Canada’s Graeme Thom has accepted the position as New Zealand’s High Performance Eventing Manager, effective February 1st. Thom was an integral part of Canada’s Eventing High Performance committee from 2005 to 2014, during which time the team earned four medals at various championships.

“I’m very excited about this new job,” Thom enthused. “It’s an honour to be associated with this caliber of athletes and operation.” New Zealand finished 4th at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and had two riders in the top ten. Thom also confirmed that the legendary Sir Mark Todd will continue to ride for the Kiwis.

Thom will visit New Zealand at least twice a year and will make regular trips to the UK to coincide with major competitions and during team training. He will work with a great support team and will be reunited with a former Canadian team vet Dr. Christiana Ober DVM. The New Zealand team show jumping coach is Luis Alvarez Cervera and the team dressage coach Isobel Wessels. In between formal training sessions with the team coaches, riders continue to work with their individual coaches.

Graeme resigned as chair of Canadian Eventing High Performance in 2014, just two months before the WEG in Normandy, France. Thom prefers not to discuss the exact reasons for his departure, simply noting that he had a “disagreement in principles” with Equestrian Canada.

“Of course it’s disappointing to close the door for now with the Canadian team, because they’ve all been so wonderful,” he noted. “I’ve been flattered to be a resource for so many of the athletes and wish them all the best and hope that all the issues with EC get sorted to the benefit of the horses, athletes, and owners.”

The Canadian eventing community has been vocal in their disappointment over Thom’s departure.

“I cannot begin to say how bitter I am about this,” commented Selena O’Hanlon’s mother Morag O’Hanlon on hearing the news. “The Canadian riders and owners have BEGGED [Equestrian Canada] to take Graeme Thom on as part of our eventing team.”

“I am so happy for Graeme Thom, but not for Canada,” remarked veteran team member Kyle Carter. “I think that is the last of our team personnel that was cherry-picked by other programs.”

Thom worked in the financial industry for 28 years and was primarily a capital markets trader with major institutions. He was introduced to horses by a friend who took him riding when he was 23 years old. He so loved the experience that he enrolled in regular riding lessons the following week. Fast forward a few years, when he bought his second horse from Bruce Davidson and trained with him for 12 years up to the 3* level.

“I had three Advanced horses that were all at the same age and retired them together,” he said of his departure from competition. “I chose not to reload and was busy with other things, so moved away from competing and basically joined the High Performance Committee around the same time at the suggestion of David O’Connor.”

Thom credits then Eventing Team coach David O’Connor for the success the Canadian team enjoyed during his tenure. “I had a great working relationship with David, who was the principle architect of Canada’s success. We were a team of equals making it happen.”

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