Equestrian: Teenager's hard work reaps rewards

Brittany Whelan (17) with her horses, Repias Super Blond (left) and Kabo So Far, at her Brighton...
Brittany Whelan (17) with her horses, Repias Super Blond (left) and Kabo So Far, at her Brighton home. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Brittany Whelan's show jumping career is really starting to take off.

The 17-year-old Kaikorai Valley College pupil won the New Zealand grand prix showjumping title on her pony, Repias Super Blond, in Christchurch during Waitangi weekend.

She also finished second on her other pony, Kabo So Far.

It was an impressive effort and good reward for the teenager, who puts a lot of hard work into training her ponies.

"It gets hard, especially in the winter when it's cold and wet," she said.

Brittany rides most days and feeds and looks after them.

She started riding as a "2 or 3-year-old" and has won two major titles this season, also coming first at the South Island championship in Waimate in November.

The next big meeting coming up is the Pony of the Year event in Hastings in March.

Technically, the horse wins that title but it would be a big feather in Brittany's cap all the same, and also her last opportunities to compete in the pony category.

"It is the biggest show in New Zealand so it will be cool.

''It would be awesome to win Pony of the Year but I'll just do the best I can.

''The North Islanders are all really good competitors."

Once riders turn 17 they have to move on to horses at the end of the season.

That means the Whelan family will have to sell Brittany's two ponies so they can buy two horses.

That is heartbreaking for Brittany.

She has had Repias Super Blond for two years and Kabo So Far for three years and has become attached to them.

"I see them every day and spend a lot of time with them so . . . ," she said trailing off.

The Whelans hope to get about $30,000 each for the ponies but a good horse could cost up to $45,000.

It is an expensive sport but the Whelan family are "horsey people" and enjoy going to the shows.

As for Brittany's future, she just wants to do the best she can and has not set any specific goals.

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