Cousins Ava Harrington (10) and Alyssa Greening (15) will pack their bags and horse floats this September, en route to Sydney to compete in the Australian Equestrian Interschool Series 2022 National Showjumping finals.

Ava, from Nambrok-Denison Primary School, has been riding horses since she was three, competing in her first competition at just four-years-old, and is following in her mother Sam Harrington’s footsteps, competing in the National Showjumping finals.

At the VEIS Showjumping Qualifier at Riddells Creek in early June, young Ava qualified not one but two horses for the upcoming national competition, where she will be competing in the 90 centimetre competition and 80cm competition.

While Ava can’t pick her favourite competition to compete in, she confessed that she did have a favourite horse to jump.

“At the moment, it is Razz,” Ava said.

Ava with horses Razz and Chloe.

“She is just more honest.”

Ava will be jumping Razz and another horse, Chloe at the Nationals in Sydney.

Although Ava has participated in many contests over the years, this is her first time jumping in the Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships, only 12 years after her mother.

Nerves aren’t a bother for the young superstar, with Ava saying she is “excited” to be going to Sydney for the first time.

For 15-year-old Alyssa Greening, from Sale College, this will be her fourth national event and second time competing in the Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships National Showjumping.

Alyssa competed in the Australian Interschool Championships in 2018, and has previously competed nationally in the pentathlon.

At two-and-a-half years old, still wobbly on her own two feet, Alyssa got her very first horse, Spinner, and has been riding ever since.

Alyssa with horse Crikey Mick.

In September, Alyssa will be competing in the 1.2-metre secondary Showjumping Competition in the Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships on her current favourite horse, Crikey Mick.

“Crikey is definitely my favourite,” Alyssa said.

In the lead-up to the Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships, Alyssa and Ava are putting in the hours, practising at every chance, between school and other sporting commitments.

“Really, you are training as much as you can during the week,” Alyssa says.

“At least five days a week leading up to a competition.”

While these cousins share much in common, their time preference for training is the polar opposite, with young Ava waking up to train in the early hours of the morning and Alyssa powering through into the night after school.

Ava and Alyssa are two of the five riders from the region headed to the Victorian Equestrian Interschool Series, joined by Harry Goult from Gippsland Grammar, Jack Eastly from Nagle College, Bairnsdale and Emily Wagstaff from Briagolong Primary School.

These two young women ooze with talent and the potential to be some of the greatest showjumpers in the country, posing the question, what makes a good showjumper?

“A lot of practice, hours in the saddle,” Alyssa said.

“Lots of concentration,” Ava said.

When Alyssa and Ava aren’t at clinics getting coached by the best in the region, including former Olympian Gavin Chester, Phil Lever and Scottie Barclay, Ava’s mum and Alyssa’s aunt, Sam Harrington, who has an impressive showjumping history, trains the girls.

From now until September, Alyssa and Ava have their heads down, and hands wrapped around the reins in preparation for the National Showjumping competitions.