YOUNG eventer Charlotte Agnew is well on track to realise her ambitions to become one of Britain's top riders.
This week that dream took a step closer for the 21-year-old university student from Kelso, with the first session of a two-year development programme, a place on which is coveted by every young eventer in the country.
The World-class Development Programme is lottery-funded via UK Sport and seeks to identify and develop riders who have shown the potential to reach the world stage.
It incorporates the three Olympic sports of dressage, eventing, showjumping and the Paralympic sport of para-equestrian dressage.
Speaking to TheSouthern from the development programme’s base at Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire this week, Charlotte said the experience has been fantastic.
“It has been great – a real eye-opener,” she said. “You get access to so many experts and just being around so many professionals is an amazing experience.”
Charlotte is hoping she will be able to benefit for at least a year, if not longer.
“The sessions are only a few days long each time with massive amounts crammed in, just because it’s very difficult to be away from your home base for longer periods,” she said.
The selection process, which takes place bi-annually, invites riders who meet set minimum criteria to viewing trials.
Following this initial ridden assessment by British and international trainers, successful riders are invited back to selection trials.
At this final stage, the riders are assessed on their ridden skills and are interviewed.
The development programme is divided into start and potential within each sport and then further into gold, silver and bronze funding levels.
All riders on the scheme will have access to the same benefits, including equine and human health, fitness and nutritional support, plus training and regular squad sessions.
Riders are required to plan competitions, training, management and personal development with the assistance of the world-class personnel.
Sarah Verney, discipline co-ordinator for the development eventing programme, says the standard of riders that came forward for selection was exceptional.
“The very high calibre of selectors appointed, who each had a good understanding of what was required to select potential Olympic level riders, is reflected in the riders chosen for the development programme,” Verney said this week.
“With the support services that the development programme offers, Charlotte will be able to build on the success she has already achieved as a young rider, and develop further into a rider that hopefully one day will represent GB in a major championship at senior level”.
Outwith the programme, Charlotte hopes her two horses, Little Beau and Out of Africa, will carry her to further success in the under-25 championships at Bramhan and later at Blenheim.
“I am packing as much as I can into this first session, trying to get the most out of it, because it’s a wonderful opportunity,” she added.