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.
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.
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.
Eventing fans at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 were treated to one of the thrilling afternoons of sport as four days of compelling competition came down to the very final show jumping fence.
Ultimately, it was Great Britain’s Rosalind Canter, riding Allstar B, who proved to be the star of a spectacular show with her double clear round proving critical in securing her individual gold and giving Great Britain the world title, to go with their 2017 European crown.
Ireland, led by individual silver medallist Padraig McCarthy, broke records all over the place. The country’s team silver was their first team medal at a world championships since the inaugural event in 1966, while McCarthy’s individual success was the nation’s first since John Watson – father of current team member Sam Watson – finished second 40 years ago.
“There were quite a few tears which really isn’t very normal for me. It’s absolutely incredible,” said Canter, who entered the arena with Team GB just 0.20 points ahead of Ireland, after poles down for both Tom McEwen and Piggy French. “In the back of my mind I did know (the team situation) but I was just focused on my horse and my warm-up. You have to try and block that out.”
Canter, who won European team gold with Great Britain in 2017, was quick to praise legendary eventing coach Chris Bartle, emphasising how the 66 year old has made her “less intense” since he joined the team at the end of 2016.
Ireland, who had started the day a significant 8.20 points behind the British, were in rampant form throughout, highlighted by the confident McCarthy on Mr Chunky.
“In a previous life I used to be a show jumper, so it gave me a lot of confidence,”McCarthy said, before confirming medals have long been on his mind. “I have dreamt about it for the last six months, at least. With a horse like this you have to dream big.”
With joy for some came heartache for others. Germany’s Ingrid Klimke seemed destined to add the ultimate sparkle to her glittering career with a first ever individual world championship gold right up until the moment she and mount SAP Hale Bob OLD flicked the last fence and handed the glory to Canter.
“If somebody had told me before I would come here and get individual bronze I would have been very happy,” said the WEG 2014 team gold medallist. “It was very close, last fence, last rail, for sure the first moment I was disappointed but it was the only mistake that we did on the whole weekend.”
Reigning Olympic team champions France took team bronze, although their celebrations were tinged with regret as Lieutenant Colonel Thibaut Vallette and Astier Nicolas, lying fourth and fifth respectively after the cross country, both knocked a pole down to ruin hopes of climbing onto the individual podium.
Team Japan produced a stunning display to finish fourth overall, suggesting that the home nation could be one to watch come the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The selected athletes are (in alphabetical order);
• Tina Cook from West Sussex, with Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson’s Billy The Red
• Piggy French from Northampton, with Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo
• Tom McEwen from Gloucestershire, with Jane Inns, Ali McEwen and his own Toledo de Kerser
• Gemma Tattersall from West Sussex, with The Soul Syndicate and her own Arctic Soul
Eventing Performance Manager, Richard Waygood MBE comments; “This year’s team selection was extremely close, with great strength and depth coming through the nominated list. We head to WEG with a strong squad and I look forward to continuing to work with the selected athletes in the build-up, to ensure we are best prepared for Tryon.”
An excited Natasha Baker has introduced her new ride for 2018.
After 10 months of looking, the Para Equestrian and multi medalist has posted these photos on her instagram account of chestnut Hanoverian mare, 'Diva'.
It was just one year ago that Natasha was understandabley heart broken when she unexpected lost her beloved Cabral aka'JP', the horse she won three gold medals with at Rio Paralympics in 2016, after he fell ill from a bacterial infection.
Natasha has the aim to gain a place with Diva in the team for the World Equestrian Games which take place in the US in September.
US rocker and showjumping parent Bruce Springsteen has donated tickets to his Springsteen on Broadway show to raise funds for US team competing at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina.
The auction of the tickets and other items is part of a US Equestrian Team Foundation benefit event “Triumph in Tryon” on Friday night at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.
Springsteen on Broadway has been sold out since it began its run in October 2017 and will play til June 2018. The package donated by Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa includes a backstage meet-and-greet with “The Boss” and goody bags containing a signed copy of Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, as well as a hoodie, shirt and mug.
It is not the first time Springsteen has added his pulling power to equestrian causes. Before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, sales of his donated concert tickets and packages raised $600,000. He said at the time:
“Patti and I have been involved with the horse world for 20 plus years since Jess started riding when she was five years old. Needless to say retirement is nowhere in sight for me. I literally play for horse feed night after night.”