Teenager riding high after success in national horse show
Erin, 12, of Range View, Whitburn, came a commendable sixth out of 28 youngsters in the prestigious Royal International Horse Show.
In her first attempt at qualification, she outperformed riders from across the country who also aimed to make it to the competition final.
And she now has double cause for celebration after also qualifying for the famous Horse of the Year Show which takes place in Birmingham in October.
She will again compete on her eight-year-old Buzz, a male Welsh Section A pony, whose competition name is Coffeepot Buccaneer.
Mum Rachel Ford, 32, a quality technician, said Erin, who started riding as a toddler, had exceeded all expectations.
She added: “Erin rides almost every day and is very hardworking and determined.
“She invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting Buzz ready for the Royal as sometimes he would come to shows and just freeze.
“But she worked with him and they are now a great partnership, a wonderful team.
“Erin was riding ponies almost as soon as she could walk and is a naturally gifted rider.
“It was special for her to get to the Royal, we had been there as spectators to support friends and it was her dream to ride there herself.
“We didn’t have any expectations for her, just getting there was a bonus and to then be placed was very special.
“The same applies with the Horse of the Year Show, she is just delighted to be going there.”
The annual Royal show, one of England’s premier outdoor competitions, took place at Hickstead, West Sussex.
Erin competed in the 12-and-under first ridden category.
For the Horse of the Year Show, the country’s largest indoor competition, she and Buzz will compete in the under-16 junior category.
To qualify, they travelled to Rugby, Warwickshire, for a competition heat.
They will come up against around 30 of the country’s most talented young riders in what is again Erin’s first qualification attempt at the show.
Buzz is one of four ponies belonging to the family which are stabled at Wheathall Farm, Whitburn.
Erin’s sister, Grace, 10, also rides but prefers jumping rather than showing, while brother Corey, eight, has yet to be bitten by the riding bug.
As a career, Erin wants to work with horses and produce them, which means preparing them for other people to ride, and is studying to be a young competition judge.