Chris Burton (Eventing)

Chris Burton needs little or no introduction to equestrian fans. He is undoubtedly one of our country’s best riders and athletes of modern times, representing Australia at the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games, the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where he won a Bronze medal with the team on his striking young horse Santano II.

In 2016, Chris also won the prestigious Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on Nobilis 18. In taking this title he became the first Australian rider to win Burghley for more than a decade, while also ticking the important personal box of scoring his first four-star win on British soil.

And who can forget the 2013 Australian International 3 Day Event when Chris got a last minute call to compete in the CCI4* competition on catch-ride TS Jamaimo? The pair ended up winning, which was an extraordinary achievement seeing as the duo only had days to form a partnership leading into the event.

For Chris, his love of horses all started about 45-minutes’ drive north-west of Toowoomba on a Darling Downs grain farm that his proud parents Ken and Ruth Burton call home. Like so many Australian country kids, Chris and his brother Karl grew up with animals. Ponies and horses were an essential element of their childhood; barrel racing, campdrafting, jumping, riding bareback and mustering cattle were all part of their daily life. Young Chris soon developed a passion for jumping and with the thoroughbred Deo Juvante, he had the right horse to take him from young rider level right through to top-level eventing.

Chris moved to NSW and spent time as a working student with eventing rider Kevin McNab. His talent soon caught the eye of the Australian High Performance team who selected him for the squad. Over the following years he would continue to train with some of the sport’s greats such as Prue and Craig Barrett, Heath Ryan, Wayne Roycroft, Marianne Lichtwark and George Sanna, and notch up wins at most major Australian competitions.

Burto, as the ultra-cool 36-year-old is often referred to, is regarded as one of the most stylish looking event riders, so it is no surprise that he is quite fussy about rider position in his clinics. After all, the legendary George Morris uses Burton as a model example of the rider’s seat over a jump. Jumping his horses often and regularly plays a big part in his preparation at home. Chris says, “I feel it’s a bigger aspect of our sport, it’s 60 per cent of it.”

As an instructor, Chris is known to be very hands-on and not shy of getting on a horse to give the student a visual if they are struggling with an exercise. He is generous with his advice and determined to bring out the best in every student.

Chris is looking forward to sharing his training approach at EQUITANA Melbourne: “There will be a lot of talk about how I train my horses. I hope I can make the sessions focussed on training the light aids and building harmony between horse and rider.”

Chris moved to England in 2011 in preparation for the London Games and has been based there ever since. He and partner Rebekah Thompson run an eventing stable in Dunsfold, Surrey. Last year the pair welcomed their son Harry into the world, which briefly took the focus slightly away from the sport. But 2018 has begun well for Burton Eventing with wins at Saumur and Belton, and good performances in Kentucky and Wiesbaden.

A rider of Chris’s calibre and talent, who has competed successfully in some of the most prestigious events around the world, is well worth listening to, as I’m sure anyone who will attend his Masterclass and Education Sessions in November will agree.