Rider of the Month: Piggy March
Last autumn, we sat down with Badminton champion Piggy March to find out all about her history with the sport and her goals for the future. Here are our top five takeaways:
1. While her nickname might be Georgina, her nickname was given to her by her sister as a child
“After my sister declared I looked like Piglet as a baby, the name stuck. I was adamant at school that Piggy was my name – it was who I was. Mum initially ordered name tags with Georgina on them but I wasn’t having any of that so they had to be changed. It’s such a silly name but I was clearly comfortable with it.”
2. She wasn’t always the talented equestrian she is today
“Growing up, my sister and I were lucky to have a pony each but I was never any good. We were very much involved in Pony Club and we’d fly around the place on our ponies with our mates. We never did anything serious like horse trials, it was just great fun.”
3. The first horse she got to a 5* with was a horse she was looking after for a friend
“When I was 17, a friend went to university and asked me to keep her horse, Flintlock, ticking over while she was away. Together we gave novices a go and that went well. Then we tried intermediate and we just kept on moving up. He was my first horse to get to 5* and we did Burghley twice and Badminton once – he was unbelievable. None of us had thought he had it in him, but he was a very sweet Irish. Not fancy, not a mover or even a jumper, but I was hungry and when I gave him a kick, off he went.”
4. She narrowly missed out on competing in the London Olympics in 2012
“While the highs of the sport are really extraordinary, the lows can be incredibly hard to deal with. When I missed out on the London Olympics in 2012 because my horse, DHI Topper W was injured, I was completely heartbroken. It still hurts now. I think back to that time and I feel like I have knives in my belly. A home Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the disappointment of missing out on such an incredible event will never fade.
“It took a really long time to recover from that. Immediately afterwards I put pressure on myself to prove that I was good enough, but the harder I tried, the more things went wrong. It quickly became a downward spiral and I lost sponsors and horses, and all I could hear was negativity. There were a lot of black clouds at that time. It can be easy to lose your motivation, but I knew this was my life and my business and I knew I had no option but to keep riding other than giving up, which was never going to happen.”
5. One career goal for Piggy is to mentor young riders and help them navigate the digital world too
“Recently, I’ve been thinking more and more about the reality of the sport versus the highlights we see on social media. It’s important that we share the real-life ups and downs and not just the wins and celebrations. Whatever level you’re at, we all have good days and bad, and we all share the same worries. I really want to be able inspire and reassure riders so that it’s a healthier world for our horses and riders.
“I’d love to mentor young riders. I enjoy helping and I do enjoy sharing the things I’ve learned if I think it can help others and stop them feeling worried. This is why I created Training with Piggy TV and I’ve had great feedback from it and I think it’s healthy for those just starting out to get ideas and try keep the right mindset and remove some of the pressure.”