Personal best performance for place in national dressage finals

WONDERFUL SURPRISE: Libby Hart did not expect to win the East region qualifier on her first try

Libby Hart is on the path to greatness, as she prepares to represent Suffolk in the NSEA County Dressage & Show Jumping Championships in April.

Eleven-year-old Hart from Bury St Edmunds came first in the East region qualifying event on January 21, at Forest Edge Arena, to secure her place in the National Finals, to be held at Bury Farm between April 20 and 22.

And now the Culford School pupil is targeting a top-three finish, as she looks to ‘ace’ her performance.

Hart won the NSEA (National Schools’ Equestrian Association) qualifier in some style, with a personal best performance of 73.03 per cent on Poppy, her current pony.

Hart has only recently teamed up with Poppy, full-name Platinum Ashley Gold, who is the former pony of Holly Kerslake, a 13-year-old international pony dressage rider on the GB Prime Squad.

Mum Rickie Zayee said it was ‘pretty big boots to fill’ but that Libby had already gone a long way to living up to the expectation.

She said: “She’s a very ambitious young lady, all the drive comes from her, and this is a big achievement for her.

“She’s thrilled to have made the finals.

“She knows she has pretty big boots to fill with Poppy but she’s already showing she’s more than capable.

“I was busy managing her expectations, telling her she hadn’t had Poppy long and it takes time to bond. But I didn’t need to at all.

“And now she’s pushing to improve on all the feedback to be able to ace the finals. A top-three finish or even win it.

“This is probably her last chance at novice level so she’s very determined.”

Zayee added that Libby has also been invited to try out for the British Dressage Youth team in a few weeks.

She will take part in a ‘squadding’ event for a place in the C squad — skipping the first stage — provided she is able to show a level of competency in her control of Poppy.

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