SCHOOLGIRL riders, who are used to competing against each other on the dressage circuit, have pooled their talent as a team to qualify for national finals.

The Barnard Castle School Equestrian Team had a spectacular day in the National School’s County Championships qualifier.

The first team, consisting of Charlotte Martin, 17, of Stainton, Evie Hole-Todd 14, of Richmond, Ruby Todd, 15, of Richmond and Ruby Smith, 13, of Winston won the dressage competition and will now represent County Durham at the National Schools’ Equestrian Association championships in Buckinghamshire in April.

Dressage is a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an artform, sometimes pursued solely for the sake of horse mastery. Riders are awarded points by judges for their equestrian prowess tested through a series of manoeuvres.

In the team competition the Barney girls came first with team captain Charlotte claiming the top spot in the individual competition on her horse Volatis Diva.

Evie took 3rd place in the individual scores on her pony Toffee, while Ruby Smith was 7th on Bailey and Ruby Todd 9th on Colleen.

The school’s second team finished third in the County Qualifiers with individual placings including Ruby Smith, 10th on Nero, Ruby Todd, 13th, on Prince, Kate Charlton, 14, of Northallerton,14th on Rose and Tally Hayward, 12, of Ovington, 15th, on Mickey.

The competition, staged at Northallerton Equestrian Centre, attracted more than 140 competitors from around 40 schools from across the country.

Charlotte said: “It was a long hard day but well worth it. All the girls get on really well which helps and rode beautifully. They are very mature and experienced riders for their age.

“We normally ride against each other outside of school so it was nice to be on the same team this time.”

In the individual, Class 1 competition, which pitted the girls against all riders in all counties, Charlotte secured the highest score of the day on Diva with 73.64%.

Ruby Smith was 4th on Bailey and 8th on Nero II, Kate was 13th on Springpark Rose.

In Class 2 Charlotte was 1st and qualified for the National Championships on Solaris Dwenqua.

“We all plan to train together in the run up to the nationals,” she said. “Diva can live up to her name but likes me and loves being in the arena and working hard.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “The girls embody what we strive to engender in all our students; a passion for activities, commitment and individual talent coupled with the ability to be a team-player. Everyone at school is tremendously proud of their achievements and with how they conduct themselves.”