Leah and Misty chosen as the face of brand

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An Ilkeston schoolgirl and her pony have beat off thousands of others to win a contract as the face of a horse food company.

Leah Smedley, 10, and her pony Misty were photographed by the officialOlympic Team GB photographer this week for Dodson and Horrell’s new national marketing campaign.

Granby Junior School pupil Leah, who has autism, said: “ Riding has helped me with loads of things and has given me loads of confidence.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was the winner of the competition, me and my mum were ecstatic, I can’t wait to see the pictures.”

Her mum, Jemma, said: “When Leah was younger we were told she would never be able to communicate properly so this competition win will give her a massive confidence boost.

“It’s been a really difficult year for us so that makes the fact that Leah has been chosen as the winner even more special.

“We nearly lost Leah in June, she had three hemhorrages after she had her tonsils out.”

Leah has been horse riding for four years at Cavendish Bridge Stables.

Her mum Jemma said: “Although Leah sometimes struggles around people and has help at school when she’s with animals she’s a different person.

“Horse riding has been the best medication we could have asked for and her instructor Dawn Webster has been amazing.”