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 ABOUT 

Piggy?!

What a ridiculous name! I have my elder twin sisters, Anna and Nini, to thank for the name and only myself to blame. They thought I looked like Piglet from Winnie The Pooh when I was born and it stuck.

 

My parents did suggest I start using my real name, Georgina, at school but I was adamant I wanted to keep being called Piggy.

 

Sometimes I think that was a stupid choice but, then again, how many other Piggy's do you know?!

I was born and raised in Norfolk and right from the very start I have always lived and breathed horses. Academic success was non-existent despite the best efforts of my father, Wally. School just wasn't my thing at all.

 

After a failed stint at art college in Cambridge he conceded to letting me follow my dream with horses and so I began my first job mucking out stables at Blackwater Farm, riding anything and everything I could along the way.

My mother, Kate, was instrumental in my early career. A fantastic teacher, she ensured I was always much more afraid of riding badly than I was of any horse or course in front of me!

 

From the beginning, I was obsessed with eventing and Mary King especially. Without fail, I wrote to her twice a year for her birthday and Christmas and it would have been many more if my mother had let me.

 

Passion for what you're doing is everything and I definitely had it for eventing.

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Motivation

I'm competitive so of course I like to win; who doesn't?! However, my main motivation is my love of training my horses; figuring out their characters, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, learning what makes them tick. That's what I enjoy the most, above winning or anything else.

 

Some of the best moments of my career haven't necessarily been about winning but feeling like I have produced the best possible performance from a horse. That is true satisfaction. 

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I first represented Great Britain at the 2001 Young Rider Europeans on Flintlock, a hunter owned by a friend who asked me to compete him whilst she was at University. He also took me to my first 5* at Burghley in 2002 and my first Badminton a year later in 2003. Then came Done To Order, a little dun cob with the heart of a lion.

 

The experience they gave me was invaluable and I realised very early on that our sport isn't about having the most talented horse but the best partnership.

Career

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I started my Senior Championship career in great but unexpected style. A late call up resulted in me winning the Individual Silver medal with Some Day Soon at the Europeans in Fontainebleau in 2009. After further team appearances with Jakata in 2010 (World Equestrian Games, Kentucky) and 2011 (Team Bronze, European Championships, Luhmühlen), my sights were firmly set on selection for my home Olympics - London 2012.

I was riding the crest of a wave in 2011 with Jakata finishing 2nd at Badminton and wins at the London Olympic Test Event and Blenheim for DHI Topper W.

Both were selected for London but that was where my Olympic journey ended with injuries to both horses. It left me heartbroken, in the truest sense of the word, and it's still, to this day, something I have struggled to come to terms with.

 

To miss out on any Olympics would have been tough but you know the opportunity to compete at your home Games is a once in a lifetime thing. And, for me, it wasn't meant to be.

The fire that had always burned so bright inside me went out. I just felt empty inside and it took a long time for me to piece my world back together.

 

A lot of people who had jumped on the Olympic bandwagon walked away which made it harder still but I will always be grateful to those who stood behind me and helped push me back up again.

Rebuilding

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Motherhood

By the time Rio came around in 2016 I was out of the running but for much better reasons. My son Max was born on the 28th July 2016, literally days before the Eventing competition started in Rio.

I missed the whole of the competition season and, whilst I was fairly crazy about the idea to start with, I think it was the best thing I ever did. I didn't miss competing at the start and actually enjoyed watching from the sidelines. But, by the end, the fire in my belly was back and I was mad to get going again.

I ended the 2017 season back on the Team GB Championship Squad for the European Championships in Strzegom with Quarrycrest Echo and rode Vanir Kamira to 2nd place at Burghley - a dream return!

2018 culminated in a Team Gold medal for Team GB at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon and then came the season of my life (so far!) in 2019. A World Record 15 International wins including wins at every level from 2* to 5*. But, of course, most important of all was winning Badminton, the most prestigious event in our sport.

Vanir Kamira is a fantastic horse, not easy, but tough, brave and a fighter. I went crazy after her show jumping round at Badminton, not to wind up the crowd, but because I knew I had achieved the best result possible for her. That was my moment for myself and the emotion poured out of me.

 

After years of screaming to myself, suddenly everyone was screaming with me and for me. And, then, to win the biggest prize in our sport was a complete fairytale.

The road to climb back to the top was a long one, and a tough one at times, but boy was it worth the struggle to get there. Winning Badminton is a moment I will treasure forever and a day.

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Looking Ahead

What next? I have a big Olympic sized hole inside of me which I'd like to fill. Tokyo would be fantastic but so would Paris.

I want to continue being successful at the highest level, I'd love to win more 5*s, I'd love more Championships appearances for Team GB and especially an Olympics, but it isn't the be all and end all.

I take great pride in being both a successful athlete and, at the same time, a mother to my son Max. There's something about parenthood that motivates you to achieve new heights but with an added sense of perspective when life as a professional athlete can become all consuming.

I have my family now and that's the most important thing. I am as hungry as ever but riding a horse isn't my whole world like it was in 2012. And maybe, in the end, that makes me stronger and better prepared for 2021...

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TIMELINE