Raising an Equestrian

We talk to Youth Olympics Silver medallist Rachel McGregor’s mum Jackie about raising her tough and talented equestrian daughter

At what age did Rachel first start riding and when did she own her first horse?

Rachel started riding at age 5 and at age 7, she got her first pony and we started at Pony Club. She won her first competition that same year and decided show jumping was the discipline she would follow.

Was she good at school?

What were her favourite subjects? Rachel was great at school, she loved it and was a very diligent child. Her favourite subjects were PE, English, art, music and science.

Was Rachel always committed to horse-riding?

Yes. There was never any nagging to train; more likely to be tears if the weather (or a broken ankle!) stopped her plans for competing.

Did she get stuck into the care of the horses or leave you to do it?

I used to do most of the ‘workload’ but she was always there on board, involved in the care of the ponies by the age of 10. She had two ponies and then by age 14, we always had a team of three. At age 15, she was onto horses and by age 16, she was being selected for young rider teams and she managed to secure sponsorship then too.

What’s been the highlight of Rachel’s career so far?

Being selected for the young rider team for Show Jumping to compete at the Youth Olympics held in Australia in January 2009. The team won Gold and Rachel also picked up the individual Silver medal. In February 2009, she had a serious injury and ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee; she strapped it up and three weeks later, won the Young Rider of the Year title at Horse of the Year Show.

Is horseriding a time-consuming hobby?

Yes, it’s a very time-consuming hobby, it’s a lifestyle really. There wasn’t a lot of time for other hobbies when she was younger, although she did play netball and the flute.

At what age did you realise Rachel had real potential to go further?

By 12-years-old, it was apparent she had the drive and dedication, and with me behind her all the way, we were a real team.

Did the whole family have to become involved in the horse events since they took up so much time?

The whole family couldn’t take too much of it - her brother wasn’t too keen. However Charlotte, Rachel’s younger sister, was born when Rachel was 11 and at 6-weeks-old was on ‘the circuit’ with us and has grown up totally involved. She is also a good little rider (she has 3 ponies) and comes to all the shows.

What’s Rachel doing now?

Now at age 21, she lives in Cambridge and is a professional rider producing show jumpers and working with Thoroughbreds breaking and pre-training.

What aspects of her personality do you think helped her become so competitive and successful?

She is quite tough, especially on herself. She is her greatest critic, has steely determination and is a very humble person which makes her very popular amongst her peers – horses are great levelers.

What are the qualities you think are most important to instill in your children?

If you are dedicated, hardworking and want it badly enough, you will succeed.

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