It’s been a crazy few years for eventer Jock Paget and while his WEG plans are not quite as he had hoped, he’s still in a great place.
Late in 2016 he and wife Tegan moved back to New Zealand after six years in the UK. They bought a property in Reporoa where they have done extensive work, and in December welcomed little Billy to their lives. Paget always had Angus Blue pegged for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games but horses being horses, not everything runs to plan.
Late in 2017 the horse got a splint injury and Paget has been carefully rehabbing him. He has recently had the all clear from vet Alec Jorgensen and the horse is now back on track track – albeit a little late for WEG. However, Paget plans to get the horse prepared as a back-up for the team.
“He is a very good horse and I feel comfortable taking him to the worlds if need be,” he said. “I don’t suspect he will be needed for the team but we’ll be ready just in case.”
Paget and Blue’s last start was in June last year when they won the CCI3* at Melbourne, captaining the Kiwi team to victory in the Trans Tasman clash, and where he qualified for WEG.
“We gave him a long time off to let everything settle down. Weighing everything up we figured it was better to give him more time to recover.”
The horse is back in full work. “He feels and looks good and is coping well.”
Paget admits as much as he loves being home, he does miss the action . . . “just a little”. “I showed up at most 4* over the last 6-7 years, probably doing around 20 in the time I was over there, so it does feel a little quiet for me.”
He’s gone from 15 horses to just two and it does mean if something goes wrong, there isn’t another waiting in the stable to be pulled into top place. “For London (Olympic Games) I had five horses qualified, and for Rio I had two on the list. So this is the first time I will miss a championship in eight years.”
As much as he loved his time in England with a fast lifestyle, lots of competition and pressure, he never wanted to be there forever. “Now it is figuring how to blend the two – I still want to be able to go to big events and championships, but it will be on less horses.”
The change is one he doesn’t regret for a minute. “This is the choice I made to come back and step into the coaching space. I am in the rebuilding period and need to get a couple more horses to safeguard for the future. I knew it would take two or three years to get sorted,” says Paget.
“I am loving the coaching role I have and being on the Coaching Accelerator Programme is hugely exciting.”
High Performance Sport New Zealand’s highly-regarded three-year professional development programme CAP aims to help skilled coaches further develop their leadership and coaching styles to ensure they are capable of producing champions on the world stage.
As part of the programme, Paget attends residential courses – something he says is “mind-blowing”. “I am really grateful to be a part of CAP and it was certainly a major draw card for me.”
His learnings have been put to good use on riders he works with as part of his performance development coaching role he has with ESNZ.
“CAP is a life-changing course and I think learning all the information I am has helped my riding too. I wish I had learnt some of it when I was riding in the UK – it is not so much about the technical side of things, but more about mind set, awareness and preparation.”
He credits much of his progress to his coaching mentor, Lyn Gunson from HPSNZ.
“It’s been exciting too to watch the (ESNZ) programme develop too,” he says. “A lot of work has gone into this since Penny (Castle) started it. Everyone is now working together and I can see the standard of our squad riders rising and the quality of both riders and coaching group improving. It is a real credit to the eventing performance pathway programme.
So while WEG 2018 may not include Paget, he already has his 2022 star in his stable. Owners Joe and Alex Giannamore have reunited him with Bing Bong, a Holsteiner who Paget bought in Germany as a three-year-old. The couple had their first New Zealand outing at Kihikihi International Horse Trial in April where they won the dressage in the pre-novice, finishing third in the class. “He will come along quickly enough, so hopefully that will be us for WEG 2022.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ
19th June 2018