full time job.

Briana (49:19):

Yeah. And I should reiterate that as well. Not everybody, not every rider wants to go the Olympic games, you know, not everybody wants to go to a competition on the weekend. So I think so for me, it's different. It's, it's my job. Um, but I think for these riders, um, they, uh, can find ways to do it, uh, the best that suits their lifestyle of course, and their obligations. And, um, and that's, that's also important to be flexible there as well.

Natasha (49:51):

Yep. Yep. Love it. Awesome. Okay. Um, do you have any hobbies outside of riding?

Briana (49:56):

Uh, I probably do, but I've never done them because I've always been working. Uh, so I would say when I moved back to Australia last year was the first time that I had some time to actually, um, do things. So weren't only horse orientated. So, um, I like to be in nature and going outside and hiking and, um, and these kinds of things, I guess. Um, but pretty I'm focused on, on the horses. I have to say. I live and breathe that, yeah.

Natasha (50:34):

I love it. Do you have any advice, um, for riders that, uh, wants to take the next step in their riding, they want to think about making it their career or making it, um, you know, the most important thing in their lives. Um, what's your biggest advice?

Briana (50:52):

Well, all I can say, especially for younger riders looking to step up is that, um, go and learn first. Um, it's impossible to be a 21 or 22 years old and, um, uh, trying to, to be a top professional at that age. Um, you know, I always compare it to, you know, you go to university to learn, right? So I think those years when you're young like that and your service septic to learning and being able to change yourself and mold yourself, um, really take the opportunity to go under a rider, go under a professional rider, go overseas, have these experiences because it is so invaluable and it makes you better. You learn so much. And, um, in the end that's an incredibly important, and I want them to know also that the way is not easy. Um, it's really bloody, it's bloody tough. I'm telling you it's really, really hard. And I would just say head down and tail up and just work your little socks off and be humble, be respectful to people around you and you will make the way you will find your own way in it.

Natasha (52:11):

I love it. I love it. And, um, do you have any sponsors that you'd like to mention?

Briana (52:18):

Yeah, I do. I have a great sponsor. My favorite sponsors County Saddles. They've been fantastic. I ride in County every day. They're wonderful. Uh, I work closely with, uh, Mel Waller, uh, here in Queensland. She's amazing. I love her. Um, the other sponsor that has fantastic clothes and I've just got them on board recently, Stride Equestrian, they're got the most amazing breeches and riding clothes, so they're definitely worth a look. If anyone is looking to buy some new, uh, riding clothes there. And, uh, for the horses, I have Calgary Barcelona, which is, uh, products that are specifically designed, uh, for sweating and heat. So they're really amazing products that don't overheat tendons and so on. So they really promote the, the health of the horse.

Natasha (53:10):

Yeah. Excellent. Beautiful. Um, and where can listeners find out more about you if they, are you available for lessons if they would like to organize that?

Briana (53:19):

Yeah, so I'm available for training, of course, with the border closure at the moment. Um, my clinics and things have come to a hold temporarily, but, uh, hopefully when the borders opened up, I will be teaching again and, uh, Hobart, Melbourne and, and, um, the ACT. So they're always welcome to contact me on Facebook if they're interested or on my social media page, um, which is, um, Briana Burgess on Instagram, so they can find me there. Great. And you've also, um, if people have either short-term training horses to be sold or long-term training, they can contact you for that as well. Yeah. Um, it depends what, what people are looking for, but, uh, I take in both, um, owners that would like the horses just to be centered for training, or if they have a horse that they would perhaps like to sell, I would also consider that as well.


Natasha (53:19):

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