A QUINTET of young riders made their mark at a national competition.
After qualifying in the morning session of mounted games for the final stage, the Morpeth Hunt Pony Club Junior team finished ninth at the Pony Club Championships at Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire.
And Josie Forster, aged 10, riding Mr Measles, Lauren Robinson, 10, riding Henry, Jacob Swan, 10, riding Pip, Eloise Woods, eight, riding Lucky, and Georgia Woods, 10, riding Missy, were the tack and turnout overall winners.
They came through two earlier contests to make it to the Cheshire event.
Team trainer Charlotte Robson said: “I’m extremely pleased with their performance on the day and ninth is an excellent position.
“We have a nice group of children riding family ponies and although the concept devised by Prince Philip is that the competitions are for people with ‘ordinary ponies’, you could tell that lots of money had been spent on some of the teams’ ponies and that makes the result even better for our team.
“All six get on really well and they have learned to support each other, which has been a big factor in their success.”
The group, which also includes reserve Jessica Robinson, eight, started training once a week in an indoor arena back in February of this year and have been taking part at friendly competitions since April to prepare them for the main contest.
This has involved travelling to Durham, Wetherby (twice), Kildale, Penrith and Sheriff Hutton and they were victorious in a few of these events.
Their trainer added: “Pony Club games are great fun for the children. However, it requires a huge commitment from both the children and their parents throughout the year.
“They practice regularly once and sometimes twice a week after school and at weekends and many competitions require travelling quite a distance – not ideal with the price of fuel and staying away in tents, caravans or wagons for one or two nights, with ponies penned beside them.
“Whilst these weekends away are a big commitment in terms of time and expense, there is no doubt that competing against other teams helps the children to improve as well as making new friends from all over the north of England and Scotland.
“The Morpeth parents have been wonderfully supportive and tolerant over the last few years and this is perhaps at least part of the reason why the Junior team have qualified for the championships in four out of the last five years.
“We are extremely grateful to the following local businesses who chipped in with sponsorship to help take the team down to the championships – Green’s of Morpeth, Robson and Cowan of Scots Gap, The Dyke Neuk Inn at Meldon, Silvermoor Equestrian Haylage and The Black Horse Shop.”