I am a 17 year old Modern Pentathlete and aspiring event rider, currently combining training and competing with AS exams. My ultimate aim is to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Modern Pentathlon, whilst building up my eventing career. My ultimate dream is to compete successfully at Badminton 4* and two disciplines at Olympic level?? Am I crazy?!
Daily life consists of a morning swim – a 4:50am wake up call to feed the horses under the starlight – before a 2 hour swim session. At school, between lessons I run, go to the gym and shoot. After lessons, Mum races me home to ride, often under the headlights of the car. Horses fed, and it’s an hours drive to Pentathlon squad training, returning at 11pm. Homework, eating, and saying ”Hi” and ”Bye” to family fits in around life on the road. We regularly jump into the car, floor littered with plates and bowls from past ‘mobile’ meals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
‘Nellie’ arrived by default – Mum is an Equine Physio and Nellie was a client’s horse, ultimately given to us to sell. When we discovered her rearing and extreme resistance to loading made her too dangerous, Mum reluctantly agreed to give her a home! By Autumn 2014 I was on the World Class Programme for Modern Pentathlon and taking my GCSE’s. With Nellie putting all this at risk, after querying kissing spines, she was just turned away – for everyone’s safety.
At the beginning of 2015, we tried to bring Nellie into work. Her teeth, saddle, feeding, all reassessed, we went back to basics. Starting with loose schooling, then lunging, but still she would just rear and plant. A horse communicator visited and gave her a new purple aura – you name it we tried it! More time and patience and she started lunging well so Mum suggested I got back on. Trying to fit Nellie’s programme around my training and GCSE’s was no mean feat!
After my GCSE’s, and sadly just missing out on GB team selection for Pentathlon, I was able to focus on my other passion. I qualified my main horse Accolino 2 for four Open Pony Club Championships: Eventing, Show Jumping, Dressage and Tetrathlon, and joined BE. We took Nellie to Bicton as a companion, and entered just to see if she would go down the centre line – remarkably she finished 6th! While casually looking through the programme, I noticed one place higher and we would have qualified for a regional final! My only option now was to come in the top 10% at BE100 Aldon 3DE.
After buying herself a new tent, Mum eventually came round to the idea – sleeping in the trailer like we normally do was not particularly appealing in October. We borrowed Granny’s camping stove and set off for Aldon! Looking at all the luxury lorries and discovering the tent pegs were missing was a minor setback after all we’d been through.
We got off to a great start – I forgot the test! Mum was beyond annoyed and my dreams were slowly slipping away… it wasn’t looking promising for a top 10% finish.
With my first roads and tracks imminent, huge pressure and a new measuring wheel we set off to conquer the mystery of minute markers. We must have been successful as XC day was brilliant, and we went clear with no time faults to move up to 5th.
Reverse order for show jumping piled on the pressure, particularly as I still was not in a qualifying position, but I love the pressure of competition and Nellie jumped her heart out to go clear. A nervous few minutes whilst others jumped saw us move up to 3rd place and we had qualified for Badminton! I felt so proud of our whole journey – we had done it!
We will be following Zoe and Nellie’s preparation for the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup Final whilst boggling at quite how she finds the time and energy to successfully compete in both eventing and Pentathlon. You can also follow her facebook page between blogs.