One of New Zealand's best eventing riders has returned home with the aim of enhancing his coaching career, while still riding at the top.

Jock Paget isn't turning his back on a riding career which has won him high regard during his time based in England.

Paget and wife, Tegan, are living in Taupo, he's working at the equestrian centre in the town and is performance development coach with Equestrian Sport New Zealand.

"It's developed into what's becoming a world class facility. Living next to there made most sense to me," he said.


It sounds like a challenging double whammy and at 33, it might seem young to make such a significant career change. But Paget is sure he's made the right move.

A bronze medallist with the New Zealand team at the London Olympics five years ago, only the second winner on debut at the Badminton trials in 2013 after illustrious compatriot Mark Todd in 1980, Paget sits among the elite riders in the sport.

Now he's putting back into the game at home while still striving for top class riding success. He is also on the High Performance Sport New Zealand coach accelerator programme, which he rates as "a pretty amazing opportunity".

"I've been involved in a coaching programme with ESNZ for the past four years and an opportunity came up to go the next step higher and get good training as a coach and work with talented young riders in New Zealand," Paget said yesterday.

"It's a win on every side - I'm still able to compete and ride myself, I get to get better at coaching and we're back in New Zealand, which is a major bonus for us."

He has a smaller team of horses to work with in New Zealand than he had in England. They are showing promise with one, Angus Blue, particularly impressing Paget.

He is looking at the transtasman event in Melbourne shortly, assuming he is chosen off the long list of riders, and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 is firmly on his radar.

He's planning to be at some six annual four-star pinnacle events, notably Badminton, for which he admits to having a soft spot. Understandable considering his success there.

The world championships are in Tryon, North Carolina next year. That, too, is in his thinking. Representing New Zealand, rather than clocking up another four-star event just for the sake of it, matters more.

There will be fresh challenges for Paget, notably working to keep horses on-song after travelling halfway round the world. They are fickle beasts and things can go askew but Paget hopes savvy management will help.

"You can do everything right and the horse may get to the other side and feel jetlagged.

"What I will try and do is not be there too long. Fly in 10 days before a major event and get going before everything becomes too much."

Paget is aware he'll need to keep his standards up if he's to keep footing it with the best. "That is going to be the hard part, the discipline in that, upholding the standard. It's important I go back there enough to keep my eye in and understand what we need to do competing against these guys overseas. There's no reason why it can't be done."

Paget, based in England since 2011, has been part of a stellar period for New Zealand eventing, spearheaded by the likes of double Olympic individual champion Todd, world No1 Andrew Nicholson, Blyth Tait, Jonelle and Tim Price and Clarke Johnstone - the best-performed rider at last year's Rio Olympics who prefers to live in New Zealand and commute rather than live in England.

"It's really good to come back and see the leap that's been done. I am impressed with how many riders we have on the cusp, getting ready to go and do major competitions. There's more depth than I thought."

Having a rider with Paget's pedigree can only help that. He's chuffed to be back. And what's more when he speaks the up-and-comers will listen.