AN AMATEUR horse rider has secured her place in a prestigious show celebrating equine excellence.

Caitlin Gill has qualified for the Horse of the Year Show aged just 13 by winning the national SEIB Search for a Star working pony class.

Caitlin, from Hurworth, Darlington, competed with her pony, San Bernadino, at the event held in Leicestershire last week, during her school holidays from St Frances Xavier School, in Richmond.

The 13-year-old's proud mother, Lisa Gill, said: “It is unbelievable, we didn’t even think they would be placed.

"We bought Iris as she is known at home to compete in showjumping and working hunter pony classes.

"She had done nothing when we bought her around eighteen months ago and my little girl is now over the moon with her.”

Each SEIB Search for a Star qualifier holds classes for working ponies and horses, riding horse hacks, show hunters and cobs.

SEIB marketing manager, Nicolina Mackenzie, said: "The Search for a Star finals are now in their 20th year at the Horse of the Year Show and are something that a huge number of amateur showing riders aspire to.

"The standard of competition increases year-on-year and the true amateur spirit of the series is something we are very proud of.

"We are delighted to see these talented amateur riders going to the show."