For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of riding at Badminton and Burghley and finally in spring 2008 I completed my first Badminton on Patris Filius and in the autumn, Burghley on Fortunesnight (our seventh outing together!). Now I want to go back and do better - 'aim high, gain high'!
Sparky, a Shetland, was my first pony. I remember crying the first time I cantered but Mailin, my older sister, told me that cantering was fun. I believed everything she told me so after that I was determined to make Sparky canter! I can remember my first show on him, it was the local riding club summer show 1989 – I’ve still got my special rosette! After that I was hooked, I knew that all I wanted to do was ride.
By the time I was eight I knew I wanted to be an event rider, but no one believed me, which I found a little frustrating! Both my sisters competed as well and we were all members of the local pony club, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. I am still a member and passed my A test last year! My first one day event was not so good, I can remember it vividly! I was eliminated in the show jumping and cross country. I was so gutted, I had studied my Mary King book (‘Eventing Year: A month by month plan for training a champion’!) for weeks in advance! Onwards and upwards though, Carebear was a pretty good learning curve!
I dreamed about representing GB and I was very fortunate to get to ride a pony called Sapphire Blue, who was just quite simply amazing. After 18 months together we were selected for the Pony team. I went on to represent GB four more times at Junior and Young Rider level including winning team gold at the 2005 Young Rider Europeans in Sweden.
After I had finished school I went to Glasgow University where I studied Physiology and Sports Science – just in case I grew out of the eventing phase! I graduated in 2006 and have since been working with horses full time. I am very fortunate that my parents have a yard with facilities where my horses are based and I have a great support team. I am also helped by a sponsor and I receive some funding through Sport Scotland as a member of SEA (Scottish Equestrian Association) rider development group. And I must mention that the highlight of 2009 was getting married, which I LOVED and wish I could do it all over again. John and I had a wonderful wedding and I am now Mrs Wilmot!
I am lucky enough to train with one of my heroes, Ian Stark, and my ambition would be to emulate his record! Patris Filius is now retired from the highest level but I have been bringing on other horses. The highlight of 2010 was winning a CDI** on Axil who no one else has ever competed and I have self-produced from the age of five. In 2010, I competed in my first ever Advanced with him. One of my other stars for the future, Zebedee, started his first season eventing and was placed 9th in the 6yr old Championships.
Moving onto 2012, my biggest disapointment and happiest moments were probably both at Burghley - the downside was having my only cross country fault of the season but the upside was completing a CCI**** with Axil. Obviously, I know without the help of my support team we never would have made it there! Another highlight and disappointment happened at Bramham. Axil finished 9th, so I was delighted but also disappointed that I didn't ride the show jumping to my best as it cost us several places. He was then placed in all three of his CCI*** starts, each one slighlty better, so I was thrilled. I was also very happy with the progress of Zebedee as he went from Novice to Advanced. I have high hopes for him for the future.
Highlights of 2013 were first, Axil being the only horse to jump double clear at Badminton and Burghley. This was a huge achievement and thanks to my whole team particularly physio' Rachael, farrier Nick and girls at home as Axil had quite a tear in a muscle in his quarters before the season. Zebedee moved up to CIC*** level with a top 10 placing at Blenheim and I've had him since he was a wild 3 year old, so that was pleasing!
I now hope (in 2014) that all will go well for having my first baby and that I'll be at Burghley with Axil 8 weeks afterwards. I am also planning for Zebedee to have a successful CCI*** debut so I can aim for Blair 2015.