Bury Farm enjoyed glorious sunshine as hopeful candidates contested the fourth SEIB Search for a Star qualifier, which, unusually, was held in the outdoor arena. The day’s competition was judged by the regular team of Richard Ramsay, David Bartram, and Chris Lawton. Hannah Horton took over David Ingle’s ride-judging duties as he was side-lined due to injury.
The day began with the working hunter class, in which a narrow stile on the course caused a few problems. Called in first was Jemma Wenman, 20, from Amersham who, with her Diamond Rambler, had already qualified for HOYS at Houghton Hall with a second-place finish. Jemma had initially chosen Houghton Hall as a warm-up show, but felt after the strong result that she had a point to prove, and so was delighted to take the win today.
“Qualifying for HOYS is amazing and very exciting, but he is very chilled about it,” she says of the 17.1hh gelding, who she has owned since February. “He loves to show off and likes having his photo taken.”
The pair has done some show jumping, gaining double clears in British Novice and Discovery classes, proving Rambo to be dual purpose. “But I love showing. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and love that side of things,” Jemma says. Jemma, who works in administration for Mercedes, plans to get out and about for some more practice before finals, after solving an ongoing travel dilemma: “we hired an indoor school to practice, but I had to hack for an hour to get there, and an hour home. We’ve now bought a lorry!”
The simply-named M took second place with her owner-rider Viv Lines from Liverpool, who bought the mare in October with the intention of eventing her. “She just grew, and I’m not sure she’s the right stamp for eventing,” explains Viv. “We decided to do some showjumping and have a go at showing. We only decided to come to Search for a Star at the last minute!” The decision – and 3am start – paid off for the pair, who also showed at Osbaldeston SFAS for the experience. “We did Osbaldeston and really enjoyed it, but she had only recently started jumping,” explains Viv, who had a 4-year break from riding while she worked in France. “It is great to be back in the horse world.” Viv now works part time for the BHS as an inspector, visiting riding schools and yards. She also has another horse that she competes in eventing. “M is being loaned to the Pony Club for the Area Dressage. It just helps to put more miles on the clock,” she explains. Viv is enjoying her first foray into showing, admitting that the show ring is not without its pressures: “I was very nervous and she tensed up, which is unlike her as she is usually so chilled! But it was a great experience,” she says. “Qualifying for HOYS is scary, but very exciting! We need to do lots of preparation.”
Riding Club Show Horse
A strong field of twenty horse-and-rider combinations contested the riding club show horse qualifiers, tackling trotting poles, a brush fence, and a colourful show jump featuring a giraffes and peacocks. Louise Chamberlain, 25, from Lambourn, claimed the top spot with her 13-year-old Irish Sports Horse mare Mystical Clover. Louise has owned the mare, by Clover Park, since she was a five-year-old, and the pair previously evented to Novice level before retiring to focus on dressage and show jumping. Louise is a graphic designer and, appropriately, she is responsible for designing the 2016 HOYS advertisement. “We always thought she was a nice type, but you don’t know for sure until you try,” says Louise of her decision to try showing. “At home she is just like a Labrador – she has an amazing temperament, a real people’s horse. To win and qualify for HOYS is just amazing!”
Second place went to 17-year old Victoria Turner, riding her mother Claire Turner’s Rubiks Cube. Victoria bought Rubiks Cube when the mare was a just-backed three-year-old, and initially struggled to make the leap from her prior schoolmaster pony, coming off at a show. “This just made me all the more determined to succeed,” says Victoria, whose tenacity has paid off. A member of the Holderness Pony Club, she attended camp that year and the instructor suggested that she should get dressage lessons with Joanne Wilson. “She is just amazing, and I would never have got this far without her,” says Victoria, who has had weekly lessons with Joanne since then. Victoria and Rubiks Cube competed in the Pony Club Winter Championships and SEIB Trailblazers Championships in 2015, and came 3rd overall and 4th in the team competition at the Pony Club area dressage at Harrogate the day before their Search for a Star bid at Bury Farm. They have also qualified for the SEIB Trailblazers Championships again this year. “This has made it all worthwhile,” said a delighted Victoria. “I’ve been dreaming of going to HOYS for over 10 years, ever since we first started. It’s just mad!”
“These are great run events, giving people these opportunities,” says Victoria’s dad, Jonathan, who was there to support her. Victoria, who is studying Horse Management at Bishop Burton College, hopes to become a qualified instructor.
Riding Horse Hack
Chloe Hiscock, 25, from Salisbury won the riding horse hack class with her lovely dun gelding Aramis, a five-year-old that she has brought on herself. Chloe has given the young horse plenty of exposure and focuses largely on show jumping, but decided to try showing. They came to Bury Farm for a second attempt at the SFAS classes after using Stretcholt as a warm-up. “I wanted to come back and have another go,” explained Chloe, who works in sales and marketing for Snuggy Hoods. “He has got a strong personality, but we have built up a good partnership and there is a lot of trust. This makes all the work worthwhile. It’s nice to see a judge on him – I have had a few friends ride him to get him used to other riders, and I have had lots of advice from work colleagues. HOYS was a goal and a vision. This really is a dream come true. I can’t wait – it means so much to be doing on a horse I have brought on myself!”
Chloe has no plans to give up jumping Aramis: “He loves his jumping, and is currently getting double clears at British Novice. He is a fun horse and we will continue to do a bit of everything. I did not realise there was so much to showing – we will definitely get out more and practice! I have moved him to a busier yard so that he gets used to more going on. He is not used to being in a ring with so many other horses, but he has taken to it like a duck to water!”
Second place went to Trevisquite, owned and ridden by Samantha Henshaw, 46, from Macclesfield. Samantha bought the eight-year-old bay mare from an eventing yard two years ago, and intended to focus on dressage with her.
“At competitions, people suggested we should also try showing,” she explains. “We did two SFAS qualifiers last year, but she wasn’t in a double and it has taken a while for her to get used to it.” The pair contested Houghton Hall, placing 5th, before coming to Bury Farm. “I have got some good constructive comments from the judge on what we need to work on,” she adds. “Her grand-dam is The Wexford Lady, who evented at top level, and she has a very strong character. I have to ask her nicely.” The pair are working at elementary level dressage and did the regional finals last year. “Showing is really good experience for her, particularly the atmosphere with the flags,” says Samantha, who has 2 young children and runs Rooftops Letting, a property rental company in Cheshire. “She won’t come in from the field until she is ready, she is very happy out. She also has had a foal by embryo transfer.” Samantha has taken some words of advice from an interview with a football manager, and refers back to them when working with her talented but opinionated mare. “He said you have to keep trying, and don’t be afraid of failure. Just give your best. We did, and it has paid off,” she laughs. Samantha’s groom for the day was friend Nancy Hofton, who learned to do quarter marks so that ‘Chockie’ would look her best.
Winner Walton Dream Weaver, owned by Lindsay Miller and ridden by Jodie Richter, 18, from Horndon-on-the-Hill, is enjoying a successful return to form following an unusual accident. Shortly after buying the mare four years ago, Lindsay turned her out in the ménage, where she was bitten by a snake. “We were entered for our first SFAS, but had to withdraw,” says Lindsay, a loyal SEIB Insurance Brokers customer. “She was bitten just under her neck, but she went mad round the school and injured a front and hind leg. We found the dead snake in the ménage. She needed a long time off, so I decided to put her in foal. She bred a cracking colt, but he is quite cheeky!” Jodie began riding the mare two years ago, and together they went to the Equifest Championship and Cherif Championship for part and pure-bred Arabs last year. They also do local riding club dressage. Jodie has tried SFAS several times, finishing 3rd twice on her show hunter pony, and is studying A levels at Palmers College.
In second place was Sarah Barker, 17, from Manchester, aboard her own Tideline Rainbow King. Sarah bought the Welsh Section D gelding, known as Romeo, as a 20-month-old, and has brought him along herself.
“He was very good to break,” she says. “The first time I got on him we just went out for a hack! We have only been to a handful of shows. I would like to do working hunter, but so far he doesn’t like jumping. But anyone can ride him, he is so well behaved!” Sarah is thrilled to qualify for HOYS after placing 4th at Osbaldeston and 3rd at Houghton Hall, narrowly missing out on qualification.
“It will be just wonderful to go to HOYS, particularly on a horse I have done myself,” she says. “Now we need to get out more and try to do some evening performances.” Sarah plans to have a go at side-saddle with Romeo next year.
The well-attended show hunter section had 21 horses forward. First place went to Sarah Hind, 27, from Nottinghamshire, and her thirteen-year-old gelding Take the Biscuit. Sarah has owned the horse for a year, and has introduced him to showing herself. They contested the SFAS qualifier at Vale View in August and have since shown locally. They now plan to go to the Bakewell Show for the Amateur Royal International qualifier, and have a full diary of show planned. Sarah, who is a small animal veterinary nurse, is supported at shows by her mother, Sally. “She’s my unpaid groom and driver,” laughs Sarah. “This is like a dream,” says Sally. “We never thought we would do it – we go to HOYS every year to watch!”
Melanie Saville from Tewkesbury claimed second place aboard her own Il Potere. Known as Harry, the fifteen-year-old gelding was retired from National Hunt racing for being ‘too polite.’ He hacked and hunted for a short while before Melanie bought him five years ago. “We have done mainly dressage and he has just started doing dressage to music,” says Melanie, who works as a chiropractor. “We have also done a few ex-racehorse classes. It is thrilling to achieve this in a show hunter class, and to know that they liked him. I do lots of everything with him to keep him active and make it fun. He is very sweet, but very intelligent so he gets variety in his work. He’s a nice horse to work with, and so comfortable.”
Melanie was assisted at the event by friend, groom, and client, Sara Jago, who came along to help out. “She’s my lucky mascot,” quips Melanie. “It is thrilling to have qualified for HOYS – the challenge now will be to keep the weight on and the coat off, as he is not the easiest horse to feed. When we are away he doesn’t drink, and so I add apple juice to water in a squirty water bottle and he enjoys that – it’s the only way I can get fluids into him! We sometimes share an apple juice,” she laughs.
Carly McGuinness, 32, took the top prize in the cob section on her own Cobra. Imported from Reid Finlay in Ireland eight years ago, the black gelding was intended for riding club activities. Carly has been persuaded to do more with Cobra by friend, colleague, groom, and prosecco-provider Lucy Penrose. Together, they made the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Bury Farm.
“And just look what happened!” says a thrilled Carly. “This was our aim, and I’m delighted.” Carly, who works in administration, and Lucy, an equine vet, work together at Wright and Morton, a mixed veterinary practice, and also keep their horses at the same livery yard. Carly and Cobra will now contend some open classes and concentrate on the preparation for HOYS.
“We do some working show cob classes, fun rides and riding holidays – he really is the complete alrounder,” says Carly, who backed Cobra and has brought him on herself. “He was not easy, but we persevered with some help and once we had clicked he just went from strength to strength. I would trust him entirely.”
Second place went to Ranchella Rolex, owned and ridden by Louise Askin, 32, from Swanwick, Derbyshire. Louise, who breeds rare coloured French bulldogs, had gone to try ‘Roly’ as a happy hacker for her mum, but saw his potential as a show cob and decided to buy him for herself. “I have 3 children, Morgan, Harriette and Luke, and he is safe enough for them to ride at home,” says Louise. “They all come to shows to support. The two girls are doing cradle and nursery stakes, so he has to fit in around their shows. He gives such a good ride; we mainly do pleasure rides, hacking, and we have just started to do some jumping. It’s so exciting to have qualified for HOYS – I can’t wait!”
These are the class results on the day, but they may not all qualify for HOYS due to passport irregularities or at the judge’s discretion or where the same rider has qualified twice or where the horse or rider do not meet all eligibility requirements.
1st Diamond Rambler, owned and ridden by Jemma Wenman
2nd M, owned and ridden by Viv Lines
Riding Club Show Horse
1st Mystical Clover, owned and ridden by Louise Chamberlain
2nd Rubiks Cube, owned by Claire Turner and ridden by Victoria Turner
1st Aramis, owned and ridden by Chloe Hiscock
2nd Trevisquite, owned and ridden by Samantha Henshaw
1st Walton Dream Weaver, owned by Lindsay Miller and ridden by Jodie Richter
2nd Tideline Rainbow King, owned and ridden by Sarah Barker
1st Take the Biscuit, owned and ridden by Sarah Hind
2nd Il Potere, owned and ridden by Melanie Saville
1st Cobra, owned and ridden by Carly McGuinness
2nd Ranchella Rolex, owned and ridden by Louise Askin