An equine sports therapy student at Writtle College has been named a finalist in a national young rider competition.
Sophie James was one of only six finalists in the Dodson & Horrell/Horse & Hound young rider bursary.
The 20-year-old, who was selected from nearly 200 entrants, said: “Gaining this recognition from Horse and Hound magazine is very exciting, a huge privilege and a confidence boost. I put a huge amount of effort and time into riding and being named a finalist is a bit more than a red rosette!”
The accolade is the latest success for the dressage rider and her seven-year-old horse Vido.
Last month, she went to the Petplan area festival hoping to finish in the top 10 and gained a seventh place.
In June, she went to the BYRDS (British Young Riders Dressage Scheme) inter-regionals at Keysoe representing the southern team, as she is originally from Kent.
She has qualified for the medium level regional championships and she hopes to gain the one point more she needs for the elementary level regionals as well. In addition, this winter, she will ride in her first advanced medium test.
Next season, she will re-qualify at medium level as well as ride the freestyle to music test. She hopes to be invited back to the BYRDS inter-regionals next year to ride with the A squad test.
Sophie has owned Vido since he was three and now keeps him at a yard in Ongar while she studies for her equine sports therapy degree at Writtle College, riding him at least six times a week.
She said: “'During 2013 I plan to move up a level but it will be busy as I’ll be in the final year of my degree at Writtle College. As well as writing my dissertation and preparing for my final exams, I’m also hoping to qualify as an equine body worker.
“After graduation, I want to see how far I can go with my riding – the Olympics is the dream for any competitive rider. But alongside this I am building up my clientele for equine sports massage and hope to be self-employed.”
Sue Tracey, course leader for the equine sports therapy degree at Writtle College, congratulated Sophie saying: “Sophie and Vido make a great team and she has made an excellent job of balancing her academic life with her competition career. Combining her training regime with her understanding of functional anatomy, biomechanics and sports therapy has clearly taken her to an exceptional level.”
To find out more about the equine sports therapy degree at Writtle College, visit www.writtle.ac.uk