An 11-year-old rider and her adorable spotty pony impressed to scoop two top-10 placings at the Winter Dressage Championships.
Sophie Mansell, one of the youngest competitors at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festival finals, and her 13.2hh Bravo Freckles are ones to watch in future.
The pair scored 69.03% to finish ninth in the novice bronze Area Festival final on Friday (20 April) before impressing judges in the competitive HorseHage prelim winter championship to collect the fourth place rosette with a score of 71.55%
British Dressage under-21 camps are something Sophie and Freckles have hugely enjoyed, and many of their friends were there to cheer them on at Hartpury.
“He’s 16 years old and he’s cheeky, but he’s calm,” says Sophie, who counts Lottie Fry and Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour among her heroes and remembers the “amazing” times she met Charlotte Dujardin and Olivia Towers.
“He was a really good boy, he was very bold and brave. Today was magical in that [indoor] arena, it was so much fun. I was just dancing with my best friend.
“It was magical, walking through the archway with all the lights and music was amazing.”
“I don’t mind what the scores are, because I know that he’s done really well.”
Sophie and her mum, Stef, had packed plenty of Polos for their trip from Tenby to their “local” venue of Hartpury.
“He’s not cuddly – You can cuddle him from the side, but not the head. He loves his treats, especially Polos, and likes his personal space,” Sophie adds.
“We hack, we do jumping now and again, and pole work. We mostly do dressage, that’s my favourite thing to do.”
Riding at the Olympics and writing a book are among Sophie’s dreams for the future. In the more immediate future, she is hoping to step up to elementary with Freckles.
“I blame the 2012 Olympics!” says Stef, with a laugh. “Sophie was born in 2012 and as a tiny baby dance, we watch Charlotte, Carl and Laura dance, and that was it.”
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