Friends reunited as Piggy French bids for Burghley success
- Credit: Peter Nixon
Never in a million years did Norfolk eventer Piggy French expect to be reunited with horse Vanir Kamira at the 2017 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials – not that she's complaining.
The two were together at pre-novice level, but after moving yards and taking time off to give birth, French had thought their paths were set to go in different directions.
But after one phone call earlier this year, the unthinkable became reality for the 37-year-old and she has not looked back since.
That culminated in a place at Burghley this year, the journey only just beginning as they took to the ring for their dressage test on Friday.
The fairytale was to continue too, comfortably in the top half of the standings with a brilliant score of 43.7 – the ideal way to go into Saturday's cross country.
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'I'm delighted, I'm still relatively new with her this year. She's a funny little mare because she can feel different every day,' she said of Vanir Kamira. 'She went in there so settled, she was really calm and tried hard. It's a four-star horse, it was very exciting to be offered a horse to ride at that level so of course I said yes. It's taken a while to get used to her, she's definitely a funny little mare that blows very hot and cold - she's quite high maintenance.
'She really tries, Bramham was my only other big run on her and she was a gutsy little girl. She really tried to get anywhere between the flags and that's what you want from a horse at Burghley.'
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The Burghley experience is far from what French had expected from life having taken a year off the saddle to have a baby – all before boredom reared its ugly head.
But with a chance to get into the top 10 of this particular four-star event for the first time, the weekend is only just beginning.
Next up comes the world-famous cross-country course on Saturday, while Sunday's finale will see her take to the show jumping ring in her bid for glory.
And French believes the intermittent rest has been the best preparation possible for the next stages of her career, delighted to have a renewed love for a sport that has very much become her life.
'Nothing's changed, I haven't ridden any differently and nothing's different at home, it's just how it goes with horses sometimes,' she added.
'You're up and down and you ride the wave, my wave's just been up.
'A big thing this year for me has been enjoying it, which sometimes when you've got a lot of horses or you're not riding well it can be hard mentally.
'My baby break came at a good time and I just wanted to come back and ride for people who wanted me to ride their horses.
'I wanted to enjoy what I love doing, otherwise there's no point doing it.'
The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk.