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Norfolk hopeful Piggy French’s Olympic dream

PUBLISHED: 07:38 06 September 2011

Piggy French and friend back in Norfolk at the Great Witchingham horse trials.; Photo: Bill Smith

Piggy French and friend back in Norfolk at the Great Witchingham horse trials.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

She rode before she walked and from the age of 16 Piggy French decided she was going to have a career in horses.

The International event rider took silver at her Great Britain debut at the European Championship two years ago and silver at Badminton Horse trials this year.

She is part of the UK World Class Squad and will represent Great Britain in the Olympic games next year,

Piggy, 31, said: “I’m very excited about the Olympics I just wish it was this year. My horses have been on excellent form this year. The venue is unbelievable it’s surreal. If you look over your shoulder you see London.

“From the moment I got there it had a feeling about it. To ride for your country on home ground is going to be a phenomenal feeling. You can never get that experience again.

I’m going to leave no stone unturned and work so tirelessly to get the best result. It’s a dream.”

Piggy, whose real name is Georgina, comes from the mid-Norfolk village of North Elmham.

She said: “I first got on a horse before I could walk. My mum is very horsey and competed up to advanced level. My twin sisters who are three and a half years older than me had ponies. It was obvious that it was doing to be something I did in life.”

She left Wymondham College when she was 16 to pursue an equestrian career.

Piggy, who has lived in Market Harborough for the past six years, said: “I was very lucky my family had a set up at home with some stables. We built an arena to work the horses in. As soon as I could drive I drove around Norfolk riding whatever I could and mucking out stables to meet people and try to build up contacts to start my career. I love working with horses but all I ever wanted to do was ride.

“I was an eventing geek and I followed the sport like man. Mary King was my heroine, she inspired me when I was a young rider.”

Piggy had her first taste of success as a teenager when she joined South Norfolk Pony Club.

“I won the club championship in 1998 and I started eventing when I was 15. On my first competition I fell off and refused to stop. It was all that mattered. All I ever wanted to do was compete for my country.”

Piggy already has a few horses in sight for the Olympics. She said: “There are a few that could be in line. It’s impossible to make plans because it can so easily go wrong.

“It can take you ten years to make a horse and ten minutes to injure. Horses injure easier than humans. You can be the best rider in the world and still not get to the championship competition because your horse is injured. The next year I need to be very careful and manage the horses as best as I can to keep them for the Olympics.”

She lists winning the silver medal at the championship in 2009 as one of the highlights of her career so far.

Piggy said: “The Olympics is the chance of a lifetime. It was very important to me for the future that I was a team player and tried to get the best I could out of my horse. It’s a brilliant feeling that the hard work is paying off and it’s going the way I want it to go.”

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