PINT-SIZED pony rider Emily Irvine is preparing to compete at the country’s oldest horse show for the second time in two years – aged just four.

The Sherston Primary School pupil, from Foxley, who stepped into the famous Hickstead arena at last year’s Royal International Horse Show with eight-year-old Temple Druid Helio, earned a spot in this year’s national heritage leading-rein championship event at this summer’s show by qualifying at an event at the David Broome Event Centre, near Chepstow, last month.

Mum Alison will help her daughter by holding the leading rein and provide the voice commands for the horse – known as Barney – to perform during their routine.

She said: “It was such a huge thing for Emily to qualify last time but I’m just so happy because this proves that it wasn’t a fluke.

“It feels like it’s taken a lot of effort to qualify because we’ve been travelling all over the place to different qualifying events.

“She came second in Brockenhurst, but then went to Wales and won that one, which was the final event she could qualify at.

“We’re so excited for her and she can’t wait either. She’s going to be against girls as old as nine again but this is the elite and just getting there is such a big achievement.

“It’s great experience for when she moves on to showjumping because she’ll already be used to being out there.”

Alison has owned Barney, who was bred by Roger Barrett, since October 2012.

“The judges are looking for a pony that’s basically a robot. But Barney is great and he loves the big events,” she said.

“He’s got such a great temperament and we’re still in touch with the breeder, who says he’s going to breed Barney’s mum and dad again because of how well he’s done.

“You need to be able to trust the pony because your little girl is up there, and her being safe, which she always is with him, is the most important thing.”

The Royal International Horse Show runs from July 29-August 3.