FELICITY Atkinson is jumping to the top of the Australian equestrian scene after becoming one of just 19 riders in the country to be selected in the National Young Rider Squad.
The 20-year-old was one of only two South Australian representatives in the squad, with selection based on results from the National Young Rider Series and identification from the National Selection Panel.
The squad does not compete together, but is an annual acknowledgment of the nation’s best riders.
Felicity said it felt really good to be recognised on a national scale.
“It was really surprising that someone from country South Australia could be picked for the squad,” she said.
“I’ve been riding forever … I started before I could walk.”
The Port Paterson rider, who was picked in the SA Young Rider Squad two years ago, received the national selection after winning the 2016 South Australian Showjumping Senior Speed Championship.
Felicity is trained by her father Robert and got involved in the sport through her parents, who both still ride today.
She said she trains most days, with a lot of the training based around forming a strong relationship with her horse, Ronley Leonardo.
“It’s all about developing a partnership with your horse, so it’s kind of like being on a team,” Felicity said.
“If you don’t develop a good partnership, you won’t go very well.”
There are two equestrian seasons each year, with Felicity competing in the current SA winter/spring season after taking part in the summer/autumn campaign.
Next year Felicity will become a senior rider and she has set herself the long-term goal of competing in World Cups in the future.
She will be competing at the Royal Adelaide Show for a week in September this year, going up against some of the world’s best competitors.
Felicity is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to test herself against riders that she wants to compete against on a regular basis.
“I’m doing Section 2 at the Show and some of the World Cup riders go in that section, so I’m getting there, but I’m just not quite at the World Cup level yet,” she said.
The horse-riding superstar is studying a Diploma in Childcare, but hopes to make a living off her equestrian talents.
“I want to always be able to do it (equestrian) and I hope that one day I can do it as a living, but you have to have a lot of money for that,” Felicity said.
Felicity was extremely grateful for the support she has received from her major sponsor Hennessy and Co Saddlery.