A busy show season for Dromore's lead rein star Charlotte
Five-year-old Charlotte Cassidy and Shetland pony Ronelle Ebony, bred by Sharon Cumberland, also rode off with the Reserve Mini Champion accolade at this year's show.
The young Dromore equestrian dreams of competing at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham’s NEC Arena, and won't let anything stand in her way – not even a broken bone.
Charlotte had an unfortunate fall while packing up the horse lorry to leave Balmoral and head to another competition in Scotland.
However, unbeknown to Charlotte and her family, the youngster took to the show ring in Scotland onboard Ebony with a broken wrist.
The keen rider performed a fantastic show at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Scotland Midterm Show held at Netherton Equestrian on Sunday 14 May, taking an impressive third place in her class.
Back home, however, the extent of Charlotte's injury soon became apparent and she found herself in a cast.
Now, the five-year-old is counting down the days until she is able to get back in the saddle for a busy summer show circuit, including the Royal Highland next month.
Charlotte, who rides four ponies for Anthea Steele Equestrian, first sat on a pony when she was just 18 months old.
With Anthea expertly producing the ponies and leading them in the ring, Charlotte is enjoying an abundance of showing success in mountain and moorland, show pony lead rein and show hunter.
Her proud mummy, Natasha, said: “This is Charlotte's third year competing and she loves it - she is pony mad. Her bedroom wall is covered in the sashes she has won.
“Two of the ponies have qualified for the Royal International Horse Show, three are attending the Royal Highland Show, including Ebony, and the plan is to qualify her for Hickstead too.”
The four-day Northern Ireland Festival, held in Cavan Equestrian Centre recently, brought further accolades when Charlotte and Ebony took part in the Supreme Championship and clinched the Reserve Mini Novice Supreme Champion title.
Charlotte isn't the only young rider in the family, with her older brother Zach (7) also involved.
“Zach enjoys working hunter and he wants to jump,” Natasha continued.
“Both of them are members of Iveagh Pony Club.
“They love going to all the different shows and enjoy the atmosphere at them, as well as the friends they meet.
“It teaches them many skills and good horsemanship.
“We have three ponies at home so, after their dinner, they will be out mucking out before going for a ride.
“It gets them outside in the evenings and they learn a lot from it.”
Charlotte enjoys telling her teachers and classmates about her competitions, so her Balmoral rosettes will be perfect for the next 'show and tell' at school.
Reflecting on Balmoral, Natasha said Charlotte “loved it” but admitted it was “nearly more nerve-racking” to compete there as it's the local show.
“Everyone wants to win at Balmoral,” she added.
“Charlotte is really competitive, but she takes it all in her stride.
“For a lot of the ponies she rides, this is their first show season and Charlotte is the first small person to sit on them, but she doesn't care.”
Going forward, the determined youngster has her sights firmly set on the Horse of the Year Show.
“Her dream is to ride at HOYS,” Natasha explained.
“We went to watch last year and she was mesmerised by it. It really was magical to watch.
“There's a lot of work that goes in behind the scenes.”
With Charlotte's grit, there's no doubt she will make her dream a reality and add a HOYS ribbon to her growing stack of prizes.