THOUSANDS of people have enjoyed two major youth equestrian events in Cholmondeley and Kelsall.

More than 1,600 riders competed in the recent Pony Club Championships, which were held over four days in front of a 5,000-plus crowd at the picturesque setting of Cholmondeley Castle.

And Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre played host to the 12th annual Pony Club Novice Championships involving more than 800 members over the two-day event.

The Pony Club Championships at Cholmondeley, which involved more than 200 Pony Club branches from across the country and 500 volunteers, saw riders compete in the finals for show jumping, dressage, eventing, mounted games and polocrosse, as well as the centre equitation competition, horse and pony care championship and musical ride.

Martha Newall, of the Cheshire Hunt South Branch of The Pony Club, enjoyed a successful championships winning the intermediate individual show jumping event.

The 17-year-old was riding Maddie and finished on a score of zero penalties in the jump-off and in a time of 32.44 seconds – more than four seconds clear of her nearest competitor.

Chairman of The Pony Club Cherry Michell said: “Everywhere I looked at the championships people were smiling.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to Musketeer Event Management, the Cholmondeley Estate and ‘the weather’ for holding up for us, which has allowed us to host this incredible event where I have seen so many examples of our next generation of equestrian talent.”

The event in Kelsall saw the finals for eventing, show jumping and dressage.

The host branch, Cheshire Hunt North, had a win in the eventing team competition.

Xanthe Goldsack, 12, Bethany Lee, 17, Emmie Davidson-Slack, 16, and Katriona Ratcliffe, 14, finished on a score of 81.4 penalties – over ten penalties clear of their nearest rivals.

Joan Deakin, district commissioner for the Cheshire Hunt North branch and event organiser, said: “When the first members start to arrive at The Novice Championships the excitement just grows and grows – the buzz is infectious.

“For the members who have reached the championships it’s the equivalent of the Olympics.”