One Friday I travelled over to visit an Olympic Athlete. Not every day you get to say that. I had contacted Camilla Kruger a while ago but in between her teaching in South Africa and the delightful grey winter we had taken a while to get it scheduled in. Finally, we got around to it and boy was it worth the wait.

Gorgeous sunshine and balmy temperatures greeted us and it was positively spring like! Camilla (Milly as she likes to be known) was busily buffing up her boots when I arrived. Always a good start as turnout is so important for this kind of things. A dilemma soon followed of what saddle cloth versus which boots. Eventually we decided on her team saddle cloth, representing her country. An excellent choice I thought.

Camilla Kruger and Sam the Man-Ping!

Sam the Man, a 10-year-old bay gelding, is a quiet soul in the stable. Looking slightly bored he was keen to get on with the job and then back to field. Faye, his groom, was lovingly brushing out his tail and getting him in tip top condition. Once tacked up he was a different horse, looking fantastic, gleaming and well-muscled. He has a huge walk and marched off to the school. Rufus and Flicker the terrier team followed in hot pursuit.

Milly walks Sam for a good 10 minutes, ensuring his is nicely warmed up prior to his session. We set up a couple of jumps in the best light, trying to avoid the shadows from the glorious sun. Walking and trotting around its clear to see why Sam is good at his job. Lovely balanced paces and very athletic. Then the jumps went up. The ‘warm up’ was probably the biggest jump I’ve ever jumped! Sam had a little spook at it as if to say ‘Really?’

Once they went higher and higher he was a machine. Pinging over a big oxer and then expertly popping an arrow head. He has minimal fear and pretty much jumped me very nearly. Ears always pricked you can see he loves his work. Milly obviously adores him and lots of fusses and cuddle were had. Once she felt he’d done enough we called it a day and wondered back to yard. He stands so quietly whilst being untacked and then happily skipped off to the field with Faye. Once he was out it was food time, like all horses he adores being out. Whilst he is a fantastic athlete first and foremost he is a horse, and so nice to see him treated as such.

Camilla Kruger Camilla Kruger Camilla Kruger Camilla Kruger Camilla Kruger

Camilla Kruger-the future plans

Once Sam had done his bit I chatted to Milly about the horses she has and the plans for the future. Tokyo is obviously up there and that means qualifying for it. She has a couple of ex-racehorses which she hopes to affiliate this year. Retraining racehorses is something Milly is very passionate about and she has also competed them when time allows. Difficult when you spend a lot of time on the continent in search of international events. She is also a keen artist, when time allows and is also fascinated with the biomechanics of horses. Who knows maybe there will be a painting of Sam very soon. On the artistic note she also paired up with Slingshot to create this rather cool video-worth a watch.