Not only was London 2012 the most successful ever Olympics for team GB, but it also busted a number of myths about the UK and its sport.
Contrary to popular belief it turns out that Londoners are a friendly bunch; its public transport is pretty reliable; and equestrians aren’t all posh and loaded. Fact.
Along with the incredible haul of medals won (three gold, one silver and one bronze in case you didn’t know) GB Olympic riders also proved that riding horses isn’t all about money. It comes down to hard work, dedication and talent, which is something we can all aspire to no matter what our background.
A relative newcomer to the dressage world, Charlotte Dujardin broke two Olympic records to take dressage individual and team gold. Educated at her local comp in Bedfordshire, her lucky break came when her mum asked Carl Hester if he’d give Charlotte a lesson. He ended up taking her on as a working pupil, and the rest is now Olympic history.
Even Carl, who now rides and trains a string of expensive horses from his immaculate yard in Gloucestershire, came from humble beginnings. The three-time Olympian’s first equine was a donkey that he used to ride to the village shop on the Channel Isle of Sark, where he was brought up. Carl then moved to the mainland aged 19 where he learnt his trade and gained his BHS qualifications riding for other people, before setting up his own yard.
Mary King has been at the top of her game for so long – this year marked her sixth Olympics – that it is easy to forget where she came from. With a non-horsey family that didn't have much cash to splash, Mary's first yard was a couple of converted cow sheds. And to help fund her dream of becoming an eventer, she cleaned, cooked, gardened and delivered meat for the local butcher.
With far less experience, but the same determination, is the showjumper Scott Brash. He went to the local comprehensive in Peebles in Scotland and it was his dad, a builder, who got him into horses as he used to be a jockey.
Commenting on Team GB’s outstanding performances, British Horse Society chairman Lynn Petersen said: “Today all across the UK there are young people who are learning to ride at a BHS Approved Establishment with BHS Registered Instructors. And one day, some of these riders will represent Great Britain at the Olympics. These Games have indeed inspired a generation.”