Equestrian sisters off to Brazil

Brazil bound . . . Emma (15, left) and Samantha Gillies (17) have headed to Brazil to compete in the Sao Paulo CSI World Indoor Championships for show jumping. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Samantha and Emma Gillies have never backed down from a challenge.

The showjumping sisters are embarking on their biggest yet, competing internationally at the Sao Paulo CSI World Indoor Championships, in Brazil. Samantha (17) and Emma (15) left New Zealand on Tuesday, with their parents and younger brother, Ben (13), in tow.

While the sisters were used to competing on the national stage — Samantha was named National Young Rider of the Year for 2022 — it would be their first taste on the international stage.

It will also be the first time the two have competed on borrowed horses, as they can not take their own overseas. While they had ridden other people’s horses before, they had never competed on them, Emma said.

‘‘You never really know what horse you’re going to get,’’ Emma said.

They will have two days before their first event to familiarise themselves with their new horses, riding them and understanding their rhythm.

The championships, which run from August 24 to 26 and August 28, were an exciting opportunity for the pair.

During the first competition, Samantha and Emma will compete in the 1.10m class and in the 1.20m class at the second competition — both achievable heights considering they compete regularly at 1.30m.

Samantha said she was looking forward to competing against different people and seeing what riding in an international competition brought.

‘‘Just the surroundings and the atmosphere of it all,’’ Samantha said.

‘‘It’s just a good opportunity.’’

New Zealand showjumper Lucy Olphert contacted Samantha and Emma, asking if they would be interested in heading overseas for the competition.

About seven other riders from New Zealand, of all ages, were also travelling to the competition.