Tag Archive: showing

  1. HOYS mini champion pony dies of a heart attack

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    A little mare described as the “best pony in world” died suddenly of a heart attack last Sunday (July 17). Barkway Magic Moment (Mo) had been loaned by Robert and Sarah Walker for their three-year-old daughter, Izzy.

    “Mo introduced Izzy to showing in the most amazing style, having qualified for the Royal International and HOYS at their first attempt,” said Robert, who admitted that it had been the “saddest and most heartbreaking” 24 hours.

    “Not only was Mo a champion, but she was also a child’s best friend. I don’t know how we will ever replace her. Words can’t describe how devastated we are — she really was the best pony in the world. Thank you, Mo darling, for looking after my princess. I will never forget you. RIP my beautiful.”

    Clearly emotional, Walker added: “Can anyone who sees Izzy at shows please not mention it, because we have told her that Mo-Mo has gone to hospital, just not to break her heart. Our thoughts go to the Speakman family, who loved Mo as much as we did.”

    Magic Moment, by Beckside Little Toff out of Starlyte Merry Bee, had been the perfect first pony for many young jockeys, having stood mini champion at HOYS in 2012 and won at the Royal International.

  2. How to behave at shows: a showing parable

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    Perfectly poised on her impeccably polished pony, the child looks down her nose at Poppy.
    “Shouldn’t you be in the home-produced class?” she sneers at Lucinda.

    “We’re doing that one as well,” replies Lucinda, trying not to show how hurt she is — not for herself, but for Poppy, whom she loves more than anything. “We were coming anyway so we thought we might as well have a go.”

    The child rolls her eyes. “Well, if you want to waste your money…”

    Lucinda runs her hand down Poppy’s neat little plaits and manages not to say something rude. Her mother always told her that if she couldn’t think of anything nice to say, she shouldn’t say anything. She loves her showing — she sees all her friends, they can gossip in the line-up, she loves the show atmosphere, the burger van, the trade stands, but more than anything else she loves showing off Poppy, whom she believes is beautiful.

    Unfortunately, there are a few children on the circuit like this unlovely creature. Her friends talk of bribes and back-scratching, altered marks and “facey” judging and Lucinda seen some of those things herself. But she mostly thinks that the judges judge what they see on the day and not everyone can win all the time.

    In her class, the unpleasant child’s impeccably polished pony unleashes a volley of vicious bucks in canter down the long side, right in front of the judges, and is asked to leave the ring. Lucinda and Poppy are pulled in fifth and move up to fourth, which she thinks is perfectly fair. The top three are beautiful ponies and the winner headed the line at HOYS last year. Poppy behaves like a dream in their home-produced class and finishes second.

    Lucinda is thrilled with her two rosettes but at the end of the day, she doesn’t much care. She knows she’s taking the best pony home.

  3. Four-year-old competitor wins £1000 championship at the North of England Show

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    Four-year-old Lilly Ahern-Lee landed the biggest win of her showing career to date when claiming the £1,000 Leaventhorpe supreme mini pony championship at the North of England Summer Pony Show held at Arena UK on 9 July. Lilli Ahern

    Her winning partner was the lead-rein Barkway Sweet William, who behaved like a trooper in very wet conditions. By Barkway Bubbling Fun out of Barkway Sweet Pea, he won the supreme accolade at the British National Foal of the Year Show in 2010.

    Lilly describes him as “my best friend” and they made their debut at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last October, when they won their section. The pair have enjoyed several wins this season and have already booked their return passage to Birmingham.

    As Lilly is so small, Team Ahern’s sponsor, Black Country Saddles, developed a bespoke strap to go from one D-ring to the other on the saddle for her to hold on to when in the ring, an aid that is permitted in lead-rein classes. But it would be hard to find a safer pony.

    “William has impeccable manners,” said Lilly’s mother, Alex Ahern. “We had such a fab day at North of England.”

    Indeed they did: also riding for Team Ahern were Georgina Holmes and Wilderness Early Bird, who picked up the £1,000 Michaela Wood supreme pony title. The team’s total haul included the two supremes, one reserve and two HOYS tickets, as well as other placings.

    Image: horse show rosette by Calsidyrose via Flickr , CC BY 2.0

  4. Michaela Wood triumphs at the Great Yorkshire Show

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    The Great Yorkshire Show is one of the most prestigious — and therefore hotly contested — shows on the summer circuit, so to win there is a feather in anyone’s cap.

    Michaela Wood landed the intermediate championship on Thursday (July 14 ) in fine style, producing a fittingly elegant show on the small riding type DP UK Night Dancer to head a competitive section of 13.

    The stunning mare, by Mooiman out of Bowland Forest Ivy, has been a consistent winner for Team Wood, triumphing at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2014, and claiming several accolades last season. At her first show this term, she was champion hack and intermediate at Lincolnshire Spring Show.

    There was further Great Yorkshire Show success for the team when their reigning Cuddy in-hand supreme, Romanno Royale, in his first season under saddle, won his middleweight class and stood reserve hunter champion, ridden by Simon Charlesworth.

    “We’ve had a fantastic time at my home show,” said Wood, who is based in Harrogate. “Thank you to my great team at home, sponsor TopSpec and our new sponsor Derby House.”

  5. A sport horse broodmare takes the Cuddy supreme in-hand at Ardingly

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    There has been a lot of negative posting on social media last week, so how refreshing to see so much genuine delight for breeder Jane Townshend, who landed the prestigious Cuddy supreme in-hand honours at South of England Show on Friday, June 10.

    Townshend, who owns Classictop Stud, went through to the final at Ardingly with the sport horse champion Raritat, by Rockwell out of a Landadel mare.

    “What a day,” she said. “I am completely overwhelmed that we took the Cuddy with a sport horse broodmare. She’s 15 years old and showjumped up to 120m level in Holland. She has bred four foals, the oldest of which is Centrestage, a licensed stallion at in Ireland who competes at two-star level eventing.”

    Raritat has a handsome foal at foot by the Catherston stallion Timolin, but he will be sold because Classictop doesn’t retain colts.

    “We are very much a mare-only yard so only run on fillies,” said Townshend. “This also means we can use any stallion anywhere to try to breed the best, though I do like to support British breeding.”

    Townshend added she has received some lovely messages, which is some consolation after a tumultuous time.

    “I lost my lovely riding horse mare after foaling and had very, very little sleep for 19 days,” she explained. “This on top of spending six out of 15 months in plaster, after two nasty ankle operations, has made life very challenging. I have questioned whether it was time to quit, but I’m not a quitter.”

    She certainly isn’t, and will surely be breeding beautiful horses for years to come.
    Image: Raritat wins the Cuddy supreme in-hand at Ardingly by and courtesy of Peter Spidge Photography

  6. Home-bred pony wins the Cuddy supreme in-hand at the Royal Bath & West

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    Vicki Rudd landed the coveted Cuddy supreme in-hand championship — one of the most prestigious HOYS qualifiers of the season — at Royal Bath & West last Saturday (June 4) with her first ever home-bred pony, Shildons Excalibur.

    The three-year-old gelding is by Rotherwood Peeping Tom out of Thirkleby Blue Bonnet. It was only his second show, having stood show hunter pony champion and reserve supreme in-hand at Hambleton at the end of May. He went through to the Cuddy at Shepton Mallet showground after standing part-bred Welsh champion.

    Excalibur will come out under saddle next year in 14hh SHP novice classes and there are high hopes for him.

    “He has the most exceptional temperament and he is a fabulous mover,” said producer Mark Reeves, who described winning the Cuddy at the Royal Bath & West as “the best moment ever”. “Vicki [owner-breeder] is a stickler for movement and correct conformation.”

    This year’s Bath & West Show boasted an increase in entries, particularly in the breeding classes.
    “For a number of years there have been too many horses around and breeders have not had the confidence in the market to put their mares in-foal,” said Alan Lyons, Royal Bath & West head of shows. “But this year we’re seeing a sharp increase in breeding horse and pony entries.

    “There are still a lot of people out there who want to buy a good pony and somebody has got to breed it. People like the brain of a pony with the stamina and agility of a larger horse, and the growing number of part-bred Welsh and mountain and moorland entries reflect that trend.”

    Rosette image by Brianna via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  7. Midland Counties Show success for a six-year-old novice

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    A six-year-old novice came out at Midland Counties Show last Saturday (June 4) at Arena UK and headed a strong HOYS middleweight hunter class, then took the championship, doing some giant-killing en route.

    Ann Drabble’s Lowmoor Windsor, ridden by Jo Bates, left in his wake the 2015 Cuddy supreme in-hand victor Romanno Royale, partnered by Simon Charlesworth. He also conquered Robert Walker’s lightweight Pride of Place and heavyweight Patrick’s Choice.

    “This was only his fourth ridden show and it was a really strong middleweight class,” said Bates. “He was perfectly behaved and I’m super-proud of him.”

    Windsor, who is by Makanaky out of the State Diplomacy mare Two Toes, was champion novice at the British Show Horse Association Home Counties show and won at Herts County the week before Midland Counties, qualifying for the Royal International.

    He won all three of his first outings and stood champion twice, after a successful in-hand career that included victories at Newark and Notts, Lincolnshire County, East of England and North of England.

    “I bought him as a foal and it was clear he was going to make a big horse,” said Drabble. “He was turned away, because I will not rush my youngsters, then broken at four. I had him back and hacked him about, then sent him to Jo in February. I always knew he was special because his ride is a dream.”

    This season’s campaign had a minor hiccup when a trip to Royal Windsor had to be aborted on the Wednesday of the show due to flooding, but otherwise all is on track.

    “We don’t want to over-show him, as he is still technically a novice and has a fantastic attitude to his work,” said Bates. “He is improving all the time and there is still more to come, which is very exciting.”

    Bates paid tribute to her sponsors, saying: “We show him in a Black Country saddle, fed on Saracen horse feeds, to make him shine we use Absorbine products, and to keep him clean and even more shiny we use Snuggy Hoods!”

    Image: First prize by Amanda Slater via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

  8. Former HOYS supreme Hallmark IX wins amateur cobs at Royal Windsor

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    There was a familiar face in the amateur cobs when Hallmark IX — the 2013 HOYS supreme horse — headed the class with owner Heather Clay. Brandy, as Hallmark is known, is now back with Heather and is home-produced, after a stellar career as a lightweight and then maxi cob with Jack Cochrane and Simon Reynolds.

    “I was so pleased with my lovely Hallmark IX winning a huge class of amateur cobs at Royal Windsor,” said Heather. “He went amazingly and was fabulous to ride in the main ring.”

    The open cob championship went to Vicky Hesford and Randalstown Musketeer, who won the heavyweight section. Musketeer, owned by Clare Twiston-Davies, is the reigning cob of the year, but is only in his second season.

    “He’s seven and still a relative novice, but he has such a good brain that we put him in some open classes,” said Vicky. “Having said that, he probably hasn’t seen a showground like Windsor, so we are over the moon. It was a great feeling to ride in that main ring. He has so much character, so much charisma and he is a proper stamp of a cob.

    “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been competing — and I’ve been coming here since I was three years old — you still get such a buzz at Windsor.”

    Image: Hallmark IX by Steve Dawe of Real Time Imaging

  9. Two-year-old filly wins the Royal Windsor’s in-hand coloured championship at her first show

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    Lisha Leeman’s home-bred Kellythorpes Spot the Difference landed the in-hand coloured championship at Royal Windsor yesterday (Thursday, May 12), despite it being the two-year-old’s very first show. Known as Pickle, the filly is out of Lillykai by renowned sire Stormhill Mink.

    “Proud doesn’t even come close,” said Leeman, who, like many other exhibitors had a wasted journey to Windsor, having to drive straight back to her Chelmsford base on the first day, which was cancelled due to flooding. “This has been the best day ever.”

    There was more to come: the first coloured Leeman bred, Kellythorpes Master Key, was third in a 22-strong class ridden by Frazer Atherden, who is engaged to Leeman’s daughter, Janay. Then team rider Joseph Thurston partnered the traditional coloured, Heartbreaker, to stand second. As icing on the cake Janus, Leeman’s first show cob, won his ridden coloured class with Frazer.

    “Janus hasn’t competed for three years but he loved every second of it today,” said Leeman. “Seeing Jay today enjoy himself so much put the biggest smile on my face and I’m still smiling.”

    And no wonder. It was Janay’s birthday and Frazer’s parents, Andy and Sue, were celebrating their wedding anniversary. What a day for Team Leeman!

    Image: rosettes by Amanda Slater via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

  10. Heavy rain forces Royal Windsor Horse Show to cancel the first day

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    Exhibitors at this week’s Royal Windsor Horse Show were turned away at the gates today (Wednesday, May 11) as the day’s classes were cancelled due to heavy overnight rain.

    The organisers announced: “Wednesday’s show is cancelled due to flooding in the public car park and the lorry parks. The rain is expected to clear by lunchtime and tomorrow’s events are planned to go ahead as usual.”

    Inevitably, there were complaints, but most people — having seen the state of the lorry parks — were fairly stoic.
    Lisha Leeman, who has a full team competing this year, returned to her Essex base, saying: “I know it’s disappointing that Royal Windsor is cancelled today, and maybe even for the rest of the week, but I wouldn’t risk the safety of my horses and riders for anything, they mean far too much to me.”

    Robert Walker, who has enjoyed a phenomenal run in the hunter classes that are traditionally held on Windsor Wednesday, was also philosophical, saying at least he still had the reigning champion — last year’s victor, Pride Of Place.

    “There was what can only be described as a monsoon all night,” he reported. “I got up to ride-in for our classes that start at 7.15am, but I have to say you couldn’t ask a horse to do its best in this.”

    Nina Armstrong, who has show cobs with producer Ian Smeeth, added: “It was a wise decision [to cancel] and one not made lightly. They [the organisers] are better to preserve the ground and hopefully run later on this week, rather than turn the place into a quagmire on day one.”

    In the washout spring of 2012, several classes at Windsor on the Friday were cancelled to preserve the ground for the weekend, which proved a success. Let’s hope the same applies this year.

  11. “Home-bred” pony and rider qualify for the Royal International

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    A second-generation home-bred has qualified for the Royal International — and the jockey is “home-bred” too.

    Alex Hollings, daughter of showing supremos Penny and Nigel Hollings, won the 153cm show hunter pony section at BSPS Area 1 on Saturday, April 30, with Pendle First Light (Pandora).

    Penny bred Pandora out of After Dark V, a successful SHP that was second at HOYS in 1998. After Dark was out of a mare called Sheer Gold, Penny’s first horse, and by the Thoroughbred sire Westhill Integrity.

    “After Dark is retired here and Pandora was her first foal, by the dressage stallion Roulette,” said Penny Hollings. “After Pandora’s past couple of outings, we thought we needed to change things in her feed and work routine and she seemed much happier on Saturday. She did super gallops in both go-round and show, and thankfully the judges thought so too. It gives me such joy as a mum to watch these two.”

    Pendle First Light has packed a lot into her 12 years, having stood supreme show hunter pony at the BSPS Championships, and won at both the Royal International and HOYS as a five-year-old. Alex Hollings, now 20, took over in 2012 and the pair has qualified for the Royal International and HOYS every year since. This is Alex’s last season with Pandora.

    Image: Alex Hollings and Pandora, courtesy of the Hollings family

  12. Allister Hood returns to the show ring — and to victory

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    Allister Hood made a triumphant comeback to the show ring just months after a freak accident that left him with serious injuries.

    Competing at the Three Shires Spring Festival at Arena UK, Lincolnshire, last Sunday, Hood partnered Lady Caroline Tyrell’s spectacular blue-and-white gelding Our Cashel Blue to take the cob title, and Annabel Jenks’s Diamonds Are Forever to land the riding horse honours.

    Hood, who claimed the supreme horse title at the Royal International in 2014 with the hunter Hoppy Jumping, was crushed by a horse in January, sustaining head and internal injuries. But at Three Shires — BSPS Area 5 — he looked back to his supreme showman self.

    “I felt fine today, I wasn’t in too much pain,” revealed Hood, who added that Our Cashel Blue was the first horse he sat on following the accident. “It’s really a case of working on my energy levels and muscle tone. My head injury and ribs have healed, and my split liver is behaving itself. I was very lucky that I was fit and active when the accident happened.”

    Our Cashel Blue, now a seven-year-old, scored 44 out of a possible 50 marks from both ride and conformation judges at Horse of the Year Show last October to stand champion coloured.

    Described as a “rather nervous character” when he first joined the Hoods’ in 2014, Cashel Blue has come on immeasurably since then, and his considerable presence shone through at Arena UK.

    Image: rosettes by Amanda Slater via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

  13. Tarynn Rudd and The Politician in North of England Spring Show success

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    Despite attending only their second show together, Tarynn Rudd and consistent campaigner The Politician lifted the first-ever Whalton Wolf Whistle Memorial Trophy at the North of England Spring Show at Warren Farm.

    The Politician, known as Smithy, is no stranger to the spotlight, having won at the Royal International in 2013 and 2014 with Rudd’s sister, Briony. But 17-year-old Rudd has just taken over the ride.

    “They’re a tough act to follow,” she said. “They were reserve intermediate champions in 2013 and took the title in 2014. Smithy was also second [to the great Partytime V] in the small hunter championship at Horse of the Year Show in 2013.”

    Smithy, who is owned by the sisters’ mother, Vicki Rudd, is by OBOS Quality out of Jokey Pokey, and was bred by Charles Carter. He is now nine years old and will take Rudd into her first intermediate season.

    “I’m really excited about him,” she said. “It was only the second time I’d ridden him, so I was over the moon with the way he looked and went. He’s produced by Mark Reeves and Steven Hulston of the Cuddington Stud and they did a fab job! My aim now is to try to qualify for HOYS.”

    Meanwhile, Bryony Rudd has a new intermediate hunter type called Wizard VII, who qualified for Hickstead at BSPS Area 4a earlier this month, where they stood reserve champions.

    The new Whalton Wolf Whistle trophy was presented this year by the Bott family, in memory of their intermediate show riding type who took the title at the Royal International in 2010 with Gemma Bott.

  14. Three-year-old Izzy Walker wins lead rein class at the North of England Spring Show

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    There was another Walker victory at the North of England Spring Show held at the new venue of Warren Farm, Formby, Lancashire, on Saturday (April 16). But this time it was the turn of the youngest member of the dynasty, three-year-old Isabella (Izzy), riding in the ring for the first time.

    She partnered Barkway Magic Moments, by Beckside Little Toff out of Starlyte Merry Bee, whom Robert and Sarah Walker loaned for her at the end of last year.

    “Izzy was making her debut and she went and won, qualifying for the Royal International, then stood mini reserve,” said Robert Walker. “She was very excited and couldn’t sleep the night before. She loved every minute of it.”

    The North of England Spring Show was something of a Walker benefit, with Robert Walker heading the novice heavyweight hunters riding Patrick’s Choice and standing reserve; the lightweight open hunters with Shroughmoor Emperor and reserve; the novice hacks with Comberton Clarence; and the open cobs with Randalstown Rolex.

    For good measure, the Walkers produced the 128cm show pony winner Milton Pageboy and the 138cm Charnlee Delightful Dan, who also stood reserve champion.

    And, as icing on the cake, Robert’s sister-in-law, Vicky Hesford, headed the large hacks with former Royal International champion Whalton Forgery and claimed the title here.

  15. A Shetland pony (and his 12-year-old rider) achieve dressage success

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    A Shetland pony achieved a creditable third place — in a preliminary dressage class. Jack Dale rode Cranford Fandabbydosey (Fanny) to score 68.5 points at Golden Cross, in a class of 22 contestants.

    Jack, 12, has ridden Fanny for Cranford breeder Gerry Hart for four years. Among the pair’s achievements are ridden champion and reserve at the Shetland Pony Society annual national show and reserve working hunter pony champions at the National Pony Society Summer Championships.

    “They came third in the prelim 7, seeing off warmbloods, which I love,” said Hart. “Size catches up with all Shetland jockeys and this will be Jack’s last season. This multi-talented pony will go racing to satisfy both his and the jockey’s need for speed!

    “I don’t normally race my ponies, but she has brakes, he has hunted with the Southdown and Eridge, and Jack is desperate. He has been so good schooling her on the flat over the years that I can’t deny him.”

    Fanny, by Edem Filmstar out of Isle of Mona Fringe, is the Cranford stud’s F-line, and has bred several foals.

    “She’s 12 now and everything she has bred to various stallions has enjoyed success under saddle, including one driven,” added Hart.

    Jack lives in Heathfield, East Sussex, with his mother Sally Ann, who has a riding school and livery yard nearby. She teaches all ages, but managed to resist the temptation to over-tutor Jack, letting him have fun “until the riding bug bit him”.

    Image: Jack and Fanny competing at Golden Cross Equestrian Centre, by LRG Photography, courtesy of Gerry Hart and LRG Photography

  16. Natalie Reynolds makes a winning comeback to the showring

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    Simon Reynolds is renowned for his partnership with the 2013 HOYS supreme horse, Hallmark IX, but now his wife, Natalie, has stolen the show with a winning return to the ring.

    Riding Cobswallop — the clever name is clue enough that he was once part of the Carol Bardo/Jayne Ross team — she headed the Royal International maxi cob qualifier at BSPS Area 16 Spring Show, held on April 9 at Trinity Park in Suffolk.

    “Simon has been doing all the ring-riding, while I’ve been busy with my son Luke — I’ve not ridden in the ring for nearly two years,” said Natalie Reynolds. “But I’m really looking forward to getting back in [the ring] more regularly.”

    Cobswallop, now owned by Victoria Buckland, is in his third season with Team Reynolds. His first outing this term was at Brook Farm, ridden by Simon, where he picked up his RIHS ticket.

    “He’s a fantastic horse with a huge personality,” said Reynolds of the now 10-year-old. “He’s the funniest horse on the yard, keeping everyone entertained with his antics. He’s enthusiastic and loves showing. He’s a great ride and athletic in his way of going — he’s very light on his feet for a cob.”

    Cobswallop’s record backs this up — he been well placed at HOYS and the RIHS every year since he has been with Team Reynolds.

    Image: Natalie Reynolds and Cobswallop, courtesy of Victoria Buckland

  17. Superstar pony Chantilly Lace produces her first foal

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    Chantilly Lace, the four-times Royal International coloured pony champion, has produced her first foal, a colt by Sue-Helen Shuttleworth’s 2015 HOYS winner and reserve champion Boston.

    “It was a long wait,” said owner Sharon Harrison, who endured seven nights without sleep until Lacey foaled on 6 April. “Every minute felt like an hour, my eyes were square from staring at the screen and every time she wandered round the stable I got palpitations!

    “But everything Lacey has ever done she has done well, and this foal is no exception — he is a beauty. Lacey has always been a superstar, so we have named him Star. The little man has some big shoes to fill.”

    The “little man” is a very special baby, because Lacey was put in-foal to The Scoundrel in 2013, but lost the foetus. The Harrisons tried four lots of AI in 2014, but Lacey did not take.

    “Last year we decided to let Lacey do it herself, so no scans or jabs,” revealed Harrison. “It was impossible to use The Scoundrel because he is in Devon, so we chose Boston, who we love but thought he was small. Sue-Helen assured us he threw big foals. We waited until we thought Lacey was in season and turned her out with Boston. He did the deed and she was scanned in-foal three weeks later.

    “We will be keeping the foal because he is very precious to us. His showname will be Sarison Starman. Sarah [daughter, who rode Chantilly Lace] wanted Sarison Superstar but that would be tempting fate.”

    Image: Sarison Starman, courtesy of Sharon Harrison

  18. Rider qualifies for the Royal International Horse Show on ‘wedding-present’ hack

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    Angharad Ellis Owen will ride at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead this summer for the first time for seven years, after qualifying at Brook Farm with Lingswood Lad and taking the hack championship.

    The large hack was a wedding present from her husband, Simon Charlesworth — best known for his partnership with double HOYS and Hickstead supreme Pearly King — when they tied the knot at the Jockey Club in December 2015.

    “I’m still on cloud nine,” said Ellis Owen, 36, after her victory on Sunday, April 3. “I can’t wait to ride at the Royal International Horse Show again — it’s been seven years, so I’m a little bit excited!”

    Lingswood Lad (Woody) was bred by the late John Thomas, who also bred former Cuddy supreme in-hand horse Golden Gunner. By Dolphin Superstar out of Bronze Bubble, Woody was a big winner in-hand with Charlesworth’s father, Alan. He was lightly shown last year, when he stood novice hack champion at the British Show Horse Association National Championships.

    “I had him on loan last year and then Simon bought him as my wedding present before Christmas,” said Ellis Owen. “Last time I rode at the Royal International Horse Show was in 2010 on a small hack. I’ve had novices since and then got pregnant with Jac. Now Jac, who will be three years old in July, helps me groom him and rides him on a lead-rein round the yard.”

    Image: horse show rosette by Calsidyrose via Flickr , CC BY 2.0

  19. A pony’s tale of triumph over adversity at the Derbyshire Spring Show

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    A Welsh section C pony that suffered a “rough and horrendous start” to his showing career earned a third place at NCPA Derbyshire Spring Show last weekend. Kate Waite, wife of owner Richard Waite, said: “Seeing this has made me more proud than qualifying for Horse of the Year Show.”

    Waite’s husband bought Thorndon Park Captain (Zak) as a two-year-old from the Welsh Cob sales in 2009. The pony was brought on slowly and, in his first season under saddle, achieved placings at Cheshire and Lincolnshire County and in many other HOYS qualifiers. But then he was struck by a severe bout of stress laminitis.

    “It was touch and go for around a year, and we genuinely believed he would never be able to be ridden again — or, worse, that we would lose him,” recalled Waite. “We treat our ponies like a member of the family so we refused to give up on Zak, and were determined to give him every chance we could.”

    The laminitis cleared up and Aimee Devane — who also produces the current Olympia ridden champion Townend Schubert — brought him slowly back into work. It was all going well until complications due to his laminitis set in and the pony went back to the Waites to rest.

    “After Zak had recovered, he was sent to Sarah Parker, as she was already producing our Welsh C stallion,” said Waite. “This was our last chance to get him back into the show ring and he was coming on nicely when we hit another obstacle; a by-product of his laminitis that resulted in an extreme case of seedy toe. It was so severe that we thought we would have to make the decision to have him put to sleep.”

    Saluting all those involved in Zak’s return, Waite concluded: “Thanks to the hard efforts and patience of Sarah and [husband] Simon, we were finally able to see our dream of watching Zak in the show ring fulfilled after an horrendous few years. We would like to thank everyone for their efforts and for not giving up on Zak.”

  20. BSPS Winter Championships: ‘green’ pony wins the restricted supreme

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    A five-year-old show hunter pony won the restricted supreme at the BSPS Winter Championships on Easter Saturday. Imperial High Tide secured the top honours with two gallops in his individual show, partnered by Harriet Dennison.

    “I didn’t do anything too fancy in the supreme,” said Dennison, 15. “The judge asked for a show that was suitable for the type of pony, so I tried to really use the ring, and to keep everything accurate and correct. I did incorporate two gallops because he has a good gallop; he really lowers and lengthens.

    “He is very laid-back, so I was looking forward to doing a show in the supreme because he isn’t spooky at all.”

    This is amazing for a pony that, until he was bought in July last year, had done very little.
    “We bought him straight from the breeder, Trudy Goulding, of End House Stud,” said Dennison. “He hadn’t been off the yard before and we took him to a couple of shows, then at the BSPS Summer Championships he went HOYS champion. We took him to HOYS but he was a bit green.”

    Dennison has plenty experience of Horse of the Year Show, having scored a notable double at HOYS in 2013, winning the show hunter pony title with Fayre Daffyd and the show pony honours with Whittakers Princess Royal. She also headed the 148cm show pony class last year with Rotherwood Another Peep. But, after his BSPS Winter Championships success, Imperial High Tide may well take her further in October 2016.

  21. Kellythorpes Stud horse lands HOYS spot

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    One of the first horses bred by Lisha Leeman of Kellythorpes Stud, Kellythorpes Master Key, has booked his place in the coloured final at Horse of the Year Show in October, having won his section at the BSPS Winter Championships over Easter. Kellythorpes-bred horse books place at HOYSMaster Key, known as Marley, is by Honeypot Sporran out of Leeman’s wonderful foundation mare, Meacham Mambo No. 5, whom she lost to colic last October.

    Marley (pictured) has been to HOYS before, standing fourth in the prestigious Cuddy in-hand supreme horse in 2014. But it is the first time he has qualified for the ridden sections at the Birmingham end-of-season finale.

    “Still can’t believe my little guy is now all grown up and on his way to the most fabulous show in the world,” said Leeman, having watched the now five-year-old win his class at Arena UK, Lincolnshire, ridden by Frazer Atherden. “We didn’t get champion or reserve, but those places went to two HOYS winners, which I could totally understand.

    “I was lost for words when they called Marley forward. I think my darling Mambo was looking after her little boy. And I couldn’t believe the song, Mambo No. 5, was playing on the speakers when he was called forward!”

    There was more joy for the Kellythorpes team when Janay Leeman — Leeman’s daughter and Atherden’s fiancée — won her HOYS class with the graded traditional stallion Heartbreaker IV, despite the fact that she had only ridden him in the ring once.

    “Just when I thought today couldn’t get any better, me and ‘Stan’ won the small hairy class at BSPS and qualified for HOYS,” said the younger Leeman. “Dreams do come true. He’s a little superstar.”

    Image courtesy of Leesha Leeman and Kellythorpes Stud

  22. New HOYS class for ridden heavy horses holds the first qualifier in March

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    A class for ridden heavy horses will be held at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) for the first time. The inaugural qualifier will be held at the Shire Horse Society’s National Show, which this year moves to the Staffordshire Showground (March 18-20).

    “This championship will give heavy horse riders the opportunity to showcase our four magnificent heavy horse breeds, the Shire, Clydesdale, Percheron and Suffolk,” said Wendy Toomer-Harlow, a founder member of the British Ridden Heavy Horse Society and a council member of the Shire Horse Society. “They will show people just what these versatile heavy horse breeds are capable of under saddle alongside their established draught uses.”

    Around 200 horses will attend this year’s National Shire Show — the world’s largest gathering of Shires — to be shown in-hand, ridden and in harness. The show is believed to be one of the oldest almost continual horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in London in 1880, when the charity was known as the English Cart Horse Society.

    This year it moves to Staffordshire from its former Peterborough home, and will run over three days instead of two, to cater for its increasing popularity. The ridden classes, including the qualifying class for the HOYS championship, are being held on Friday, March 18, and will also feature dressage and concours d’elegance to highlight the grace and elegance of the gentle giants of the horse world.

    “The National Shire Show will host the first ever HOYS ridden heavy horse qualifying round and, in doing so, the society will take its place in the history of ridden showing,” added Toomer-Harlow. “This is a very exciting time for all those enthusiasts who are involved in the world of heavy horses and passionate about the promotion of our British heavy breeds going forward into the 21st century.”

    Image: Catwg Black Velvet ridden by Stacey Fletcher, courtesy of Jane Muntz-Torres and the Shire Horse Society

  23. Showing supremo Jayne Ross recovers from a fall

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    A relieved Jayne Ross was recovering at home yesterday (Monday, February 22) after scans at Bedford Hospital revealed nothing more serious than severe bruising.

    The showing producer, who won her latest Horse of the Year Show supreme title with Broadshard Simplicity last October, suffered a crashing fall at the Valentine Show at Keysoe last Friday (February 19) when a novice Highland pony she was riding stumbled on the go-round, firing the rider head first into the ground. Jayne was quickly on her feet but was clearly winded, had injured her shoulder and was bleeding from an ear injury.

    “We were afraid she’d injured her shoulder, but it was X-rayed and further scans today [Monday] show intensive bruising and swelling,” said Carol Bardo, at whose Berkshire yard Jayne is based. “She should be back in the saddle soon.”

    Ross added: “I can’t get a hat on at the moment so I’ll be off for a while. I’ve got a black eye and a bruised face. I did a good job!”

    It’s unlikely that Jayne will be out of the saddle for long. Some years ago, after breaking her wrist in a schooling fall, she persuaded the boys in the plaster room to cut down her “pot” so that she could still hold the reins….

    Image: Jayne Ross and Broadshard Simplicity at the Horse of the Year Show, by E.S. Photography, courtesy of the Horse of the Year Show

  24. Fourteen-year-old Susie Eddis recognised for her outstanding achievement

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    When 14-year-old Susie Eddis won the supreme pony title at last year’s Royal International Horse Show with Beat The Boss (pictured), she was adding to already considerable laurels. The pair had headed the 133cm class at Hickstead the year before, too, and won their class as part of the England working hunter pony squad in the Home International.

    Susie and “Bossy” were also selected as part of the new WHP International competition last August, where they again won their class.

    But there was more to come: on January 30, at the British Show Pony Society’s annual meeting, Eddis was presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award 2015.

    “It was absolutely super,” said her mother, Polly. “It was a terrific surprise to us because we didn’t even know she’d been nominated.”

    Beat The Boss — only the second worker ever to win the overall pony title at the RIHS, after Pebbly Pipedream triumphed in 2010 — has an interesting background. He used to be dressed up at Rudolph the reindeer to pull the sleigh for Father Christmas, and competed as a show jumper. He has now gone to Northumberland to be ridden by Xanthe de Wesselow while Eddis has an exciting new 14hh pony called Noble Sir Prize (Percy), who was placed at last year’s Horse of the Year Show.

    “He has big boots to fill as he follows Bossy and Kyregate Peter Pan [Susie’s cradle stakes pony], but he is going to try his hardest,” added Polly Eddis. “Susie is at boarding school, but exeat weekends are all about Percy!”

    Image: Susie Eddis an Beat the Boss at Hickstead, by Equinational, courtesy of the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead

  25. The 15 horse shows you shouldn’t miss

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    Whether you’re a showing competitor or merely a spectator there are some shows that you really should not miss. Add these dates to your diary for 2016.

    Royal Windsor, May 11-15

    One of the most glorious settings and the show that truly kicks off the summer season. It features a direct qualifier for Olympia, so expect to see the crème de la crème of mountain and moorland ponies. And you might even spot The Queen…

    Suffolk, June 1-2

    Delightful showground and a wonderfully warm atmosphere. You can see superb heavy horses, including the Shire, Percheron and, of course, the county’s eponymous Suffolk. The show boasts a supreme in-hand championship.

    Royal Cornwall, June 9-11

    It feels like you’re going to the end of the earth and takes forever to get to, but it has lovely rings, one of the best working hunter courses on the circuit, and an inter-hunt relay. It’s a friendly and well-run show.

    Royal Three Counties, June 17-19

    Set in the lee of the magnificent Malvern Hills, this is one of the most beautiful showgrounds in the land, and the showing is top-class too.

    Royal Highland, June 23-26

    This massive show, held over four days, showcases Scotland’s native breeds, the Highland, Shetland and Clydesdales. Ridden Clydesdale classes are wonderful to watch!

    North of England Horse Show, July 2

    An extremely well-run show at the accessible Arena UK, this features three £1,000-to-the-winner finals, so expect the see the country’s best horses forward.

    Great Yorkshire, July 12-14

    The Harrogate Showground’s spectacular main ring has to be seen to be believed, and its size means the horses can really lower and stretch in the gallop. Excellent shopping, too.

    Scottish Horse Show, July 19

    A compact one-day fixture held at the same venue as the Royal Highland, this show offers almost 100 classes over nine rings and attracts exhibit from all over the UK. The 2015 show had 1,100 entries.

    Royal Welsh, July 18-21

    Spectacular showground for a spectacular breed. Although this four-day show features all kinds of classes, it is the Welsh breeds’ showcase. Watching the Welsh Cob in-hand classes, particularly the stallions, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

    New Forest & Hampshire County, July 26-28

    A proper country show that celebrates the beauty of the New Forest breed — one of our most delightful native ponies.

    Royal International, July 26-31

    Held at the All-England Jumping Course at Hickstead, this is the highlight of the summer season, where the top horses and ponies battle it out for coveted championships.

    National Hunter Show, August 20-21

    The showcase for our superb hunters, with the best ridden animals in the country as well as the up-and-coming youngstock to watch for the following season. See if you can spot a future star.

    BSHA National Championships, September 9-11

    Be prepared for show-stopping evening performances, when exhibitors go all out to land the coveted supreme titles. Expect two nights of pure showmanship, plus the final Cuddy in-hand qualifier of 2016.

    Horse of the Year Show, October 5-9

    There is always an end-of-term feel to HOYS, when those who have qualified throughout the summer season converge upon Birmingham’s NEC to find out who is the best of the best.

    Olympia, December 13-19

    Perhaps the most important date in the mountain and moorland showing calendar, when the cream of our ridden native breeds try to win the prestigious Blue Chip BSPS accolade.

    Image: Working hunter championships at the Royal Windsor Horse Show 2015, by Hpower/Kit Houghton

  26. How to get started in showing

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    Olympia inspired you to take up showing? It is said that if you are into sailing, you might just as well stand under a cold shower and tear up £20 notes. I’m not sure what the equivalent is for horse showing, but it certainly involves a lot of £20 notes.

    Not so much, though, on the cost of the horse or pony. There are so many showing shows now, from unaffiliated upwards, that you don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive “made” animal. Ask around — at your local riding school, tack shops and equestrian stores — and keep your eyes open; that shaggy pony could be a top-class coloured with a bit of trimming and elbow grease!

    Showing basics

    Go to as many shows as you possibly can, even if you don’t yet have something to show; if someone on your yard is into showing, why not ask them if you can groom for them some time? Starting off at an unaffiliated show is a good idea, but once you and your horse are ready to step up to affiliated, you will have to register with the appropriate society.

    There are five main showing societies; three pony ones — the National Pony Society, Ponies UK and the British Show Pony Society — and two horse ones, the British Show Horse Association and Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain. There are also breed societies, so you may have to join more than one, and two coloured societies, the British Skewbald and Piebald Association and the Coloured Horse and Pony Society.

    Do your prep

    You may not have the best pony in the ring, but you can have the best turned-out, the best schooled and the best mannered! Several professional producers run showing clinics that, if your budget will allow, are well worth attending. Katie Jerram, Lynn Russell, Robert Walker, Penny Hollings and Jo Bates are just a few of the top pros who run such clinics and those who have attended them say they are enormously beneficial.

    Get good advice

    Don’t be afraid to ask the professionals for advice at shows. They’re professionals for a reason and it’s their job, and most are more than willing to pass on invaluable advice and tips — so long as they’re not rushing madly from ring to ring. Ask questions whenever you can — most showing folk will be happy to help a “newbie”.

    Don’t think you have to have the best or most expensive kit — look at second-hand or “pre-loved” bits and pieces and try to make most of your purchases at the end of the season. At the beginning, sellers will put their prices up.

    Keep your spirits up

    The one thing to remember about showing is that you are asking for someone’s opinion — it is entirely subjective. So don’t be downhearted if you and your pony don’t get in the placings; in time you will learn which judges like your animal’s type, and which don’t. At the end of the day, if you have done your best, it’s only a piece of ribbon. In the meantime, you’ll learn a lot, you’ll make some wonderful new friends, you’ll spend more time with your pony and you’ll have fun. You may not win, but your horse is still the same animal he was before the class and still the one you want to take home.

    And as someone pointed out, you can make a small fortune in showing — but only if you start off with a big one…

    Image: Grey hunter (cropped), by Jean via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

  27. All you need to know about Olympia’s Ridden M&M Championship

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    The BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship at the London International Horse Show at Olympia on Monday, December 21, is one of the most prestigious finals in the showing world. It showcases our wonderful native breeds, which have qualified at shows across the country, with one from each breed going through.

    At Olympia, the finalists are judged in three sections: Dartmoor, Exmoor, Shetland, Welsh Section A and Section B; Dales, Fell, Highland, Connemara and New Forest, and Welsh Section C and D. They are assessed by four judges, with two doing performance, the others doing conformation. This year’s officials are Martin Jones and Rodger James (performance), with Len Bigley — best known for his Llanarth Welsh stud, and Henrietta Knight (conformation), National Hunt trainer and Connemara breeder.

    The contestants do their individual show for the judges and are then stripped for the conformation judges. Each judge then marks the pony out of 50. They will be looking for not just way of going and manners, but also breed type, which is vital in this class. The ride judges’ marks are displayed above the arena, but the conformation judges’ scores are not, so that the final result is not given away before the afternoon’s final judging.

    There is always a terrific atmosphere for this championship, with many in the crowd being supporters of the competitors in the ring, so expect whooping and hollering. The audience is knowledgeable, too, and you will be able to tell if they agree with the judges’ displayed scores — they tend to be quite vocal.

    This year’s field includes 17 Welsh ponies, five Connemaras, four Fells — including the striking grey Murthwaite Windrush — two Dales, two Shetlands, two Dartmoors, one Exmoor, one New Forest and three Highlands, two of which have the same owner.

    For my money, I’d go for one of the Highlands, Ben Breac of Croila (pictured above), who has had the most fantastic season. He qualified for this final by standing M&M supreme at Royal Windsor and took the Heritage supreme at the BSPS Summer Championships, too. But Olympia is Olympia and, on the day, anything is possible.

    Image: Ben Breac of Croila, pictured above at the North of England Show, is a strong contender for the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship at Olympia. Image by Real Time Imaging/Steve Dawe

  28. Veteran Olympia supreme pony dies at 25

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    Three-times Olympia veteran supreme Murrum Park Phantom has died at the age of 25. ‘Phanty’ was a phenomenal pony who had enjoyed a stellar dressage career in Australia before coming to England in 2006.

    “Yesterday [23 November], Phanty danced his way to pony heaven,” said owner Kate Marfleet. “Ribbons aside, he brought so many friends together, both in England and Australia; a gift that will stay with me for life. He was a truly magical pony with a huge personality and Katie Kelly, Amanda Marfleet and I were incredibly lucky to share his story.”

    Phanty, an Australia-bred 14hh gelding by Rotherwood Footlight, was trained and competed to Prix St Georges level by Katie Kelly and scored up to 83 per cent in open dressage. He also took many showing championships in Australia, including state and national titles.

    Marfleet and her family returned to England from Australia in 2006 and brought Phanty with them. They were second in the prestigious Search for a Star show pony section at Horse of the Year Show in 2007 and claimed the veteran honours at Olympia in 2008, 2009 and 2011, after which he was retired from the show ring. They were also successful in dressage to music.

    “He was the pony of a lifetime, and I was so lucky to have had the privilege of owning him,” added Marfleet.

  29. Horse weight: why we need showing pros to act now

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    Some years ago, leading show producer Jayne Ross deliberately thinned down the horses that she shows for Carol Bardo. She felt they were too fat and reported that they went much better after getting the weight off.

    This is noteworthy for two reasons. One, being overweight is just as bad for horses as it is for people, as Dr Sue Dyson, head of equine clinical orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust, highlighted at the World Horse Welfare annual conference on November 10. And two, that a professional producer was making a stand against the show ring fashion for excess horse weight was laudable.

    That was, I think, 2012. And Ross has stuck to her guns. But go to any show, anywhere, and you will see grotesquely fat horses and ponies. In the past few seasons, I have heard of judges marking down overweight animals, and telling the exhibitor why they are doing so. But the problem persists.

    As Ross herself says: “I don’t think people are brave enough to make the stand that they should be making.”

    Among those who should be making that stand are, first and foremost, the judges. A few years back, I was privileged to judge one of the supremes at the British Show Horse Association National Championships. I remember standing in the corner of the arena, watching a cob come hurtling down towards me at a ponderous gallop, and it was wobbling. I, and my fellow judges, marked it down. It was amateur champion, so I felt bad. But it should never have been in the supreme in the first place; it was obscenely overweight.

    But it’s not just cobs, which, let’s face it, do tend to be on the chunkier side. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be horrified at some of the hunters on the county circuit, with their ripples of fat and loaded shoulders. Children’s riding ponies are another cause for concern, particularly lead-rein animals, which seem to get fatter (and more overbent, but that’s another subject) every season. Is this because people are afraid that if they are fit, they will get too strong for the child and the leader?

    Native ponies, too, are often seen to be carrying too much “condition”. Britain’s mountain and moorland breeds were bred to do a job that is now, mostly, defunct, and there is always much discussion about keeping “type”. But type never meant fat. The M&Ms survived because they could grow fat on concrete, as the saying used to go, but their pampered 21st century lifestyles — like ours — mean that they never get to work off that excess weight.

    So what is the answer? We know that excess weight is not good, and we must strive to re-educate and to practise what we preach. So as well as looking to the showing judges to make a stand and mark down obese animals, we must also expect the professional producers to set an example — as Dr Dyson called in her speech at the World Horse Welfare conference.

    Because until professional producers produce leaner animals, the amateurs will continue to follow the fat fashion. “But the professionals have their horses big,” they say, anxiously, “so we have to, as well.”

    “A lot of people have this bizarre feeling that you can improve a horse’s appearance by topping it up a little bit and giving it more topline and more backside,” says Ross. “But at the end of the day, if it’s not there through work and muscle and toning, it’s just lumps of lard.”

    Quite so.

    Image: Horse in summer pasture by Smerikal via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

  30. How to prepare for a horse show

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    A leading show producer once told me that, due to the OCD of their head lad, their lorry was fully packed at least two days before any horse show — complete with all the tack. So if they needed anything before the show, they’d distract the head lad while someone would sneak on the lorry to grab whatever it was while he wasn’t looking. Then, of course, they had to sneak it back on again…

    The five Ps of successful competitors

    This level of forward planning is a little extreme, but there’s no denying that, for the exhibitor, the five Ps — Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance — apply. Most of the prep is done at home, of course; classes and championships are won on your own yard by the work you put in beforehand.

    But organisation is key if you are to survive the rigours of competing. I can remember years ago leaving the yard very early to drive from Kent to Royal Windsor in the lorry rather than the trailer, because we were taking several ponies. Even this part was a bit hair-raising, because the trees over the road to the yard hung over and scraped along the top of the lorry.

    So it was even worse to have to turn back because someone had forgotten to pack their “lucky” showing boots. Superstition is rife in the horse world; our early morning start wasn’t helped by the fact that we kept seeing lone magpies…

    Make a list — and check it twice

    A list is a good place to start: working through the whole day from the beginning and writing down what you’ll need for each stage. And remember to add extras — stirrup leathers, reins, girths, headcollars and so on — because something is bound to break!

    As well as feed and hay for the horses, don’t forget to pack something for yourself for the journey. Bottles of water, sweets, fruit — grapes are ideal because they’re not messy — will keep your spirits and energy levels up if you have a long journey.

    Nab the best spot at the showground

    Once you arrive at the showground and get your bearings, find out when your class is and whether it’s running on time, then find somewhere to warm-up, preferably away the public, shrieking babies, fairground stalls, the beer tent, ravening dogs and all other distractions (easier said than done, of course).

    Whether you’ll end up celebrating or drowning your sorrows, it’s a good idea to find out where your friends are parked and which is likely to be the best “party bus”. But don’t overdo it; high on success or in the depths of despair, the journey home is unlikely to be improved by having the hangover from hell.

    Image: Horse at the Devon Horse Show by Five Furlongs, CC BY-ND 2.0

  31. In defence of cobs

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    The 2015 showing season featured a battle royal, with the combatants matching each other win for win, show after show.

    In the blue corner was Hallmark IX (pictured), who has captured the maxi cob crown at the biggest shows, as well as landing the £1,500 supreme horse title at the Great Yorkshire and the equivalent at the 2013 Horse of the Year Show.

    In the red corner was Starry Night, a former cob of the year who this term measured out of his heavyweight class and came out fighting as a maxi. Neither pulled any punches. Their final head-to-head was HOYS, where Starry Night bested his main rival, and was promptly retired from the showring.

    This clash of the Titans has turned the spotlight on maxi cobs, although in truth they have been popular since they were first introduced as a showing class in 2011 — just as much, if not more so, as their 155cm lightweight and heavyweight counterparts. Because, let’s face it, a cob is the perfect amateur’s horse — fun, safe, reliable and easy to do. And it has a hogged mane, so you don’t even have to plait. A cob is the perfect amateur’s horse

    Amateur cob classes at shows are almost always well supported, as are the open ones — the producers love cobs, too. However, all that being said, cobs do have their detractors, who deride them as “fat and lazy”, “slow and ploddy”, and “hairy sloths”.

    Certainly, keeping the weight off them can be a problem; cobs tend to love their tucker. Even the great Hallmark has to watch his waistline, or rather his producer Simon Reynolds does it for him.

    “He could overfeed himself,” Reynolds says. “We keep him on a proper diet so he doesn’t get too overweight; we don’t want too much over the shoulder. Because of the way he’s put together we want the right weight on him so he can move well and keep giving the ride that he does.”

    As for being a sloth, though, Hallmark is renowned for his effortless, smooth, ground-covering ride. Tim Wiggett, a vastly experienced ride judge, has assessed him many times since he first came out, and is a huge fan.

    “Hallmark eats up the ground, and when you move him into gallop, he just lowers and goes and there’s such power and balance,” he enthuses. “Everything stays balanced. That’s due to conformation. If his conformation wasn’t right and he was on his forehand, strung out like a sausage, you wouldn’t get such balanced, free-flowing movement.”

    And although cobs may be affectionately referred to as “flying sofas” — they are supposed to be comfortable, after all — attend any show with a cob class and watch them gallop. “Slow and ploddy” are probably not the words that will come to mind. You will see more stuffy hunters.

    Outside the showring, the cob excels in the hunting field — it’s a comfortable ride with a big engine, so will stay out as long as you want to. Those leggy Thoroughbred types will run out of petrol long before the cob. The coloured horse of the year — who prevailed at HOYS over more than 50 horses and ponies of all types — was the striking blue-and-white cob, Our Cashel Blue, who hunts with the Dunston Harriers.

    So the cob is good-looking, easy to do, comfortable and will gallop all day. What’s not to love?

    Image: Hallmark IX and Simon Reynolds, Real Time Imaging/Steve Dawe

  32. Ben Breac is BSPS Heritage Championships supreme

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    Melanie and Gemma Stanford topped off a superb season with their Highland ponies when Ben Breac of Croila landed the overall supreme at the BSPS Heritage Championships at Arena UK last weekend (October 17-18).

    Ben Breac, who won the Royal Windsor in-hand supreme two years running in 2013 and 2014 and the ridden honours last May, also collected his ticket for next year’s Royal International Horse Show. And for good measure, the Stanfords’ dun stallion Tower Clyde booked his place in the Olympia Heritage ridden supreme in December.

    “Weekends like this don’t happen very often,” said Gemma Stanford, with admirable understatement. “Clyde won a huge Olympia qualifier at the Heritage Championships and will be joining Ben Breac there. He has redeemed himself after his big leap at Horse of the Year Show [he was somewhat over exuberant in his class]. And Breac wasn’t going to be left out so he was RIHS champion, Blue Riband winner and supreme of show.”

    Landing the supreme is always an achievement, but more so here as the quantity and quality of entrants at the championships continue to rise.

    Native pony specialist Sam Roberts landed the overall Heritage Blue Riband ridden pony of the year with the Welsh section D Rivervalley Flash Jack, who also picked up his Olympia and RIHS qualification. Among her other victories, Greendown Ozzy won three classes for the Lemieux family as well as a reserve and a championship. Birkinbrook Cello headed the novice working hunter ponies and was “red” champion; and Glencarrig Marble qualified for Olympia.

    “We had the most incredible Heritage championships,” said Roberts. “It was absolutely amazing, what a show.”

    For the Blue Riband, she beat another M&M producer, Sarah Parker, with the BSPS Summer Championships supreme, Menai Thomas. Sarah took 10 ponies in total and spent a lot of time rushing from ring to ring.

    “It was a logistical nightmare, trying to make sure I was in the right ring at the right time with the right pony and wearing the right number,” she said.

    Image: Ben Breac Of Croila, Real Time Imaging/Steve Dawe

  33. Winning at HOYS – from the horse’s viewpoint

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    What does it feel like to win at HOYS? Billy tells it all….

    Billy is just, like, whatevah! Since he got back to the yard after his triumph at Horse of the Year Show, the other ponies have been really mean to him. Billy can hardly believe he went champion at HOYS — it was the best day of his entire life.

    He can still recall that amazing feeling of galloping down the centre line, with Amy holding the reins in one hand as she fist-pumped the air with the other, and everyone around the arena clapping and cheering. And then afterwards, when she dismounted and hugged his neck really hard, and he felt her warm tears in his mane. It was the best moment ever.

    But now, every time he tries to talk about it, the other ponies either jeer at him or ignore him. It’s not fair. Don’t they know how special it was? This morning when they were turned out he tried to talk about it again, and Badger actually nipped him! Didn’t he know that if he left a scar it could ruin Billy’s showing career?

    “What’s the matter, Billy?”

    Billy is jolted out of his sulk by Lola, the dear old thing in the next stall. He puts his head over the door.

    “The other ponies are being mean,” he tells her. “Every time I say anything about having been champion at HOYS, they tease me or run away. Nobody knows how special it is.”

    “I do,” says Lola. “I was champion at HOYS many years ago, and there’s nothing like it in the world…”

    For a moment, her eyes look into the distance as she remembers, and Billy can glimpse, just for a second, the beautiful, well-bred filly she once had been.

    “I had no idea,” he says, wonderingly.

    “No,” says Lola, snapping out of her reverie. “I don’t talk about it much, Some memories are like rare jewels, which we should take out only once in a while to appreciate their glow, in private, so that it doesn’t dim. Do you see?”
    And Billy does.

  34. Broadshard Simplicity is Supreme two years in a row at HOYS

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    In what is thought to be a HOYS first, the same horse has won the supreme accolade two years running. Broadshard Simplicity, owned by Carol Bardo and ridden by Jayne Ross, was foot-perfect in the Andrew Bowen International Arena at Birmingham’s NEC to win the title for the second successive year. While the same horse has won this ultimate award twice before, it has not been done in consecutive years.

    “This is up one of the best results of my career — I don’t think it’s ever been done before,” said Ross.

    And Broadshard Simplicity, at seven, is possibly one of the youngest horses to take the title. The gelding, by Llanarth Alleycat, made his first appearance at HOYS in 2013 as a hack, but as he grew and furnished, he found a different niche.

    “After that first year, we had so many people saying, we don’t know if he’s a hack or a riding horse,” said Ross. “So having been champion at Windsor as a hack, he became a riding horse. He bulked up a bit and we would be hard pushed to keep enough off him for him to be quality enough to be a hack.”

    It proved the right decision, as Simplicity still has quality to burn, but the bone and substance needed for a riding horse. He effortlessly took the riding horse championship again this time and, despite the strength and depth in the 2015 supreme horse of the year, was in a class of his own.

    Image: Broadshard Simplicity and Jayne Ross at HOYS, by E.S. Photography, courtesy of HOYS

  35. Sarum Rembrandt wins Pony Supreme at HOYS

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    For the first time since 2012, a mountain and moorland breed landed the supreme pony title at Horse of the Year Show. Sarum Rembrandt, a Welsh section A stallion, painted the perfect picture under the Birmingham spotlights to land to the top accolade — the last M&M to do so was the Highland Stirlingdene.

    The eight-year-old Rembrandt, by Heniarth Quinnell out of Cledwyn Red Rose, was produced to perfection by native pony specialist Sarah Parker. While Parker has been in the final several times before — including last year with Rembrandt — this was the first time she has won this prestigious accolade.

    “It was nerve-racking waiting,” she admitted. “But Remi loved it — the more the crowd cheered the more he showed himself off.”

    The line-up for the HOYS finale was as strong as ever, including the show pony champion, Rhos Exception; the mini M&M Thistledown Van Der Vaart; the consistent working hunter pony Freckleton Maximus; show hunter pony Valentine Dignity, and mini show pony Woodview Ianthe, among others, coming before Jinks Bryer and Brian Williams.

    Meanwhile, in what is thought to be a HOYS first, the same horse has won the supreme accolade two years running. Broadshard Simplicity, owned by Carol Bardo and ridden by Jayne Ross, was foot-perfect in the Andrew Bowen International Arena at Birmingham’s NEC to win the title for the second successive year. While the same horse has won this ultimate award twice before, it has not been done in consecutive years.

    “This is up one of the best results of my career — I don’t think it’s ever been done before,” said Ross.

    And Broadshard Simplicity, at seven, is possibly one of the youngest horses to take the title. The gelding, by Llanarth Alleycat, made his first appearance at HOYS in 2013 as a hack, but as he grew and furnished, he found a different niche.

    “After that first year, we had so many people saying, we don’t know if he’s a hack or a riding horse,” said Ross. “So having been champion at Windsor as a hack, he became a riding horse. He bulked up a bit and we would be hard pushed to keep enough off him for him to be quality enough to be a hack.”

    It proved the right decision, as Simplicity still has quality to burn, but the bone and substance needed for a riding horse. He effortlessly took the riding horse championship again this time and, despite the strength and depth in the 2015 supreme horse of the year, was in a class of his own.

    Image: Sarum Rembrandt by E.S. Photography, courtesy of HOYS