Chloe Vell - Macclesfield’s international dressage rider
- Credit: Yvette Craig
Chloe Vell from Macclesfield is targeting success on the catwalk and in the dressage arena to make sure she doesn’t share her father’s regrets, as Paul Mackenzie reports
Chloe Vell is determined not to let history repeat itself and to make sure she learns from her dad’s experience. Having played for England at under 17 and under 21 levels, Michael Vell was offered the chance to play basketball in America but chose instead to go to university and move into teaching.
Now he is helping international dressage rider Chloe decide on her life after school. ‘I can’t imagine not riding,’ the 16-year-old said. ‘I’ve done it for so long and I enjoy everything about it. My dad gave up the chance to play basketball in America and went to university instead and he regrets not following his dream. He loved basketball like I love riding so I think he can understand what I’m thinking.’
Chloe has ridden for Great Britain since she was 12-years-old and is aiming to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Alongside her rise to dressage stardom, Chloe is also making a name for herself on the catwalk.
She was scouted by a London model agency three years ago and has since taken part in photo shoots all over the world. Earlier this year Chloe was approached by Dutch clothing company Mooi en Lief to be one of their brand ambassadors as they look to expand their fashion range into riding wear.
‘Everything that has happened to me is great but it does all seem like it has come at once,’ Chloe said. ‘I was just a normal schoolgirl but then all this happened.
‘The modelling agency are really understanding and they know that most of the time I will say no to jobs.
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‘Modelling is possibly worse than its reputation – it comes with the territory, but the moment you walk into a room people judge you and there is a lot of pressure to be very thin. They just want clothes to hang off you, you’re just a mannequin and I’m not very keen on that side of things at all.
‘For me, doing sports, I’ve got to be so well nourished to be able to work on the yard and keep going all day – not just walk down a catwalk or stand in front of a camera – so I have got to keep my fitness levels up.’
She will certainly need plenty of energy in the next year as she juggles modelling, riding and studying for her A levels in biology, chemistry, maths and psychology at Withington School for Girls.
Her horses are kept at a yard in Gloucester, about 100 miles from Chloe’s home in Macclesfield, and she uses the regular two hour train journey to catch up on school work.
‘It is very demanding but I’ve been commuting since I was 14 so I’m used to it now,’ she added. ‘I want to do the best I can in my A levels and keep my options open for the future. I think I will take a few years out after school to do the riding and the modelling and see where it takes me.
‘Dressage is the one thing I definitely want to do – I’d do that for a career if I could and use the modelling as a way of getting some income. Then if all goes ok with my A levels I’ll be able to go to uni later.
‘My mum asks me quite a lot if riding a horse is a proper job because she doesn’t know anyone who has not followed the normal school, university, job route. But I do know people who ride horses for a living, so I know it is possible.’
Chloe, whose 15-year-old brother Spencer plays football and rugby, started riding with a pony bought for her when she was very young by parents Michael, who now teaches PE and geography in Bolton and Tracey, a GP in central Manchester. ‘When she finished on ponies we bought her a horse because she was so tall,’ Tracey said. Chloe is now 5ft 9.5 and attributes her height to her basketball playing dad.
Tracey said: ‘We have always ridden but never at anything more than amateur level. Once Chloe started riding she got very interested in dressage and was picked for the GB squad. Although she has done modelling shoots in New York, Spain, Italy riding is her thing. The agency are aware of the other things Chloe has going on, but she has found something she is a natural at.
‘My husband and I have normal, sensible jobs and we do wonder what she will do eventually and whether riding a horse for a living can be a career. She has done extremely well with her riding and modelling and with her results at school and we are very proud of her.’