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British horse society - No horse – no problem!Talented riders from across the UK descended on Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell, on Wednesday 4 April for the finals of The British Horse Society National Riding Schools’ Championship.

This unique competition, where no competitor owns their own horse, is run by The British Horse Society (BHS) to encourage non-horse owners to ride and compete. Regional qualifiers are held at BHS Approved Riding Centres across the UK with the top riders from each age group progressing forward to contest the national Finals.  The Championship comprises a dressage test, showjumping course and a set of equine-related general knowledge questions and is enjoyed by riders of all ages, from 10 to 60 plus.

The 13 years and under final was won by 12-year-old Lauren Rippon from Worthing in Sussex. Lauren rides at Arundel Farm Riding and Driving Centre where she is taught by riding instructor, Lauren Glasspool.  Alison Leggett who owns Arundel farm and star pony Bobby said: “It’s brilliant. Lauren has never done a competition before. She was terribly, terribly nervous this morning and to manage to win at her first event is just lovely to see.”

This year’s 17 years and under winner couldn’t have been more appropriately named – 15-year-old Rebecca Champion, from Pickering in Yorkshire.  Rebecca rides at Friars Hill Stables in Sinnington, under the instruction of proprietor Alison Brown.  “I love every minute of this competition,” said Alison. “It’s a fabulous contest because there is something for everyone – those that are good at quizzes for example can increase their score in that section. It’s just brilliant and our riders love it. Rebecca’s a star. I’m over the moon because she’s worked really hard over the last 18 months.”

In the 18 years and over competition there was a bit of déjà vu for winner Alice Dymond-Andrews from Gillingham. This year’s title was her second riding school championship, having won the 13 years and under competition back in 2007.  “It’s just unbelievable,” said Alice who rode Shannon, a 17-year-old mare. “I really didn’t expect to win today. It’s really, really, lovely to come back here and win again. “I haven’t ridden Shannon much,” she continues. “I don’t get much chance to ride because I’m saving for University at the moment, so to come here today and to win with her has just been incredible.”

Alice is taught by Helen Barton Smith at Pippin Equestrian Ltd. She said: “It’s such a wonderful competition. These are the people that don’t get the opportunity to compete and the excitement in the yard in the build up to this day is unbelievable. It gives them a real chance to have a go at succeeding at something, it’s just great.”

Lynn Petersen, Chief Executive of The British Horse Society, was thrilled that the riders had got so much out of the day. She said: “This is such a special competition for us because it brings together people who love horses but simply cannot afford one with our BHS riding schools who do so much to fulfil the hopes and dreams of young people and adults alike.”

Full results are available on the BHS website, www.bhs.org.uk.

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