After securing three tickets to the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships, 13-year- old Lily Payne never imagined she would come away having been crowned the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle to Music Gold Champion.
But she claimed the title, along with two top-three placings.
A pupil at Boston High School, Leverton-based Lily was riding Ann Savage’s 11-year-old mare Beckhouse Cancara (Cara).
Based at the family home of Sheepgate Equestrian has no doubt given Lily a great start to her dressage career as she’s been heavily involved in the day-to-day life of running and riding in high-profile competitions.
Trained by mum, Sarah Payne and Daryll Thickitt, Lily spends her spare time training at home and has been riding long before she could walk.
Additionally, the Children on Horses Squad training has proved invaluable to help the pair further their career.
Having qualified for three championship classes, the partnership excelled throughout the week to top three 68 per cent-plus scores, putting them firmly in the top three for each class.
“The first day we arrived mum was helping some of her clients with their warm-up so I had a chance to walk around and soak in the atmosphere,” Lily said. “Luckily Cara doesn’t get excitable away at competitions so we just lightly worked her in preparation for the two classes the following day so not to tire her.”
Contesting the Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary Bronze Round first, the pair scored a whopping 69.94 per cent giving them a firm place in the second round where they finished second with 68.85 per cent.
Despite having to ride a total of three tests that day, the duo didn’t falter and rode a foot perfect Novice Freestyle test to take the championship title along with the elusive rug and sash in the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold with 73.30 per cent.
Riding to music that Lily had personally chosen herself, Olly Murs’ Dance With Me Tonight, the floorplan was carefully put together by Julie Geraghty from Equivisions.
Not wanting to end their streak there, described as riding for every mark by Sarah, Lily and Cara then went on to take third in the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver with 73.14 per cent, riding against some well-known names in the equestrian society.
Throughout the next couple of weeks, the pair will continue to put their time into training and have their sights set firmly on a spot at the Europeans.