Dances with horses

HORSE WHISPERER: Alisha Griffiths and her pony Barney at the Interschool Nationals in Toowoomba.
HORSE WHISPERER: Alisha Griffiths and her pony Barney at the Interschool Nationals in Toowoomba. Oz Shotz

DRESSAGE: Chinchilla's Alisha Griffiths is no stranger to hard work, at just 14 years old she's a dressage champion.

When her family decided to make the move to Australia from England, Alisha only agreed on the proviso she that she would get to ride horses - the rest is history.

Alisha has spent this year as part of the 2017 Queensland Young Riders Squad and achieved remarkable success.

She won Reserve Overall Champion at Medium level, and Overall Advanced Champion in Advanced level, at the Australian Youth National Championship, and placed second and third in her tests at the Interschool Nationals in Toowoomba last week, taking out third overall on an aggregate score system.

It's hard to believe her pony Barney almost met his fate at the knackery, winning multiple awards himself including a Grand Champion Dressage Champion Award.

Alisha's favourite event of the year was performing for Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin.

"That was pretty surreal in a way,” Alisha said.

But success takes hard work, including hours of training each week.

"Trying to teach your horse a new movement is hardest, because obviously the horse is going to have no idea... it's all through slight movements of your body... it's like another language,” she said.

Alisha's last competition this year is the State Pony Championships in Toowoomba next month, and she already has her sights set on the 2018 Queensland Young Riders Squad.

It's lots of work for what her mum said started as a hobby.

"We're very, very proud. We never thought she'd ever be this good,” Mrs Griffiths said.

Alisha's success is also due to the dedication of her coach Shelley Callaghan, and community support including from Chinchilla Landmark and Pryde's Easifeed.

And Alisha's potential career in the industry looks particularly exciting after her family became Australian citizens a few weeks ago.

"If she rides internationally, she could ride for Australia which would be amazing,” Mrs Griffiths said.

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