Beccles Youngster and her horse share special bond

Elle Mitchell,12, has only been riding for 3 years, but has already won a few major championships wi

Elle Mitchell,12, has only been riding for 3 years, but has already won a few major championships with her horse, George. - Credit: Nick Butcher

She's only been riding horses for three years but 12-year-old Elle Mitchell, from Beccles, has been taking the show jumping scene by storm with her young horse George.

The best friends have competed in competitions across the country and recently won their second major championship - but things could have been different when it was discovered that as a foal, George had the bacterial infection strangles.

'He was so poorly and it went on for six months and it was really heartbreaking,' said Penny Harris, Elle's mother. 'He's very lucky to be alive. Once he got better from that he got kicked in a field and cut a tendon so he had to have a year off. They didn't know if he would walk again.

'And last year he managed to slice the front of his face when he reared up in his stable.'

During the six-year-old's time recovering, Elle would spend time in his stable, sleeping there to make sure he was doing well. And now the two are inseparable.

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'Elle talks to him and tells him everything,' said Miss Harris. 'I have a special needs son so life is hard. She can't have people come over to stay so she's become very close to George.

'She gets up at 5am and looks after him and does everything. She adores him and he adores her. They're so funny together. She has a natural way with him.'

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It is this bond that has seen the two youngsters competing in national competitions, winning at the KBIS Junior Novice Winter Show Jumping competition in April before winning the 80cm jump and coming second in the 70cm jump at the UK Riders Challenge at Arena UK in Lincolnshire.

Miss Harris said: 'Elle won it against these amazing riders who have been doing it for years. She's young and George is still very young. It was just brilliant. She'll now be doing the Sunshine Tours for the Beccles and Bungay riding club

'It's being held at The All England Jumping Course so she's very excited. It's amazing they qualified. She's over the moon and can't believe it.

'She loves going all over the place and to local shows to train George.'

As well as show jumping, the Sir John Leman Student takes part in hunts organised by the Waveney Harriers every Saturday.

'They have taken her under their wing,' said Miss Harris. 'She doesn't ride George for the hunts because he's a show jumping horse.

'She's been awarded a badge this season for understanding the hunt and terminology. She just loves it.'

And the youngster, who recently gained her first sponsorship, is now ready for the other competitions she has coming up for the rest of the year.

She said: 'George is my best friend. I just want him to be happy and he just loves jumping.

'I'm so happy to be winning things with him.'

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