<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Padiham’s Jessica Dunn sets her sights on the 2020 Olympic dressage

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:52 02 May 2016

Jessica with Princess Fifi at the stables in Altham near Accrington

Jessica with Princess Fifi at the stables in Altham near Accrington

Archant

A young woman based in Padiham is working hard to make the 2020 Olympic dressage team. She spoke to Roger Borrell

Jessica and her horse have a close bond Jessica and her horse have a close bond

It was one of the enduring images of the London Olympics when the dressage competition got underway against the stunning backdrop of the 17th century Queen’s House in Greenwich Park.

For a time, the eyes of the equestrian world focused on that elegant arena and among them will have been Jessica Dunn, a determined young woman who aims to be involved in a similar spectacle but in a very different setting – the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jessica, and her wonderfully-named mare, Princess Fifi, are working hard to emulate the success of the Great Britain team that took a riding hat full of medals in London. The 26-year-old, who lives in Padiham, has made a good start, recently marked out as ‘one to watch’ by Horse & Hounds magazine.

But while the public image of dressage is of immaculately tailored riders and beautifully buffed horses, the day-to-day reality for Jessica is a 6.30am to 9pm slog at the stables. Training hard to achieve the perfect performance is tempered with the need to find funding to keep her dream alive.

Jessica, right, with the gold medal winners at the Youth Olympics Jessica, right, with the gold medal winners at the Youth Olympics

‘This isn’t a poor person’s sport,’ she says, ‘and you don’t get a lot back. In some of the mainstream equestrian competitions you might have a £10,000 first prize but in dressage it could be as little as £40.’

Jessica is lucky to have the backing of Nicola Keenan, co-owner of Princess Fifi and director of east Lancashire based Keenan estate agents. ‘Their support has been amazing. It’s great to have people who believe in your ability.’

She also has support from Crow Wood equestrian centre near Burnley where she will be providing tuition to further bolster her income and her chances of making Tokyo.

Jessica has several horses with Olympic potential but her mainstay is Princess Fifi. They have already had much success, winning at the national championships and picking up team gold in the Youth Olympics festival in Australia along with an individual bronze.

Jessica picking up trophies for dressage Jessica picking up trophies for dressage

‘Her official name is Fyona but I thought that was a bit boring and we wanted something people would remember,’ says Jessica, who spent three years training in Germany. ‘She’s top dog in the yard. She’s perfect, super-easy going, safe to handle and beautiful to look at. She’s the best.

‘We got her in Holland where we had been looking for a horse to buy. We didn’t see anything satisfactory and that gave us a day spare so we went to another stable and we saw 13 horses in the space of three hours.

‘She was the last we saw and she came in with her ears forward and she was the one. I knew it was the Keenan family’s type of horse.’

Jessica has also had considerable support from her parents who did without to help her follow her dream.

‘Mum and dad gave up everything so I could do this and I worked hard, too. I sat my GCSEs and A levels while also doing two jobs. We never had summer holidays – my parents really gave up everything for me. My mum works with horses and she always says I’ve been riding all my life and that’s just about true,’ says Jessica.

‘I got my first pony when I was one. I always jumped at events right up to my 15th birthday but it was around then that I started to become interested in dressage. Stephen Clarke, who is a well-known Olympic judge, saw something in me. He took me under his wing a little and has been very encouraging.’

Why dressage? ‘It is something you get engrossed in. It’s the harmony and the relationship with the horse. It’s probably the precision I enjoy most – I’m a little OCD!

‘I’ve a bit of a history of working with quirky horses, animals that have had a difficult past. I like to use animal psychology more than the conventional training aids.’ There have been plenty of knocks along the way – not least the occasional broken bone and black eye. But you can tell it would take a lot more than the occasional tumble to put Jessica off the sport she loves.

You can contact Jessica Dunn on 07824 903675

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, November 17, 2017

This remarkable garden can whisk you on a horticulture tour of the world. Linda Viney took a trip

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

A fantastic end to 2017 is in store at the annual equestrian event in the centre of Liverpool.

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

John Lenehan heads for Gisburn to walk by the Ribble and sample the delights of the Auction Mart Cafe.

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

This busy community might sometimes feel like the village that time forgot, but it’s full of people who help themselves. Martin Pilkington reports

Read more
Silverdale
Monday, November 6, 2017

Follow our short guide to a festive trip to Lytham this Christmas.

Read more
Christmas
Monday, November 6, 2017

Windermere is dependent on tourism, but when the holidaymakers have left there remains a thriving village community

Read more
Windermere
Monday, November 6, 2017

The 218th Westmorland County Show welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales

Read more
Thursday, November 2, 2017

Is it a helicopter? Is it a plane? It’s neither. Or maybe both. Paul Mackenzie meets a man offering a unique bird’s eye view of the Lake District.

Read more
Lake District

It may only be a small town, but these home grown products are causing a big stir

Read more
Ormskirk
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

While conservation work is important globally, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust is stressing the need to think locally too. Alan Wright discusses the important of wildlife close to home.

Read more
Lancashire Wildlife
Monday, October 23, 2017

There are many reasons why the Forest of Bowland is designated Area of Natural Beauty, we’ve picked our favourite spots that we think you will love too.

Read more
Bowland
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The ‘Rural Oscars’ Are Back

Read more
Monday, October 16, 2017

It may not be the Serengeti but the stunning countryside around Nicky Nook will make a perfect location for eco-holidays. Roger Borrell reports.

Read more
Bowland Scorton
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Volunteers are restoring a lovely Victorian garden just a short stroll from a busy city centre. Linda Viney reports

Read more
Liverpool
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search