MADDIE KEMPPAINEN has taken a step towards emulating her idol Mary King by qualifying to ride at next year's Badminton Horse Trials.
Maddie, 15, from South Molton, won the British Eventing (BE) 100 under-18 area final at Bricky in Dorset.
That earned her a place in the 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships at Badminton next summer.
The championships give amateur and young riders the chance to compete at the world-famous trials alongside the big names of the sport.
Maddie, who said she hoped to become an Olympian like London 2012 silver medallist King, said: "I rode at Badminton in 2008 and 2009 in the Shetland pony racing.
"It was really exciting to watch (the three-day eventing) and I never thought I would make it there myself."
Only first place at Bricky was good enough to qualify and Maddie, riding her horse Silver Osprey, won with a total of 34.00 points, beating George Bolt by 1.1 points.
The BE 100 category is one step below novice level. Riders completed the eventing disciplines of dressage, showjumping and cross country on one day.
Maddie was not among the leaders after the dressage but she made up for that with clear rounds in the showjumping and cross country. Only four of the 12 riders went clear in cross country.
"I like the cross country because you get to gallop and you have the obstacles as well," said Maddie who has been riding Silver Osprey, also known as Ossie, for about a year.
"I've been riding since I was little, I don't know what age I was when I started.
"My sister rode Ossie for about two years. Now I ride him every day in a local farmer's field."
Maddie, a pupil at South Molton Community College, counts Witheridge-based eventer Tim Cheffings alongside King as a hero.
She and Ossie will be back in action this weekend at Calmsden in Gloucestershire.