Equestrian delight: Six-year-old stars in school challenge

Three good friends, from left Tara Kelly McAuley Catholic College, Lindsey Blanch Clarence Valley Anglican School and Niav Bacon of Grafton Public School, all aged 12 years, rode against each other while they represented their individual school.
Three good friends, from left Tara Kelly McAuley Catholic College, Lindsey Blanch Clarence Valley Anglican School and Niav Bacon of Grafton Public School, all aged 12 years, rode against each other while they represented their individual school.

THERE is nothing better than representing your school with a group of your closest friends.

Competing against them in a sport you love would have to come close.

Tara Kelly, Lindsey Blanch and Niav Bacon were three of about 210 students who felt that experience at the Clarence Valley Inter-school Equestrian Challenge last weekend.

The event, which was hosted by Hawthorne Park for the fifth time, welcomed 35 schools for the new two-day format.

Grafton Pony Club treasurer and event organiser Christi Brown said the format change was a success.

"Everything went really well," Brown said.

"It used to be a three-day program but we shortened it to two this year and it definitely worked better. There were a few teething issues but nothing too major.

"I was a little bit worried after the rain on Friday but the weather played nice for us."

The star of the show was six-year-old Caitlyn Olive from Richmond Christian College.

Olive stunned her junior point- score peers to claim victory with an overall score 37 from a possible 40 points.

Brown said it was an amazing performance from such a young rider.

"She was just brilliant," Brown said.

"It is unusual for such a young rider to win the point score but she blew them away.

"Two of her sisters were riding and they're pretty good as well. Riding must be in the genes."

The most rewarding part of the program for Brown was when the dust finally settled on Sunday afternoon.

Brown said she was overwhelmed with positive feedback from young riders who made a point of showing their appreciation.

"The kids really enjoyed themselves," Brown said.

"It was quite overwhelming with all the kids coming up and giving me hugs to say thank you for the weekend.

"Overall it's great for the community to get the kids involved in something they might not usually get a chance to do."

Grafton Pony Club would like to thank the sponsors and volunteers who helped run the event, saying that without either the event "wouldn't be a success".

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