Hard work and perseverance helped Brigg rider Grace Johnson defend a coveted title at the SEIB Trailblazers National Championships.
Grace had to come through two rounds qualifying rounds to reach the finals at Stoneleigh Park, in Warwickshire, and made the trip south worthwhile by winning the Countrywide Seniors on Ponies 75cm class.
Grace, who studies mental health nursing at the University of Lincoln, clinched the championship aboard her 15-year-old gelding Royston, who was rescued as a colt by a local riding school.
“Roy struggled to find someone who would click with him, due to his quirky personality and ability to get his own way,” said Grace.
The pair met nine years ago, and after four years, she was offered the chance to take over the ride solely. They bonded quickly, and Grace bought the pony in 2012.
Now, the combination enjoy hacking out and contesting local hunter trials, but the Trailblazers Championship is the highlight of their year.
“This year we qualified for Trailblazers at Hill House Equestrian Centre and we returned to Stoneleigh in attempt to defend his 2015 championship title,” she added. “And to our delight we did it.
“When we returned home, Roy’s stable buddies said they knew he must have done well because he was strutting around the field extremely proud of his win.”
The Trailblazers Championships offers a unique opportunity for any adult rider with a smaller mount.
Grace and Roy plan to return in 2017 to defend their title.
“Three years ago the Trailblazers Championships opened a new doorway for me as I can now compete at a national level as a senior on a pony,” she said.
Classes at the championships include showing, dressage, show jumping and combined training and there are no registration fees for horse or rider.
First round qualifying competitions are already under way for next year’s national championships.
* To find out more about qualifying dates and venues, visit www.trailblazerschampionships.com