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Real-life Drama: I ride for my country!

Erin is an up-and-coming dressage supremo, and has her sights set on the next Olympic Games in Rio!

My name is Erin Williams and I ride for Great Britain on my gorgeous palomino mare, Dynasty! Dynasty – or Blondie as we call her at home – is eight years old with a white mane and tail and a golden coat. She is very talented and we are the current British Pony Dressage Champions!

I started riding when I was two on the family Shetland, Eddie. I have always loved horses and when I was little I wanted to be a show jumping singer, until I realised that I am a bad singer and not brave with jumping!

I started doing dressage when I was eight and joined BYRDS, which aims to introduce young riders to dressage and is open to anyone wanting to have a go. I have been to lots of BYRDS camps where I met other riders who also liked ponies and dressage! My best friend Imi and I joined BYRDS together with our ponies (River and Badger), and one of my best moments was when we heard that we had both been picked to compete for England in a friendly competition in Ireland when we were 10.

MY PONY OF A LIFETIME

I am very lucky to have lovely ponies to ride but the one who will always be my special friend is Danny Boy B, a stunning chestnut pony who I got from Holland when I was 12. Danny and I won just about everything together and we went to two European Championships for Great Britain. It was one of the worst days of my life when I found out that Danny Boy B had a cancerous tumour and needed to be put to sleep. It was just before Christmas 2011 and I cried for weeks.

I still miss him and think about him every day but I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to ride such an amazing pony. I have DB engraved on the buttons of my competition jacket for luck and to remind me of
everything he has taught me.

IT’S NOT ALL PLAY!

I usually ride before school around 6am. I feel fresher in the mornings so ride better, and then I shower and go to school wide awake!

My trainer, Sonia Webster Baines, has taught me since I was eight. She teaches me three times a week, or more if I have a big competition coming up. She is one of my mum’s best friends so we have good fun together. When Sonia helps me warm up at shows we have a walkie-talkie system so that we can talk together while I am riding. Sonia often calms my nerves and makes me laugh by saying cheeky things or singing down the microphone which, luckily, only I can hear!

Working with horses is not always glamorous, especially in the winter. It can be hard getting up at 6am when it’s cold and dark outside. I try to help with the mucking out as much as possible but really enjoy the show preparation – bathing and plaiting – much more! My mum runs the yard and plans the shows. My dad is brilliant at driving the horsebox and likes to come to all my shows. He’s also chief boot polisher! My 16-year-old brother Connor prefers rugby to horses, so if he comes to a show he is usually put in charge of barbecuing!

BEING PART OF TEAM GB

For the past three years I have been on the Great Britain international squad, firstly with Danny Boy B then recently with Dynasty. There are usually 10 riders on the squad and we meet at weekends to train. It can be quite nerve-wracking when the three team selectors are there watching us!

Being part of Team GB is very special and I am allowed to wear the Union Jack badge on my competition jacket and saddle cloth. When we are at an international competition all the riders decorate the stables with Union Jack flags and bunting, and we have got lots of extra stuff this year because of the Jubilee and Olympics! Even my chihuahua, Daisy, has a Union Jack tee shirt!

My proudest moment so far was when Danny and I won the British International competition at Addington and we had the national anthem played for us, followed by a lap of honour to
“We are the Champions”. It was amazing and my whole family cried!

THE FUTURE

I now have a horse called Fleurie, ready for when I’m 16 and too old to compete ponies internationally. It has been a big step for me to learn flying changes and ride at a higher level but we are doing really well and I am enjoying the challenge.

Fleurie and I have had an amazing first season together and are unbeaten in Britain so far, which has resulted in being part of the junior international prime squad!
One day I hope to ride at the Olympics but as I need to be a senior rider (over 18) I had to make do with just watching in 2012!

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