Destined for a life in the saddle, Selkirk teenager Sam Coltherd has returned from his final Pony Club Games international with a winning smile.
Having left school earlier in the summer, Sam, who turns 16 in November, will take up his apprentice jockey licence next month when he will ride for his father, racehorse trainer Stuart Coltherd, as well as work at the family farm near Midlem.
Quite a star on the Pony Club Games circuit, however, young Coltherd was determined to end that particular pastime in style and did just that when competing for Team GB at a Mounted Games Exchange International in Wales last month.
Hundreds of applicants from Pony Club branches all over the country applied for places in the five-strong team, which were not only awarded for riding ability, but for suitability to be an ambassador for your country.
Competing against teams from USA, Australia and Canada, the GB outfit took top podium spot after 16 gruelling sections of competition. And Duke of Buccleuch member Sam, the only Scot in the quintet, was delighted with the result.
“This will more than likely be my last competition in the Pony Club events as most of them have an age limit of 16,” he told The Southern.
“It was a great experience and I feel as though I have really finished on a high.
Sam has great ambitions to become a professional jockey and the youngster is looking forward to getting started.
“Hopefully, in a couple of years when I can drive, I will move to a bigger yard down south to get a bit more experience, but I am quite happy doing what I am doing at the moment.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m really lucky that we have the set-up here that will enable me to achieve my goals.
“I have had some help along the way from jockeys such as Ryan Mania and Tom Hamilton, and there are always people on hand to give you a bit of advice.”
At five foot nine inches tall, the aspirational rider is well aware that weight could become a problem in the future, but is already working on that.
“I keep busy on the farm and I play rugby at weekends, so I’m not really worried about it at the moment,” said Sam, who admits to being a chocolate and Haribo lover.
The sporting youngster also hopes to make the move up from the Selkirk Cougars Under-16s team to semi-junior outfit Selkirk Youth Club next month.