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April 24, 2018

Olivia’s hot to trot thanks to a place in British dressage squad

Young rider Olivia Whitelaw is hoping to trot her way to the top after being chosen to represent Great Britain in the Pony Progress Squad.

The 12-year-old, from Hoveringham, was one of a dozen selected by British Dressage to be in the British Equestrian Federation squad with her horse, Twylands Tiffin.

She said: “I am really excited to have been given such a brilliant opportunity. To work with the very best trainers to develop my riding will be very beneficial and for that I am very grateful.”

She was chosen from a line-up of 43 potential young dressage riders. Dressage involves performing a sequence of complex manoeuvres called a test. Britain’s dressage team won the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics and Olivia now hopes to follow their lead.

Olivia Whitelaw
Pony Progress squad
Olivia Whitelaw with her 16 year old horse Tiffin.
Picture by Dan Westwell

“I will train once a month with the top trainers,” she said. “They know what is needed if I am to fulfil my dreams of riding for Great Britain internationally.”

Olivia’s trainer, Hannah Esberger Hancock, 40, from Sheffield, has been working with the youngster since she was seven.

“It’s a massive achievement to get on to the squad,” she said. “Olivia is extremely dedicated and determined and focused on where she wants to go.

“She is really keen on her dressage, and over the last three or four years she has really come into her own.

“You can teach someone to ride, but you can’t teach them to have the feel for riding – she has it.”

This year Olivia took part in the British Dressage Petplan Equine Area Festival where she was the only rider under 18 competing; she ended up coming second.

Olivia’s mum, Nikki, 44, is extremely proud of her daughter.

“To have been selected at such a young age is amazing,” she said.

Olivia initially took part in jumping competitions, as well as British Dressage, but decided to drop jumping a year ago.

“It was very difficult for her to focus on one sport diligently, so she had to withdraw from jumping competitions.

“She’s now focusing very hard on dressage to be the best she can be,” added Mrs Whitelaw