A young Jedburgh horsewoman has spent the weekend of a lifetime for a horse-mad showjumping teenager.
For 14-year-old Ellie Meldrum trained with former Olympic show jumpers, Graham and Tina Fletcher after winning an X-Factor style competition, the Countryside Live show in Yorkshire, on her pony Sylvester last year.
The pair won the ‘Search for a Talented Show Jumper’.
The teenager described her two days at the Fletchers’ yard as “an amazing experience”.
Since then, she has gone on to compete as part of the British Showjumping Association (BSJA) Scotland Junior Academy team on Sylvester.
She said: “It was wonderful spending time with the Fletchers – it really was amazing. The whole experience has encouraged me to go for it, and believe in myself.”
She plans to compete in the Northern Show Cross Section at next month’s Countryside Live.
She continued: “The highlight of my prize with the Fletchers was riding Tina’s ‘Hello Sailor’ who competed at the Olympics. Over the weekend I learned so much.”
The teenager has been riding since she was a toddler and had partnered 14.2hh Sylvester for just eight weeks when she won the competition last year.
She said at the time: “I am ecstatic, it’s just fantastic, I didn’t think I would get through. I just tried my hardest and can’t believe that I did it.”
Graham Fletcher had commented that it had been tough choosing the winner out of a record-breaking number of entries but that Ellie stood out for her “enthusiasm and willingness to learn”.
He said: “Sylvester is a really nice pony and Ellie wants to learn, which will help her progress to the next stage.”
The family nearly didn’t buy Sylvester. They travelled to Edinburgh where Ellie tried him, but mum Wendy thought Sylvester was too strong for her small daughter. However, Ellie persuaded her parents she wanted to try the 22-year-old gelding again. The family returned the following night “and it was a completely different story: they just looked brilliant together”, said Wendy.
“She’s 14, but she’s really tiny, she looks totty on him, but they’re soulmates, they are just lovely together.
“She’s funny talking about him. She describes him as like an older gentleman who would wear a cravat and dressing gown. She just loves him.”
Ellie trains once a month with the British Showjumping Junior Academy in Edinburgh. Last week she was second in the academy national finals at Coventry. And she will compete for Jedburgh Grammar in the national schools competition in London later this year.
The pony-mad teenager has another pony, six-year-old Pop, a 12.2hh New Forest on whom she hunts and competes cross country. Ellie also rides for Jedburgh trainers Karen and Kenny Lynn, riding a nine-year-old 11h grey Welsh Mountain pony, Geoffrey.
“He’s really special to her,” said Wendy.
Asked what her daughter’s ambitions are, Wendy said: “She wants to get spotted. She wants to be the female Scott Brash.
“She won a jumping competition at the weekend – it was really technical and she loves that. She’s very quiet, but she’s very, very focused.”