TEENAGE Wiltshire eventer Chelsea Pearce admits that she’ll be sad to close the book on her time with ponies but is hoping that she’s on the path to realising her dream of becoming a professional rider.
The 15-year-old, who lives in Shalbourne, near Marlborough, is fresh from her second-ever European Pony Championships but at the end of the year, Pearce will wave goodbye to pony competition as she makes the step up to junior level.
The youngster, who is a pupil at Stonar School, has already recruited six-year-old horse Djakota EB to help ease her into the next chapter of her fledgling career and Pearce says that she feels ready to take a stab at junior competition.
“I got my first pony when I was two years old and I haven’t looked back since,” said the young Great Britain international.
“I started off with show ponies and then, when I was about 11, I began competing and that’s when I discovered that my passion for eventing – my dream is to be a professional one day, after I’ve finished my education.
“We were lucky enough to discover an old pony named Catherston Nutsafe, who was supposed to help me get a bit of experience. I then also ended up getting Little Indian Feather, who’s a lot younger, and they’ve both been absolutely phenomenal.
“It’s going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to them because they’ve both been awesome. I’ve got one last big pony competition in October, which is at Weston Park (in Staffordshire), and that’ll be it after that.
“I’ve just gotten Djakota EB and I plan to try him out three times before the end of the year.
“It’s going to be different at junior level but I feel ready for it.”
As the daughter of former England footballer and current Nottingham Forest manager Stuart Pearce, the Shalbourne eventer was born with a strong sporting pedigree.
Earlier this month, Pearce represented Great Britain for the second time at the European Pony Championships and, despite suffering a fall with Nutsafe during the cross country round in Millstreet, Ireland, she still returned with a team silver medal.
She said: “My aim when I first trialled for the Europeans was to try and get selected this year. I never imagined that I’d get picked twice.
“This year, I actually got selected with both of my ponies and it was really difficult to choose one.
“The plan was for me to do the cross country and then report back to my team-mates to let them know how it was - unfortunately, we had our fall. “I still got to let them know that about the water splash and I think they were a bit nervous after what happened to me.
“It was my job to try and support them and they all did brilliantly to win us team silver – what happened was a shame but I was still really happy with our result.”