Rider’s Kickstarter campaign to fund World Equestrian Games and Olympics bid

  • An event rider aiming to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well as this year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her dream.

    Finnish rider Pauliina (Polly) Swindell, who works full time as groom and yard manager at Buttons Mead Farm in Lingfield, has written a “bonkers” semi-autobiographical children’s book centred around her top ride Ferro S and characters based on people in Polly’s everyday life.

    Polly told H&H: “It’s all very new to me – normally I just work with horses and ride. The book is for kids but I’m hoping adults who know me or know the characters in the book will enjoy it too.”

    Polly qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics with her own 17.1hh Polish sports horse Ferro S but a riding accident ruled Polly out with two broken vertebrae and a slipped disk.

    “I was out of the saddle for four months, but that’s horses,” she said.

    The pair, who competed at the European Championships last year, completed their first CCI4* at Luhmühlen in June.

    Polly is now looking forward to WEG at Tryon in September, at which she will represent Finland as an individual.

    “The Finnish federation said they would send me to Tryon which I was very pleased about but I was told I needed to find about £10,000 to fund my journey. The federation will pay some of it but riding is quite small in Finland so they didn’t have much money for funding.

    “I thought there’s no way I can go but I had friends that said we can do this – it’s such a great opportunity we’ll find a way to raise the funding.”

    A love of cartoons from childhood helped Polly come up with the idea for her book, which will be printed from the funds raised.

    “The idea started in my head a couple of years ago.  I didn’t have any drawings so my friend Laura Dansone who is an artist drew the pictures and I’ve received help with a website by my friend Ally Millar.

    “I needed to find funding but I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me – I wanted people to feel like they’re getting something back,” said Polly.

    The Kickstarter campaign allows people to pledge funds on “an all or nothing” basis meaning if the target isn’t raised, funds don’t leave the pledgers’ accounts. Donors can donate on a tiered structure with different pledges receiving different returns such as merchandise or their name in the “people who made this possible” page of the book.

    “The Kickstarter is going really well – we’ve raised nearly £5,000 and need to find another £10,000,” said Polly. “Once we reach the target the book will be printed. The book is raising money towards going to Tryon in September first but hopefully we’ll raise enough money that I can save money towards Tokyo.

    “I’m quite excited and hope people feel the same way. I want to thank everybody who has pledged so far because people have been really positive. Hopefully we can get there.”

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