Equestrian champ Jodi Pieters will perform at the Shongweni Festival.
Durban - Equestrian champ Jodi Pieters is on a journey, spurred by a childhood dream - to compete in the Olympic Games.

“It’s still a dream,” said the Drummond-born-and-bred woman.

The Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 will feature three equestrian disciplines: dressage, eventing and jumping.

But sooner than that, Pieters will be on her horse, Kuda’s King of Hearts, at the Shongweni Festival, which runs from August 8 to 12, and will include a World Cup qualifier. Pieters won the World Cup Qualifier at Shongweni Club in 2012.

She will compete on Kuda’s King of Hearts in the 1.50m division, including the Grand Prix, on the Thursday.

She won the South African Show Jumping Championships in 2011 as well as the World Cup Overall series the following year.

Pieters and her horse were raised on the family property in rural Drummond. The 10-year-old gelding is a third her age.

Horses are very much the centre of Pieters’s world.

Equestrian champ Jodi Pieters will perform at the Shongweni Festival.

She comes from a family who are passionate about horses: her father, Willie, and her mom, Sue, were both professional show jumpers. Willie also trained racehorses.

A business science graduate, Pieters makes a living coaching show jumping and running a stable yard as well as selling life and medical insurances for horses.

She said her life centred around raising finance needed to stay competitive in her sport.

Competing internationally was expensive for South Africans because horses must first go into quarantine in Mauritius, Pieters said.

Any ordinary day starts with her training her horse and, fitting in a 4.30am run and then gym, and sometimes a run in the evenings.

That keeps her fit enough for other pursuits she takes part in, such as climbing 5895m Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, entering the Iron Man and competing in the Comrades Marathon.

A more recent adventure involved navigating a vehicle to checkpoints in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the Put Foot Rally which started in Cape Town and saw participants distribute shoes to impoverished schools in Zambia.

Now she’s literally back in saddle.