Rider high in the saddle

Winner winner . . . James Rowlands, 12, of Wendonside, receives the Supreme Pony award in the working hunter pony section with a celebratory wreath from judge Dawn Kennedy at the West Otago A &P Show in Tapanui on Saturday. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

One Southland youngster has grown up alongside horses — and his performance at the weekend suggests it is paying dividends.

James Rowlands, of Wendonside, made a clean sweep at the West Otago A&P Show in Tapanui at the weekend with his mount Eastdale Llardro.

He won the champion group B show pony, supreme novice pony, champion paced and mannered pony and overall supreme pony showing classes.

He was ‘‘really excited’’ to win the awards.

‘‘I had to listen carefully to the judges when they were calling out what to do next,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought it was pretty cool to be chosen to win out of different local people.’’

He recently did well at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch with his ponies Eastdale Llardro, who was judged the supreme novice pony, and Lily.

Alongside his family, he has always had a close association with horses one way or another.

James has been involved with horses for about five years and ‘‘really loved’’ showing them. His mother Rebecca said his winnings were a ‘‘really cool achievement’’.

‘‘It’s cool to see how horses have remained in our lives. My mother rode a horse as a teen and I’ve been showing since I was 12 years old,’’ she said.

‘‘Tyler, James’s father, and his family bred horses in Balfour for many years as well.’’

‘‘It’s really cool to see James get into it more, especially now that it’s boosting his confidence . . . by getting some wins under his belt.’’

He said he was keen to continue doing shows and was preparing for the Wyndham A&P Show next weekend.

The 110th annual West Otago A&P Show attracted hundreds of rural eventgoers who enjoyed it while the sun was out.

Various community groups returned to raise funds for the West Otago area on the day.

As well as pony and cattle classes, ‘‘best lambs’’ and the classic grand parade featured in the show.

Originally known as the Kelso Show, the West Otago A&P Show had ‘‘grown over the years’’, organisers said.

West Otago A&P Society president Gay Stringer said the event was always a ‘‘great family day out’’.

‘‘We’re a bit down on numbers this year but the event is still an incredible day out,’’ she said.

‘‘People used to park around the show ring and have picnics out of their car boots.

‘‘Now it’s a day where people near and far come out to participate and catch up on one another after a busy spring season.’’