Stradbroke freelance horse trainer closes in on European finals dream

Laura Smith, freelance dressage instructor from Stradbroke, has qualified for this year's European Dressage Championships in Belgium. ANL-150916-184507009

Laura Smith, freelance dressage instructor from Stradbroke, has qualified for this year's European Dressage Championships in Belgium. ANL-150916-184507009

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A freelance dressage horse rider and trainer from Stradbroke says it is an ‘unbelievable feeling’ to represent her country after qualifying for a prestigious European tournament this October.

Laura Smith, 27, an Otley College graduate currently living in Mill Lane, was one of just a handful of UK competitors to reach the finals of the MCI Iberian Dressage Masters European Championship in Belgium, after blazing through the qualifiers with her ten-year-old horse Almansor earlier this year.

“It’s just unbelievable really. To think that just five years ago, I couldn’t even ride the horse,” she told the Diss Express.

“Almansor has not been the easiest of horses, so I’m thrilled that we have qualified to compete.”

Ms Smith, who has been riding since the age of seven, added she was very happy with how far she had come, having spent years building her way up by working in various yards for relatively little pay, and also balancing her training business with a part-time role at a haulage company to make ends meet.

“It has been very difficult. I have had times when I couldn’t afford to compete or look after the horses exactly the way I wanted. I have just had to work as hard as I can,” she said.

Since acquiring her horse, a purebred Lusitano, in 2010, Ms Smith has regularly entered competitions, including the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the International Lusitano Breed Show, the Royal London Show and the Suffolk Show, and now has lessons with some of the nation’s top trainers, with the aim of taking part in the premier dressage leagues.

She is currently teaching local horse and rider combinations. For information, contact 01379 384313, email laurasmithdressage@gmail.com or see www.laurasmithdressage.co.uk