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EquiExpo at Detling's Kent County Showground firmly in the saddle to success

By Alan Smith

It’s new and its arrival at the Kent Showground yesterday attracted hundreds of visitors and scores of horses.

The Equi-Expo South East, which will ne be an annual event, looks set to become one of the major attractions on the equine calender.

Rui Campeao held the crowds in thrall

There was something for everyone who likes horses, from dressage events to miniature ponies, to retail stands selling everything to do with riding - including paddock-fencing, rugs, hand-crafted jewellery made from horsehair and, for those who seek the ultimate fashion, jewel-encrusted stirrups.

Leanne Hollands from Equine Elegance shows off her jewel-encrusted stirrups

There were master-class demonstrations by top local and national riders. Among them was Francesca Sternberg, who runs Sterling Quarter Horses at the Bodiam International Arena, and who has been competing on American Quarter Horses for more than 25 years and has been a member of Worlds Equestrian Games Reining team for all the last three games.

Also present was Sonny Hillier who competes at international Horse Driving Trials, and who, with his horse Ranno, is in a strong position to secure a place in the 2014 Single Horse World Championships.

There were displays by the Kingsley Show Team, run by mother and daughter Alex and Georgia Aungier, and a masterclass by Portuguese dressage rider Rui Campeao.

Oliver Walter has overcome adversity to compete

Proving that dressage is a sport that anyone can succeed in was Oliver Walter, who suffers from Crones Disease and has had to undergo major surgery, but has still competed in the winter and regional championships and has won a place with the National Dressage Training Young Professionals.

Grace Jarvis taking part in Oliver Walter's dressage master-class

Similarly Simon Blight has set aside the sudden onset of multiple sclerosis in his mid-thirties. Mr Blight who has been riding since the age of three, now competes in the para-equestrian classes, winning a first place in 2013 National Para Club Championships. He is hoping to compete in the next Paralympics.

Sophia Kell made friends with Bobby the miniature Shetland pony

The show was a joint venture between the Kent County Agricultural Society, which was keen to build on the success of its equine section at the annual County Show, and RAMSAK Ltd, a 600-member rural and farming co-operative based in Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth.

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