Zara Tindall: I felt guilty leaving my eldest daughter as a working mother

Mia Tindall Zara Tindall equestrian horse daughter working mother - Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Mia Tindall Zara Tindall equestrian horse daughter working mother - Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Zara Tindall has revealed that she felt guilty about leaving her eldest daughter as a working mother in a candid interview with her husband Mike.

The Olympic equestrian medallist, and the Princess Royal’s daughter, said that she “found it hard” to get back into riding professionally after giving birth to Mia, now aged nine.

In the first interview instalment of Mike Drop, in collaboration with the Magic Millions horse-racing event, Zara told her husband: “Mentally you feel guilty as a mother leaving your child to go and do something else.”

The 44-year-old former England rugby captain quipped that was because she didn’t “trust dad”, but Zara added: “You do feel guilty. I felt guilty all the time, even like going to go and ride, and I just thought ‘That’s just an aspect of my life now’.”

In the wide-ranging interview, below, the King’s niece also opened up about her struggle to “get her body back to where it was” after having Mia in 2014, saying that she was determined to return to riding:

She told Mike: “After having Mia, I was like ‘Right, this is my goal. I need to get back’ and I had a good horse to come back to, which is great for your confidence, so I wanted to get back for him as well.

“Trying to have a goal to get myself back to it is something that I always probably need. I always need goals in my life and set many goals in my life all the time.”

However, the 41-year-old added: “When you’ve been riding for 25 years and then your body is just completely not doing that, and your muscles [are] doing nothing and stretching and creating an amazing thing – it’s just completely different and trying to get your body back to where it was. I found [that] hard work.”

Zara acknowledged that the couple balanced her career and life as new parents, saying that Mia “was along for the ride with us as well” and was “very much taken around to the shows”.

Mike Tindall Zara Tindall Mia Tindall children horse riding equestrian - Geoff Robinson/Shutterstock
Mike Tindall Zara Tindall Mia Tindall children horse riding equestrian - Geoff Robinson/Shutterstock

The Tindalls, who have been married since 2011, also touched on their experience with miscarriage, something that Zara has been open about previously.

Mike said: “Seven-year period with kids, your riding has been on and off. We lost a baby along the way. You’d had to stop riding before that and you’d missed another chunk of time.”

He asked Zara whether she felt she gave riding “everything you wanted to give it” during that period.

She told him: “There’s times I look back on and maybe shouldn’t have gone to certain places. But I think I was lucky, I’d had Toytown and High Kingdom [her horses] and been to an Olympics and gotten a silver medal.

“The stuff that I missed was down to another great chapter in my life and I’m lucky that I got to run them alongside each other.”

Zara added: “I think I’m lucky that in our sport, I could do both and still being able to ride at the top has been a massive drive for me. I hope it has made me a better mother because they can experience it with us and with me.”

Zara Tindall Olympics 2012 equestrian horse riding - Reuters/Eddie Keogh
Zara Tindall Olympics 2012 equestrian horse riding - Reuters/Eddie Keogh

The mother of three won silver at the 2012 Olympics in London, becoming the first Olympic medallist from the Royal family.

Her mother – the only other member of the Royal family to compete in an Olympic Games, in Montreal 1976 – was the one to present the team eventing medals.

Elsewhere in the couple’s 30-minute interview, Zara discussed how her love of riding stemmed from always being around horses in her childhood.

She told Mike: “I remember being around horses when I was young, and ponies, and we were really lucky. My mother and father were riding. It was very much their career at the time, and we would do a lot of stuff at home with them.

“If we weren’t in the house, we were up in the yard looking after them, learning about them.”

Zara said that her “driving force” now is to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport, saying that she would “love to go to another Olympics”.

She said: “It’s a love. It’s a passion. It’s a lifestyle and that’s why it’s such an incredible sport and such an incredible discipline. We’re all much more invested in the horses than ourselves”.