A nine-year-old girl who got into riding when lockdown brought a halt to gymnastics has raised £500 for her own pony, and charity, by making and selling soap and candles.
Belle Nicholls had no time to ride before the coronavirus pandemic hit, as she dedicated three hours, three times a week, to her preferred sport.
But when all indoor activities ceased, and remained off limits when outdoor sports could restart, she had time to try riding instead.
“We gave it a go and she fell completely in love with it,” her mother Heather told H&H.
“Everything else went by the wayside; it was all she wanted to do. And it wasn’t just the riding; she loves grooming, mucking out and everything to do with looking after them.”
Before long, Belle was talking about a pony of her own, but mindful of the commitment, Heather said she should wait long enough to ensure she was still keen.
She was then offered the chance to take on loan the pony she rode at the riding school, which Heather said “solidified” her passion.
“She’s just in love; winter hasn’t put her off at all,” she said.
The fundraising came about after Belle made herself a lip gloss, and a visiting relative asked if she could make another for her to buy, then she found videos online, on making soap and candles, which she has since been selling.
“Belle said ‘we could save this and I could buy a pony’,” Heather said. “She’s so committed; she’s raised about £500 so far.”
Belle also saw the local Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary was appealing for support so she has donated £50 of her hard-earned money and sponsored a donkey.
“She’s done so well,” Heather said. “She’s probably on target to buy a saddle, if not the pony yet!”
The young rider wowed the judge at her first show, on Shetland Super Splash
Taking tumbles, grappling with tack cleaning and discipline are all par for the course of a child’s initiation into ponies
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
Heather said she and her husband will probably wait until Belle is in secondary school before they look to buy her a pony, and that they will boost her earnings when that time comes.
“It’s not just about the riding, it’s all animals; she loves them,” she said. “But it’s dressage she’s really interested in, that’s what she wants to do.
“She’s fabulous; she does whatever she puts her mind to.
“This was all because of lockdown but it’s lovely for a little girl and it’s become a real family affair; there’s definitely no looking back.”
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.