At just 10 years old, Lainey O’Neill is definitely one of the youngest competitors at this week’s LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September).
Lainey’s pony, Glyncoch Red Rascal (or Rascal as he’s known at home), is the same age as her, and the smallest competing at this championships, standing at just 13.1hh.
“I decided I wanted to do dressage when I was eight,” says Lainey, who is in year six at primary school. “I used to jump, but I was always thinking that I might fall off, so that’s why I decided dressage was for me.”
Lainey, who is from Shepton Mallet in Somerset, has owned Rascal since last Christmas. Before this, the Welsh section C was competed by Betsy Smetham in under-25 championships and at elementary level.
“He’s quite cheeky but so willing — he’s never naughty and he loves his job — he’s a real showman,” explains Lainey. “I train with Matt Frost and I want to be the next Charlotte Dujardin.”
Lainey’s mother, Naomi, is her groom and she says that Lainey needs to “stop growing!”.
“It feels a long way around the arena on such a small pony,” says Lainey. “My favourite movement to train at home is simple changes as they’re the start of being able to do flying changes which I can’t wait to do!”
Lainey and Rascal were competing in the Backinaction prelim silver championship at the national dressage championships.
“I managed to get the day off school,” smiled Lainey. “They’re very supportive.”
The pair scored a respectable 71.21% and finished sixth in a big class of 29.
Keep up to date with all of the news from the National Dressage Championships by keeping an eye on the Horse & Hound website, and don’t miss the full magazine report, out on Thursday 21 September.