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National stage for local horse handler

Monday, 18th April, 2011

HORSE COMPETITION: Mercedes Tonkin (11) with Bragetta Cast A Spell On Me showing her horsemanship skills. HORSE COMPETITION: Mercedes Tonkin (11) with Bragetta Cast A Spell On Me showing her horsemanship skills.

Champion miniature horse handler Mercedes Tonkin is all set for her latest challenge when she competes at the Nationals this week.

The 11-year-old is the only local competing in the Miniature Horse Association Nationals where she will go up against other children from across Australia.

The event will also host a New Zealand Youth Challenge and Mercedes will be one of five children representing Australia.

In fact she has a total of 19 events to compete in, along with the Youth Challenge events which will add another six events to her weekend.

Also making the trip will be her team of horses: Bragett Red Gold, Bragetta Cast A Spell On Junior and Traybyrne Icey Gangster.

Mercedes has been involved with horses almost since she was born; her grandparents bred miniature horses and own the Satin Lodge Miniature Horse Stud.

Despite her age Mercedes has already tasted success in competition.

In 2005 at the Nationals in Tamworth she won the Under 6 Junior Handler Championship and the following year, in Tatura, she was champion once again.

In 2009 she was awarded the USA Judges Junior Award.

In the past year Mercedes has been successful in her performance classes and handler classes winning Championships in Adelaide and Dubbo. 

She has been a stand out in the ring having attracted the judges attention at every show, according to her grandmother Sally Algate. 

Her mother Zoey said Mercedes has been involved with miniature horses for about eight years.

"She loves it," Mrs Tonkin said.

"Anything to do with horses she really enjoys."

The Miniature Horse Association Nationals will be held at the Sydney Equestrian Centre from April 20-24.

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