A SCHOOLGIRL eventer has her sights set on the Olympics after excelling on a horse deemed ‘not good enough’ to compete.

Keeva Johnson and her horse Bennie finished third in the UK at the Cornbury House International Horse Trails in Oxford at the weekend, competing against the best combinations in the country.

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The placing puts the16-year-old from Aldbrough St John in a promising position for selection for the European Championships next year.

And Keeva has even higher aspirations, saying that Olympics qualification is her ultimate dream.

Her achievements so far are all the more remarkable as Bennie was given to her by her uncle Barry, Chairman of the South Durham Hunt, who was told the horse was unlikely to reach top eventing standards.

Keeva’s dad, Kevin explains: “He (Barry) bought him to go hunting on because they said he wasn’t going to be good enough as an eventer.

“But there’s been a massive amount of hard work put in over the last three years and they’ve proved them wrong.

“You have to get 61 points to become an advanced eventer and Keeva has just done that at the weekend, which is an amazing achievement for a 16-year-old to be able to do that.”

Keeva, who attends Barnard Castle School, added: “He is a lovely-natured horse.

“He started with no points, but he is just amazing, he has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of time but he has been completely worth it.”

Keeva, who first started riding aged nine, says she ‘absolutely loves’ working with her horses - of which Bennie is one of three - and hopes one day to run her own yard.

Her current ambition is to qualify for next year’s European Championships and maybe even the Olympic Games in the future.

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“That’s the biggest dream,” she says.

Keeva juggles her riding and training around her studies, having just started the first year of her A-levels.

She rides every night and is coached by Jane Graham who lives nearby, as well as receiving support from British Eventing.

Bennie, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse, has now finished this eventing season but Keeva will be back in the saddle on her younger horse, Diego Roberts, competing at Allerton Park in Knaresborough at the weekend.

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