From the top: Viv Butcher, Emily Cammock and Katie Cammock are Canterbury’s three generation riding dynasty.

Three generations of riders in the same family is an impressive effort, but it’s no big deal to the Cammock family of Canterbury.     

Grandma Viv, daughter Emily, and grand-daughter Katie have been riding together since Katie was three, and there was no sign of them slowing down when we caught up with them at the Taupō 3DE a few months back.  Viv concedes she was there as groom this time, as there wasn’t enough space to bring her own horse, with six already on the truck.  

However, there have been a number of events when all three have been competing and raising a few eyebrows around the circuit.   We’re told it has been “a bit challenging” when they’re all using the same saddle in the showjumping and show hunter classes. 

“It’s really cool, we have a special relationship as three riders,” says Emily. 

The threesome travel to the North Island twice most years; Katie went to her first Taupō 3DE when she was just six weeks old.  Since then, there’s only two North Island trips that she and her grandmother haven’t joined Emily on.  

Making her trip to the North Island for the Taupō 3DE last April, Emily and her mount Zealand Blue HSH lead the field from start to finish and won the Fiber Fresh CCI2*-L class. Daughter Katie was one of the youngest riders at the 3DE, and when she said her goal was to get 64% in the dressage, Grandma Viv had told her to lower her expectations.   

“But she actually got 65%!  She was warming up tongue poked in her cheek and she absolutely nailed it,” says Emily.   

Emily, herself, began competing as a youngster while living near Greymouth on the West Coast where she “gave everything a crack” before travelling across the Alps to Christchurch to compete.  She studied horse business management in Geelong, Australia before getting a job working for Kim Severson, a Virginia rider in the American Eventing team.   

She came home from the States when 9/11 happened, and found her parents had sold their property on West Coast moved to Christchurch.   

“Mum had purchased an off-the-track TB and he was really ugly!  But, there was something about him I liked, so I decided to give him a chance … I took that horse to Badminton!  (Southern Ben).” 

Growing up, Emily says her mother didn’t have many opportunities as one of 11 children, but she did manage to have a horse her parents didn’t know about.  Emily says she is grateful Viv has given her the horsey opportunities she, herself, had never been able to experience.   And this is something she is keen to pass on.

“I am happy to support Katie with her equestrian dreams, however I am grateful that Thomas is more interested in rugby and motorbikes as otherwise space on the truck would be at a premium!” laughs Emily. 

“I am obviously lucky that it is a passion my own family share. When South Island riders travel to the North Island to compete, we tend to form an extended family type feel where we all look out for each other, help in any way we can and support one another through the highs and lows of the sport that often transpire when Eventing. So every time we make the trip to the North Island it brings it all together, just that willingness to help each other and have each other’s backs and do whatever we can for each other.” 

“It’s such a nice addition to the sport that you don’t often see and we really value.  It should be nurtured because of the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you.  It would be great if more people could experience it.”  

And that’s probably what keeps this family of extraordinary equestrians together.