Arkengarthdale youngster wins national dressage tournament

Annabelle Hird.

An Arkengarthdale 12-year-old has won a national dressage tournament by beating competitors five years older than her.

Annabelle Hird, a Year 8 student at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, trains with Bedale West of Yore Pony Club and The 3 Valleys Riding Club.

Annabelle took home the individual and team dressage win at the British Riding Club National 5-star Championships at Lincoln Showground and was also awarded the Overall British Riding Clubs Junior Dressage Champion out of 116 competitors.

Riding her pony Meg, Annabelle worked hard over the summer to prepare for the championships.

Her efforts were rewarded with her win in the individual section which contributed to a team win for the four members of The 3 Valleys Riding Club.

In addition, Annabelle was part of the Bedale West of Yore Pony Club team who came first out of 21 teams at the recent Pony Club Championships.

Annabelle, who lives on a remote farm at the top of Arkengarthdale, has been riding since the age of three around the farm but has only been competing seriously since spring 2020 when she got Meg, her new pony.

Meg is a 14hh Connemara-cross thoroughbred.

Annabelle said: “I am really proud of everything I have achieved with Meg. She is a very special pony and we work really well together and have a lot of trust in each other.

“I was excited to attend the National Championships as it is such a big event, I knew we had a good team that would hopefully get placed but to win both individually and overall was unexpected.

“I am very grateful to my coaches especially my aunt, Sally Richardson, and Robert Blane from the Bedale West of Yore Pony Club who helped me achieve this success.

“It was a fantastic feeling to be awarded three sashes and rosettes, not forgetting a rug for Meg during the prize giving and I particularly enjoyed the lap of honour.”

Richmond School headteacher Jenna Potter said: “With only two years of experience in dressage under her belt it is amazing that Annabelle outclassed 116 competitors, many of whom were much older than her.

“Annabelle’s passion and dedication to her riding is admirable and she is a great example to our students demonstrating so many of our school values, including excellence, teamwork, determination and independence.”