By Tom Masters
Andrew Heffernan insists the many strings to his bow are a help not a hindrance ahead of this weekend’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Heffernan combines his own riding with his role as coach of the Netherlands national team, as well as spending time designing courses and helping out with his wife’s equestrian business.
It leaves the Dutch Olympian with little time to spare as he returns to Burghley for the first time since 2014.
But for the 47-year-old, now based in Cheshire, that’s exactly how he likes it.
“The fact that I coach, course design, ride; I think they all complement each other,” said Heffernan.
“My coaching makes me a better course designer, my course designing makes me a better rider – I think the whole thing woks quite well as a bit of a package.
“What I love about my career in eventing, is that I actually have loads of different hats; I ride, I teach, I’m the Dutch coach, I have my course designing elements.
“My wife’s family have a big equestrian establishment, I’m involved with that, I also have a livery yard.
“It keeps it healthy and different all the time, it doesn’t become boring or repetitive.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is back in 2022 for the first time since 2019 after two years away due to Covid-19.
Anticipation is high at the return of a key date in the eventing calendar, but while many traditions will the same, there will be plenty of differences too.
Legendary course designer Captain Mark Phillips has been succeeded by Derek di Grazia, meaning there will be plenty of unknowns for riders taking on the renowned challenge amidst the grandeur of Burghley House.
But Heffernan, a previous tutee of Phillips, admits he will be seeing the course purely from the eyes of a rider across the weekend.
“When I’m in the riding zone, I look at it very much as a rider and if I’m in the designing zone, I very much look at it as a designer,” added Heffernan. “I don’t really combine the two.
Practice makes perfect!
Watch the @BritEquestrian team run through their World Championships test after dressage on Thursday 1 September.
Tickets are available for all days on the gate. #betterthanever #eventing #LRBHT22 pic.twitter.com/WRYO79JDp3
— Land Rover Burghley (@LRBHT_Official) August 26, 2022
“I really enjoy the course designing. It’s something that I’m quite interested in, and something I’d like to do a lot more of.
“Working somewhere like Burghley was really interesting and Mark is a genius course designer.
“I got to know the park quite well from that side, rather than just as a rider, which was fun.
“It’s exciting, with a little bit of anticipation because it’s a new course designer and under new management.
“Not only has it not been around for a few years, but it probably will be quite a different feel to what everybody’s used to.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for over 50 years it attracts 80 of the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit