or over 40 years, Blyth Tait has been an integral member of the New Zealand Eventing Team. Blyth won two gold medals at the inaugural World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990, and has made many an appearance on the national team. However, since pulling a Michael Jordan and retiring - then unceremoniously 'un-retiring' returning to the sport - he hasn't ridden on the big stage for New Zealand since the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The pressure is on, but when you're a veteran of Blyth's caliber, it's just another week in the saddle.
Photo by Sportfot
When it comes to competition though, he's all business, and his focus is squarely on the success of the team. "We did focus a lot on the team," he says. "Like every nation, our funding depends on performances, and WEG will have a big impact on the future of our sport in New Zealand. To deliver a team victory [at] WEG is important to us."
"I’ve built these horses up from the beginning, and if I can just have a couple of successes at the upper level, I’ll be happy."
Although many would consider Blyth a living legend, he simply - at this point - considers himself a horseman, a sentiment that is refreshing and honest at the international level.
"I think now, I don’t consider myself to be a professional rider - I only have three horses in my stables," he explains, with his characteristic smile and jovial demeanor. "I’ve built these horses up from the beginning, and if I can just have a couple of successes at the upper level, I’ll be happy."
"Right now, I’m taking a couple of years to just enjoy the sport again."
Photo by Sportfot
The chance for that success is strong, with a stacked team, including the likes of Sir Mark Todd, Dan Jocelyn, and power-couple Tim and Jonelle Price. So what will come after WEG for the great Kiwi? Possibly, a second go at retirement - but not before he takes a good, long joy ride.
"I’m talking about retiring again soon. I don’t know if I can cope with the stress. I think the reason I retired last time was that I felt like I was treading water and going round and round in circles, after going for a good number of years," he explains. "Right now, I’m taking a couple of years to just enjoy the sport again."
Feature photo by Andreas Pollak.