TEENAGER Amber Boiles defied the odds to win a two-day Endurance GB competition in Wales on her horse Ignacio Zuloaga – also known as ‘Wilson’.
The 14-year-old, from Leamington, claimed the prestigious trophy in her first season of endurance riding at the Red Dragon Festival of Endurance.
Amber beat 14 other competitors to win the annual Dragons Claw Challenge event – a 52km ride over two days which covers steep terrain and tricky conditions and forms part of Endurance GB’s national calendar.
Amber said: ““Wilson is very fit so I thought I would enter us both for the two day Dragons Claw Challenge.
“I’m very lucky in so many ways. I’m inspired so much by other riders in this sport and the amount of care that goes into looking after the horses, maybe one day I will be able to represent my country in the sport I love.”
During the Awards ceremony, much to the surprise and delight of Ness (coach) and Lee (mum), Amber’s name was read out twice, first for winning the Dragons Claw Challenge and then a second time for winning the Young Rider trophy for the entire event.
Amber faces the additional challenge of a heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot which occasionally forces her to stop and look after her physical condition.
And she suffered an occurrence of this on day one of the event, halfway through the two and a half hour ride.
Amber added: “I had to stop for a moment, and another rider asked if I was okay.
“I was exhausted when I got back, but I was not going to let that stop me for competing in Day 2, Wilson is a very special horse and I wanted to complete the challenge for him.
“When I was born, my parents were told by doctors that I’d never be an athlete and would never make it to the Olympics.
“The condition can limit what a person can physically do. There are times that I have had to stop, but luckily this doesn’t happen often for me.”
Amber has been riding since the age of three and previously competed at local show jumping events.
She purchased 16hh ex-racehorse Ignacio Zuloaga (aka Wilson) in November last year and learned that he had been retrained by previous owner, Vanessa (Ness) Woodhouse to compete at Endurance.
Thus she began her journey in Endurance competition, starting with a 26km Graded event at Shuckburgh Hall in April.
Wilson achieved a Grade 1 – the highest Grade for fitness – and they were placed an individual fifth based on performance formula (a calculation based on speed and horse fitness).
And Amber hopes her success and enjoyment of the sport can inspire others to get involved.
She said: “I had not really heard much about Endurance before but Ness encouraged me to come along to an event and see what it was all about.
“I was hooked after the first ride and have since taken part in a number of team events.
“A particular highlight was being part of the Hearts ’n’ Cromwell team who won the inter-regionals for the first time in 10 years co-cheffed by Ness and Esther Groen (groenequestrian.co.uk).
“That was pretty special.”
For more information about Endurance events, which include pleasure rides and Graded Rides across multiple distances, visit Endurance GB’s website at: www.endurancegb.co.uk