Inspiring a generation

Inspire a generation is the theme of the London 2012 Olympics and there couldn’t be a more inspirational person than Mary King.

Horse sports are often thought of as being solely for the rich but King does not come from a horsey or wealthy family and has earnt her place at the top of the sport through hard work and dedication.

She went to the King’s School in Ottery St Mary and was inspired to event after attending Badminton Horse Trials on a coach trip with Axe Vale Pony Club. She said: “The horses were gleaming and the riders looked so smart. It was so exciting there. I just wanted to be like them.”

She learned the basics of the sport as a working pupil for then legendary eventer Sheila Wilcox, studied to be a cordon bleu cook, did a chalet season then came home and grafted hard - cleaning campsite toilets and lorry driving amongst other jobs - to buy and compete her first horse. She spent the early part of her career bringing on young horses to sell to buy another. She had the chance to sell her first ‘good one’, Diver’s Rock, but she decided she would ‘rather be famous than rich’ and he went on to be sixth at Boekolo and gave her her first Badminton placing, 7th, in 1985. She went on to get her first sponsorship deal, with Gill Robinson of Carphone, and the following year she won her first three day events at Bramham (King Cuthbert) and Osberton (King Arthur) and the rest, as they say, is history.

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