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Support team close to home

Success is a family affair for the Burnett-Grant family, with daughters Hannah and Briar jumping their way to national and international glory as a result.

The Taupo-based sisters live above their home stables with mum Karen and dad Dave, along with 13 equine members of the extended family. All four family members work on the farm, with Karen and Dave recently starting a breeding programme to support their daughters’ ambitions of competing in showjumping at the top level. Dave also built the stables, their home above and the horse walker himself to accommodate the family’s riding obsession.

The family passion for riding started when Hannah joined the local pony club aged 10, with younger sister Briar following suit at age seven. Now aged 21 and 14, the pair have had significant success on both the national and international showjumping stage.

Briar won her first Horse of the Year title at the age of 10 in the Pony 6 Bar Competition – only the second rider to ever win at such an age – clearing a height of 1.60m. She began competing in the Pony Grand Prix Series a year later, winning and placing in nearly all her events.

Briar is the only rider in New Zealand and Australia to have won the FEI Children’s International Qualifier in three consecutive years, 2012, 2013 and 2014. She also competed at the World Championships in 2013, riding against the top 32 riders in the world in the finals in Mexico. As the youngest international rider, she was placed fifth individually overall and was a member of the team that won gold.

At the age of 16, Hannah was the youngest member of a New Zealand adult team who competed in Western Australia and gained the top score for the team. She was also a member of the winning New Zealand team in Category A at the 2010 FEI World Jumping Challenge for riders 15 – 18 years and was placed third individually at the event.

Hannah won the NZ Junior Rider Series in 2010 and was also crowned National Champion the same year.

In the 2013/14 season Briar began competing on horses in the Junior Rider Series and in Open Classes against adults. At the 2014 Horse of the Year, she placed third in the Pony of the Year, third in Junior Rider of the Year and fifth in the Speed Horse of the Year against adults.

Last season Hannah also placed third in the 1.30m Horse of the Year Championship Class.

An essential aspect of the sisters’ success comes down to nutrition and the health of their horses, with the pair long-time users of Fiber Fresh’s high nutritional feeds.

“We read an article in a magazine about Fiber Fresh feed healing and preventing ulcers in horses and decided that was the way to go. We’ve been using FiberProtect for years now, the horses perform well on it and they look great.

“Now we have started a breeding programme, it becomes even more important to get the right nutrients to the mares, as well as growing foals.

“Our horses are also really fussy when it comes to food, but the one thing they will all always eat is FiberProtect.”

Having spent three seasons in Germany riding and working and now training to be a commercial pilot, Hannah’s showjumping goals include winning Lady Rider of the Year and competing at World Cup level.

Briar is currently finishing year nine at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, and has a clear Olympics goal in sight in terms of her riding. Ballet and jazz dancing in her spare time also helps with balance and building a strong core, the essence of a showjumper’s gait.

With support focused firmly on family, the girls are hugely supportive of each other and their success. And with the greatest fan club so close to home, victory is inevitable.