From rodeo to Rio, ex-bricklayer rides high

Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:58pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

CHEPSTOW, Wales (Reuters) - There was a time in Jonathan 'Jock' Paget's early equestrian career when staying on a horse for eight seconds was considered good going.

It is a big leap from riding bucking broncos in the rodeo to the refined elegance of the Olympic dressage ring, as is going from laying bricks in the Sydney suburbs to competing in the stately grounds of Badminton and Burghley.

Paget has done all that and more.

Growing up in Pendle Hill, after moving to Australia from New Zealand as a five-year-old, the Kiwi eventer did not start out among the horsey set.

The team bronze medallist at the London 2012 Games, and only the second rider to win the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on his debut in 2013, started riding at 18 and first jumped a fence properly at 20.

When he left school, he took up an apprenticeship as a bricklayer.

"I enjoyed laying bricks but I wasn’t crazy about it." the 32-year-old told Reuters at the New Zealand eventing team's final training camp in south Wales before flying to Rio.

"My father had bought a horse...and he lived about half an hour away. I’d go up there on the weekends to see him and he’d have the horse and start mucking around. So that’s how it started.   Continued...

New Zealand's Jonathan Paget, riding Clifton Promise, clears a fence during the Eventing Jumping equestrian event at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park, July 31, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings