African equestrian pioneer Brian Burgess has died peacefully in Malawi just shy of his 83rd birthday.
Burgess, who was vice-president of the Malawi Equestrian Federation and President between 2001-2003, died at home with his family on the Zomba Plateau, where he had lived for nearly 40 years.
He took up dressage while working as an officer in the British army and police force in the 1970s, and his passion for the discipline led him to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna (AUT) where he was trained by Hans Riegler (GER) and Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg (AUT).
He moved to Malawi in 1953, and with his wife Jayn Burgess (GBR), daughter Zoe Kayes (MAW), Deborah Murphy (GBR), Katherine Paul (GBR) and Diane Pieterse (RSA) founded the Malawi Equestrian Federation.
He also set up the Plateau Stables, Malawi’s first dressage instruction and residential training centre, with a string of Lipizzaners.
During the 1980s and 1990s, he travelled extensively in neighbouring countries to judge and train riders, and also further afield including to New Zealand.
“My father lived an exceptional life doing what he loved best,” commented his daughter Zoe Kayes, who is President of the Malawi Equestrian Federation.
“He was also a keen musician, which was part of his love for dressage and rhythm.
“Certainly for myself I have not only lost a father but my trainer and my mentor. He was a huge inspiration for us all in the dressage community here in Malawi and will be very sorely missed.”