Saddle up and follow medallists

Charlotte Bentham and her horse Finley.
Charlotte Bentham and her horse Finley.

FOLLOWING the launch of our series focusing on grass roots sport earlier this week, Mail reporter CHRISTOPHER SMITH takes a look at the equestrian world following the silver success of Team GB’s three-day eventing stars.

WHILE the likes of Zara Phillips have been competing in the individual and team competitions, closer to home some youngsters are already beginning to make their mark in the equestrian world.

Charlotte Bentham, of Castle Eden, has been showjumping with her horse Finley in competitions across England and Scotland, including at Edinburgh’s high-profile Royal Highland Show.

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The 13-year-old said: “We have to travel all over to try and qualify for the competitions, and then I compete at the bigger shows to qualify for the next levels.

“I still get a bit nervous, but it helps if I try and pretend I’m at home without an audience.

“The Highland Show had really bad weather.

“I didn’t qualify for the next level, but it was still an achievement to get that far.”

Charlotte’s mum Denise, who runs Edenwell Equestrian Centre, said there are a couple of different routes into horse riding.

She said: “Some start to learn through their family, because their mums have horses, while others will come to us and have horse riding lessons.

“They then progress to have their own horse.”

Determination and resilience are an essential part of learning, said Denise, who added: “It takes a lot of work and a long time to get to a professional level, but it is possible.

“You’ll need to be tough, and be able to take knocks – you will fall off your horse - and it does begin to get competitive.

“Once you begin to compete, you might need two or three horses, depending on the level you qualify for.

“The best way to learn is through a British Horse Society approved school. You can still start to learn from about £15 a lesson, and as a beginner you don’t need your own horse.”.