AN ENDURANCE rider has qualified for the national championships after just a year taking part in the sport.

Nicola Lewis will compete at the Royal Welsh Showground on September 30 on her horse Tallie.

The 38-year-old, from Middleton St George, near Darlington, has covered more than 180km in total in competitive events through the year.

She has now qualified for the championships and is hoping for sponsorship to help her get there.

Endurance riding is a sport which sees rider and horse cover longer distances of over 30km.

They travel at a speed to between 10 and 15 kilometres per hour.

The rider has to make sure the horse is in excellent physical condition, and the horse is monitored during the event.

Ms Lewis said: "This is the first year I have competed so I am classed as a novice.

"While there are people from all over the UK who have qualified for the championships there are only four from the North-East, and I'm not even sure if the others are able to go.

"I started endurance riding after someone suggested Tallie might be good at it.

"He is 18 now and when I got him he wasn't fit, but I have really brought him on and worked hard with him.

"I've had him checked over for arthritis and other conditions but he's in really good condition.

"He gets spooked a lot when I ride him out on shorter hacks but when we do these rides he really seems to enjoy it.

"I love it because you get to see some beautiful countryside.

"You ride at a trot and then when the path opens out you canter along."

She said she was hoping to get some local sponsorship to help her towards the cost of the national championships, as she needs an overnight stay, stabling for her horse and transport costs for both her and Tallie, a 14.3 hands-high Welsh cob.

"It's going to be expensive - I think about £1,000," she said.

"I'm going to have to raise some money towards the cost and I thought it might be a good thing for a local business or two to sponsor me. I can wear something with their logo to give them some publicity."

Anyone businesses or individuals wanting to sponsor Ms Lewis can email her on