Ford schoolgirl achieving show jumping success

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A young girl who suffers from dyslexia is improving her short term memory skills while winning trophies with best friend Prince Charlie.

Twelve-year-old Harriet Branch from Ford has enjoyed a string of show jumping successes this year with equine pal Charlie, her 13.2hh Connemara pony.

A dedicated member of the North Northumberland Hunt Pony Club, Harriet has recently returned from Bishop Burton where she competed in the British Show Jumping North Club Championships, achieving a commendable fourth overall in her class.

Earlier this year she won the NNHPC trophy for highest club member at the one day event at Pallinsburn, adding to a number of trophies and rosettes gained across the country throughout 2014.

Harriet is a pupil of Nunnykirk centre for Dyslexia, and like many children with dyslexia she has difficulties with short term memory. But her relationship with Charlie and her passion for show jumping, together with the specific learning techniques devised at Nunnykirk, are helping her overcome these problems.

“Harriet spends a huge amount of time with Charlie, schooling in the arena, practising jumping courses and doing dressage routines,” her dad Paul explained.

“The assimilation of movement and flowing patterns helps overcome the short term memory problems associated with her dyslexia.”

Harriet spends as much time with Charlie as she can, putting in hours of practise at weekends and after school.

“It is with the goodwill of Lord and Lady Joicey that they allowed us to build a floodlit outdoor arena for Harriet to practise in,” Paul said. “This enables her to practice in the winter when she returns from school. When she is not with Charlie she spends her time watching horse programmes and sometimes it is a battle to get her to do homework!

“She also spends time with her yellow labrador Buddy, who she has trained to do show jumping.”

Harriet’s aim is to compete at Badminton and the Horse Of The Year Show in Birmingham, and she dreams of one day representing her country at the Olympics.

“Hopefully the partnership of Charlie and Harriet will continue to achieve success and demonstrate to other dyslexic children that with determination they can overcome their problems,” Paul added.

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