They had hoped that the insight and perspective they say parenthood has provided would give Eventing Team GBR's Tina Cook and Piggy French the edge over the field at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron last week - and so it proved to be becoming Team Gold Medalists.

Cook, 48, is one of the longest standing and most successful athletes in Britain, with 16 championship medals since her first appearance in 1987.

The 2012 Olympic silver medalist, who is a single mother of two children, Isabelle, 13, and Harry, 11, says there is crossover between her parenting and her horsemanship.

“You have to be sympathetic but black and white and you can't bully them," she told Reuters of her approach to her horses.

"They need to understand the difference between wrong and right. For each individual, there might be a different way of approaching that. It is the same for bringing up children."

Although there is a crossover in philosophy, she says compartmentalising her roles is the key to success.

"When I am competing in a dangerous sport I don't want to be thinking 'I hope the kids are ok'. When I am at home, I put my children first," she said.

Cook’s second pregnancy was physically and emotionally challenging after carrying twins full term before losing one.

Yet returning to her career gave a focus to Tina, who competed on Billy the Red at the WEG.

“When you do a sport professionally and deal with animals, it makes you resilient. I am a softy as much as anyone but I can focus and look forwards when I need to.”
 

LOST SELF-BELIEF

French's dream of a medal in the 2012 Olympics was foiled by injuries to her best horses.

“It was heartbreak for me,” the 38-year-old said. When another horse was injured weeks before the European Championships in 2013, French was ready to give up, saying she had lost her self-belief.

Piggy French pictured riding Vanir Kamira. Burghley 2018
 

It was finding new love in partner Tom March and the birth of their son Max, which helped restore her passion for eventing.

“Tom was my rock through hard times then having a baby was the best thing that happened," she said. "I had hit rock bottom but since being a mother, I think 'what will be will be'.

"When I was young, I was hell-bent on that final result, you spend your life dreaming and then working towards that dream. I had stopped enjoying it but I have come back to it with a different head on.

"It has brought results because I am more relaxed."

Piggy's new-found and more relaxed approach saw her standing on the podium last Sunday when she competed on Quarrycrest Echo. She had, however, said that if things did not pan out, she would now better able to deal with disappointment.

“Tom and Max are my world. We have our little bubble and we are very happy in it," she said. "We just bundle along and do our thing and if some horses take us places then that is amazing.

"If not, then we are all quite happy to keep doing what we do at home and enjoying life.”
 
Source: Reuters
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In week that has seen two mum’s, both with very young children, win two of the most coveted prizes in the sport of Eventing, record crowds gathered at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials where Britain’s Piggy French and her horse Quarrycrest Echo headed up the all-female Event Rider Masters podium in the first leg of the 2018 Series.

Event Rider Masters  2018 Leg 1 WINNER Piggy French

Setting a personal best in the dressage, delivering a clear show jumping round this morning and becoming only the sixth personout of 1460 in the history of Chatsworth CIC3* to make the time across the country, Piggy French landed her first CIC3* win since 2014. Speaking after her win Piggy said

“I was sitting in the truck waiting for my turn and I said to myself “Come on, do something useful!”
Their finishing score of 27.3 is the second-best finishing score in this class at the venue.

Mother of one Sarah Ennis (IRE) gave Horseware Stellor Rebound one of the speediest rides of the day landing them the runner up spot on the Podium. Naming Chatsworth as one of the favourite events, Sarah became Ireland's first rider to achieve a podium finish in the ERM. Speed Queen and fellow mum Izzy Taylor and her mount Call Me Maggie May added 4.8 time penalties to their post Show Jumping score to claim third spot on the Podium. "She's not the fastest horse in the World but I am delighted with her and so happy for her owners".

Fellow mum and freshly crowned 2018 Badminton CCI 4 star Champion, Jonelle Price, made it 50 CIC3 star completions since 2008 today and maintained her perfect 11/11 (100%) cross country jumping record with FAERIE DIANIMO.

Over-night leaders after the dressage, Laura Collett (GBR) and Mr Bass had an unfortunate 4 faults in the show jumping after they rolled one of the coloured poles. Adding just 6.4 time penalties to her score after the cross country, Collett came a very respectable 4thand bagged herself strong ERM Series points.

Doing it for the boys, crowd favourites William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and “old friend” Bay My Hero put in a stellar performance to land them an ERM top 10 finish, his first since the Masters began. Speaking after his cross county William said, “The Event Rider Masters is the most exciting thing to happen to the Sport of Eventing in my time – and that is saying something.”


 

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