A SKIPTON woman's "dreams have come true" after Great Britain earned a team gold medal at the European Eventing Championships in August.

Ruth Asquith, 24, a former Skipton Girls High School student, served as a groom for a horse ridden by international event rider Nicola Wilson.

But it has been a long road for Ruth, who grew up in Skipton, and had no experience of caring for eventing horses before Nicola offered her a job 18 months ago.

Ruth, who got an honours degree from the University of Central Lancashire, trained as a veterinary nurse at Myerscough College and eventually got a job at Kingsway Vets in Skipton.

Before she got her job at Kingsway, she did some practical training at Carlisle University and while there took riding lessons and groomed for a rider.

This experience helped her earn a job working for Nicola Wilson, who had experience of competing in eventing at the Olympics.

Ruth said: "I never thought I would get the job with Nicola, having no experience working on a yard but I said in my interview that although I knew very little about event grooming I was keen to learn and would always give 110 per cent.

"At first I worked on the yard at home, mucking out and doing general care of the horses whilst attending local small competitions as the other grooms' assistant.

"I progressed this year to exercising the horses, attending major three-day events as a groom and then attending the European Eventing Championships as sole groom in charge of Berry."

Nicola rode Berry, a Dutch-bred 11 year old horse at the championships, which were held from August 17 to 20 in Strzegom, Poland.

"I was the first person in 13 years to groom for Nicola at a championship who hadn't been her head girl Lynn Swift.

"Lynn trained me since the day I arrived at Nicola's. She set the standard so high, I wouldn't be the groom I am without her help and guidance."

At the championships, Nicola served as the anchor woman of the British team of four, as she an Berry took part in dressage, cross country and showjumping events.

"Being the last to go is usually the role with the most pressure," said Ruth. "And Berry, whose competition name is Bulana, worked really hard and was a consummate professional. She's an incredible horse and a little gem.

"During the competition I took sole care Berry, plaiting her, mucking her out, brushing her, hand grazing her, tacking her up, lunging her and cuddling her, which is very important as she can get nervous."

The hard work by Nicola, Berry, Ruth and the eventing rider's whole team paid off, earning Great Britain a gold medal.

"Standing in the main arena during prize giving, holding Berry while the national anthem played was the proudest moment of my life," said Ruth. "I feel like a little girl whose dreams have come true.

"I cannot thank Nicola enough for believing in me and trusting me to take care of Berry at such an important championship. It was the best week of my life".