Eighteen-year-old Emily Smith has been named as the “equine learner of the year” – for her dedication to training – at the Lantra Scotland land-based and aquaculture learner of the year awards ceremony on 1 March.

Lantra is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for land-based and environmental industries, providing training and helping people to find environmental and agricultural jobs.

Miss Smith was nominated by Barony College, Dumfriesshire, after completing a National Certificate in equine studies.

“I really want to progress my career and become a head groom some day, so I hope that having my skills recognised [by this award] will help me get there,” she said.

“When I know I have done my best and the horses are happy and comfortable it gives me a great sense of pride.”

Rachel Rosscraig, 19, who had studied a SVQ level 3 in horsecare at Elmwood Collegeequine runner-up of the year“.

“I find the most satisfying part of the job when we get difficult or unbroken horses,” she said.

“It is a great feeling of achievement when you learn to cope with different horses’ temperaments.”

The awards are designed to encourage people to take up a career in the land-based sector and make employers aware of the benefits of a well-trained workforce.

Scottish Minister for youth employment Angela Constance attended the awards ceremony.

She said: “Often in a time of economic uncertainty it is staff training and skills development that can suffer first.

“However, successful businesses will recognise [that] it is during such times when investing in skills can carry even more importance.”

For more information on the work of Lantra visit www.lantra.co.uk