Jenny Pitman (nee Harvey) was born in Hoby, Leicestershire in 1946, where she grew up on a farm. Whilst young she sustained a fractured skull when a show jumping pole fell on her head at a gymkhana in Syston.
She left home at 15 to work in horse stables, and married jockey Richard Pitman at the age of 19, with whom she had two sons. In 1975 she gained her licence to train race horses. She was divorced in 1975 and moved to stables in Lambourn, Berkshire. In 1983 she became the first female horse trainer to win the Grand National, with a horse called Corbiere, and went on to win two Cheltenham Gold Cups, the Hennessy Gold Cup, the King George VI Gold Cup, and a further Grand National in 1995 with Royal Athlete. In 1998 she received an OB