Horse-mad girl to compete inbiggest event

A HORSE mad youngster is set to compete in the country's biggest equine event.

Olivia Maltby (7) of Main Road in Fishlake has qualified to take part in the 2009 Horse of the Year show after delighting judges earlier this year.

The Hatfield Woodhouse Primary School pupil, who first started riding when she was three-years-old, competed in the qualifying stages in July on one of her four horses, Greyland's Little Rascal - known as Rascal.

Olivia and Rascal will team up again this Saturday for the Horse of the Year show, which will involve them

competing against over 20 other participants for the under nine's category.

Alick Maltby, Olivia's dad, explained how the horsey talent runs in the family.

He told the Gazette: "Olivia's older sisters, Holly and Sophie used to compete when they were younger. Olivia's mum Louise also used to show jump and her grandfather used to hunt too so it's definitely something that has gone down the generations.

"We live in Fishlake which is quite a horse area and Olivia just absolutely idolises the ponies. She loves all four and she even mucks out the stables.

"She's a natural, everyone comments on her riding ability."

He added: "She will be competing in the under nine's class and she's only seven so she's really ahead of her game."

In July Olivia also competed in the Royal International Horse Show where she rode show pony Dinsdale Sweet Harmony and came seventh, with Greyland's Little Rascal coming fourth in show hunting.

When competing at the Birmingham NEC on Saturday, Olivia will be asked to ride her horse in the open area while she is judged on the horse and presentation. Ten participants will then be chosen from the class to be judged again.

Speaking about her chances in the competition, Alick said: "There's over 20 in the class and they pull ten forward, so if Olivia gets in that ten then we've got a chance of getting a place."