Belle Balding has been elected chairman of the Irish Pony Club.

She took on her new role on Wednesday (17 November). Ms Balding takes over from Alice Mernagh, who was chairman for 10 years.

During her time in charge Ms Mernagh oversaw a number of changes in the Irish Pony Club, including the implementation of a code of ethics for the protection of children in sport.

Ms Balding, who is from Baltinglass, is a member of the Carlow Hunt branch and has been a long-standing member of the Irish Pony Club national executive.

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) Chairman Joe Walsh said the organisation was looking forward to working with Ms Balding.

“Alice has been an outstanding ambassador for the Pony Club movement and has also made a huge contribution to the HSI. Her contribution to the Pony Club movement and the sport horse sector over the last 10 years has been immense. I look forward to working with Belle Balding in her new role,” he said.

“The Pony Club makes a massive contribution to the equestrian sector in what they do for young people. Many of our top equestrian stars started riding in pony clubs, and without them our sector would be faced with a huge void.”