Ready to ride . . . North Otago riders Maddy Neal (back left) and Paige Hardwick (back right) join (from left) coach Debbie Nelson, manager Debbie Eddington and teammate Amanda Shallard at the New Zealand eventing championships in Masterton recently. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Two North Otago riders were proud of their efforts at the New Zealand pony club eventing championships in Masterton.

Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Paige Hardwick (17) and St Kevin’s College pupil Maddy Neal (15) represented the Ashburton South Canterbury North Otago Pony Club at the recent event.

Riders competed in dressage, show jumping and cross-country.

This year’s competition was Paige’s fourth national event, while it was Maddy’s first time competing in equestrian at a national level.

Paige, on Ivanoff, placed fourth overall and was the leading secondary schools rider, while Maddy, on Zac, finished in the top 20.

“I was really stoked considering it was such a big event and a really competitive field,” Maddy said.

Both girls especially enjoyed the cross-country section of the championships.

“There was lots of room to have a bit of a hoon around,” Maddy said.

Despite their good performances, the pair believed there was room for improvement, especially in their dressage efforts.

“If I went back again, I would probably fix up my dressage,” Paige said.

“There’s a couple of marks in my dressage that I could’ve got better scores on and that’s just from my preparation.”

The most memorable moment for Paige was when she and Ivanoff were cheered on by spectators after the last round of showjumping.

“Pretty much everyone around the ring cheered for him. They fell in love with my horse.

“I was super happy that I was recognised not only by South Islanders but North Islanders as well.

“It was a really awesome experience. I had a lot of fun and it was really cool to go up as a team.”

Both girls were happy with their achievements and looked forward to tackling new challenges that lay ahead.

Their main focus now is training for the Springston Trophy on home turf in October.Running sport mediaNike Shoes