Tiny Te Whakatōhea teen riding high in elite show jumping
Leeshelle Small is only pint-sized, but she's making huge strides in the elite world of show jumping both here in Aoteaoroa and overseas.
She was named the top under 15-year-old rider at the Children's World FEI Games in Belgium last year at just 13 years old, and is continuing to impress.
Leeshelle's love of horses started early and is one she shares with her parents Geoffrey and Aria, well-known figures in harness racing for nearly 30 years. In 2008 Geoffrey trained the NZ Cup Trotting champ, Changeover.
Leeshelle has fond memories of growing up on the farm and spending countless hours at the racetrack.
"I really enjoyed it because every morning I'd run around and see the horses. My favourite one was the stallion aisle, we had really quiet stallions and I'd hop on them."
NZ Equestrian coach Jeff McVean coaches our very best and sees real potential in his young charge.
"Leeshelle has a lot of talent, we forget how young she is. She's had international experience and she has a couple of young horses coming through that can go to the next step."
Hailing from the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whakatōhea, Leeshelle 's dream is to one day ride at the Olympics - but first there's another trip overseas representing New Zealand, the Friendship Games in Germany.
It's an invite-only event for the top riders around the world, and another opportunity for this pint-sized star to showcase her talent on the world stage.