There was an exceptional turnout at Bury Farm for the second SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier of 2022 on the 22nd of May. More than 200 entries came forward across the seventeen classes on the day, providing a wealth of qualifying opportunities for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Your Horse Live.

First up, was the working pony class, which saw the runner-up pony from the Vale View qualifier last month go one better to take top spot. Leah Edgar was delighted to take the win with her young New-Forest pony, Muddycreek Milford. Leah’s mum, Michelle Egdar said: “We bought Milford last September just broken, he could barely canter a circle. After they came second at their first Search for a Star qualifier, we had to come back! Milford is 5 this year, he is an absolute treasure. They will do everything over the summer, including cross country. Leah is delighted to have earned their HOYS ticket.” Leah and Milford will also compete in novice working hunter pony classes this season. Leah works as an NHS Resourcing Coordinator.

Perseverance paid off for the working horse winners, Rebekah Young and her own, Pferde Stud Cezanne. A thrilled Rebekah said: “As soon as I realised we had won, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. It has been such a long journey, but we have got there. I have owned Kez as we call him since he was weaned as a foal. He has had so many problems, both in his wellbeing and physically. My vet said he must be 27-years-old not 11 with the issues he has had! But I bought him with my savings and couldn’t afford another one so we have kept at it.” Rebekah plans to go to several shows with Kez over the summer including South of England and the working show horse class at Royal International. Rebekah continued: “I am a full-time carer for my mum, who has suffered two horrific car crashes. She is so excited that we have qualified for HOYS. She burst into tears too, I just hope she makes it to see us us get to HOYS.”

Another five-year-old earned a ticket in the Hunter class at Bury Farm. Karen Shutler has broken in and produced her winning horse, Jacob’s Finn from an untouched three-year-old. Karen said: “I am shocked that we won. We were pulled in third and then the ride judge commented on how balanced he was and the conformation judge liked him too so we were moved up! I bought Jacob’s Finn after my horse of 16 years died from colic. I am no show rider, but he is still only five and so I don’t want to jump him too soon and he seems to have taken to the ring like a duck to water. We came 4th in the first Search for a Star qualifier this year, there is such a great atmosphere at these shows and the judges’ comments have been very helpful.” Karen works as a police community support officer and she and Jacob’s Finn have also qualified for the SEIB Trailblazers dressage championships this summer.

Clare Sender and her own mare, Layballands Royal Pageant won the Riding Horse Hack class. Clare said: “We are quite new to proper showing and it is great that we have qualified. I bought Flo, as she is known, five years ago as a five-year-old. We have taken things slowly and in 2021 started going to some proper shows, we were placed a few times, including a 4th in the amateur class at Royal Windsor last year and competed in Search for a Star at Bury Farm 2021 where we were unplaced. It has been a great learning curve and she went so well in Search for a Star this time. I was a keen Pony Club member around 25 years ago, but then had a big gap in riding and it is wonderful now to be back out with the horses.” Layballands Royal Pageant was bred by Diane Brereton, out of a successful hack mare.

Homebred riding horse, Sir Altinkum took runner up spot in the riding horse hack class with Zara Thain from Essex. Zara bred this striking bay gelding as a showjumper, she said: “What a result at our first ever Search for a Star qualifier – and second ever showing show! He simply doesn’t love showjumping so I decided we would have a go at showing instead. The judges commented that he is a lovely horse and just needs slowing and lifting slightly, so we have plenty to work on!” Sir Altinkum was the first horse Zara bred from her jumping mare. She continued: “I competed his dam in international jumping classes on the Sunshine Tour, she is a warmblood by Contender. We will head to some more shows over the summer including the riding horses at Royal Norfolk. Sir Altinkum will keep showing and all being well we will aim for open classes in the future.”

Felicity Benton and her bay gelding, Dali Havidson won the cob and maxi cob class. Felicity said: “Search for a Star and HOYS was our goal for 2022, we are over the moon. He was incredible, it was a busy class with plenty of quality of cobs, you hope to do well but then the opposition looked great! I’ve had horses and ponies for a long time and HOYS has always been something that I would love to do. I’d lost confidence a bit and got Hughie as we call him at the end of 2020, we didn’t do much that first winter but went to a BD camp in Easter last year and everything clicked from there. We are now competing at elementary level in dressage and we won the amateur maxi cob class last year at the Festival of Showing.” Felicity and Hughie have also qualified for the amateur maxi cob championship at Royal International. They will also compete in some working show horse classes and dressage over the summer.

Irish Draught, Arthur’s Knight and Charlotte Creton took second place in the cob class at Bury Farm. Charlotte said: “This is our first ever showing show! We compete in dressage and several people have said we should do showing so here we are! Some of my friends have ridden him at home and the ride judge loved him. We will go out for a few more practices in the show ring between now and HOYS. I bought Arthur as a three-year-old and broke him in myself, he’s 13 now and we have taken things slowly. We are competing at elementary level in dressage and I’m hoping to move up to medium this year. This is our first proper affiliated year.” Charlotte works as a groom at a private yard, she continued: “Arthur lives at the yard too, it is so helpful and I have time to concentrate on him.”

The middleweight, Rich Man Poor Man took the Racehorse to Riding Horse class ridden by Kirstine Douglas. Owned by Morean Hamilton, this bay gelding was in training with Philip Kirby in North Yorkshire. Kirstine said: “He is such a proper old-fashioned thoroughbred, an unbelievably attractive horse and a nice person too. Rich Man Poor Man is big and came out of racing as a four-year-old, we have taken our time with him and he hasn’t been out too much. I feel with the racehorses they are in such a routine when they are in training it really takes them time to adapt to their new routines.” Rich Man Poor Man and Kirstine have enjoyed two top three finishes in the RoR class at the Great Yorkshire show, last year they won the Scottish Tattersalls Supreme championship and also the reserve supreme of show at Aintree as well. Kirstine continued: “He is qualified for RIHS this year and Royal Highland 2023. We recently took 4th place in a middleweight hunter HOYS qualifier.”

Racehorse to Riding Horse runner-up, Mr Grey, owned and ridden by Lucy Burton is also a first-time qualifier for the HOYS final. A delighted Lucy said: “We went to a few qualifiers in 2021, having been out of it for a long time we hadn’t realised quite how high the standard now is in the Racehorse to Riding Horse classes. Mr Grey spent last winter whipping in for the Bicester with my father, Ben Burton. He was originally in training with Ben Case who is local to us. He was no good as a racehorse – he was a complete runaway.” Lucy and Mr Grey did however win the sidesaddle dash at Larkhill point to point earlier this year. Mr Grey and Lucy have also taken second place twice in the racehorse class at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Lucy added: “I did quite a bit of showing until I was 16 or 17 and then point to pointing took over. I’ve had three winners so far.” Lucy and Mr Grey will attend a few more Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifiers for experience and some RoR challenge classes before heading to HOYS.”

In the traditional cob Search for a Star HOYS qualifying class, Kirsty Sheath and her palomino and white gelding, Hermits Golden Safari took the top spot. Kirsty said: “I am delighted, we have owned him for the last two years but he has had severe ulcers and travelling has been a big issue. We now seem to have the ulcers under control, but I didn’t think he would win here today. He went foot perfectly. We went to the Vale View qualifier last month and the judges gave me some great advice. It was the same judge today and they were pleased that we had taken the advice on board.” Hermits Golden Safari is the first traditional cob that Kirsty and her mum Jean Sheath have owned. Kirsty continued: “My mum always wanted a traditional and he was our lockdown purchase – I think mum had pretty much bought him before she’d even seen him. He loves life though and hacks, jumps and has the best attitude. We have now just bought another young traditional!”

Search for a Star has helped the mental health of the runner-up in the traditional cob class at Bury Farm. Tara Kingston-Smith who rode her chestnut blagdon gelding, Valiant Soldier to second place in the class said: “Search for a Star has made my goal of getting to HOYS achievable. We have tried before in CHAPS classes but it seemed out of reach. I’ve had a really tough time with post-natal depression and was rushed into hospital just before the qualifier. It has really given me something to look forward to. Having a focus is helping my mental health problems.” Tara has owned Soldier since he was a foal. She continued: “I was working away from home in an event yard and my unhorsey mum rang to say she’d just bought a 14-month-old traditional cob! I wasn’t sure what we would do with him, but I had a few falls and having lost confidence moved back home. I began working with Soldier on the ground – I’d never done showing before – and we went to our first in-hand show where he took the championship and its all gone on from there.” Tara and Soldier also compete in British Dressage to novice level,hunting and showjumping.

The first Search for a Star Your Horse Live qualifying class of the day, the Mountain and Moorland, saw a Fell pony take the win. Kirsty Lewis rode her partner, Ashton Eyre’s pony, Highstell Alpha to top spot. Kirsty said: “I couldn’t believe it, he is a superstar! I did Search for a Star years ago when there was working hunter and just missed out a couple of times. Finally I’ve got there! My partner is a farrier and always had a soft spot for Highstell Alpha and he was gifted him by his old owner. He’s been out on loan with a few families and now we have him back for a bit of showing. We have also competed in BSPS classes and go out jumping and on sponsored rides too. We don’t have a school so he doesn’t get ridden much in the winter. It’s a real team effort with plenty of early mornings and late evenings!”

Millie Bowles and the 25-year-old, Welsh Section B, Cottrell Riverdance followed up great success in the Search for a Star Your Horse Live finals in 2021 with a win in the open veteran class at Bury Farm. The new Search for a Star open veteran championship is open to all riders and horses or ponies – over 16-years-old – whether amateur or professional. Known as Ronnie at home, Cottrell Riverdance is owned by Millie’s mother Selina. The pair won the in-hand veteran and amateur ridden veteran Search for a Star final in 2021. Selina said: “Millie and Ronnie really enjoyed the qualifier, it was a big class and Ronnie simply loves being in the ring with others – he is showing no signs of slowing down! Millie is 19 now and it is so lucky she never outgrew him. We can’t wait to back to Your Horse Live again this year, we really enjoyed watching the open veteran class in 2021 – particularly the innovative scoring system used with score cards similar to Strictly! A former games pony, Ronnie came to the Bowles’ at 18 years-old for a quieter life.

The part-bred traditional class was won by Helen Jackson and her skewbald gelding, Addien Toy Soldier. Helen has known this part-bred Welsh x traditional cob since he was 6 months old and helped with backing him before buying him shortly after. She said: I always thought we would give Search for a Star a go and we had planned to do the qualifier at Vale View back in April but before then Addien Toy Soldier was so unwell we thought it was going to be the end of our season. We had been out competing and that evening some friends from the yard phoned and said that Addien Toy Soldier was poorly. It turned out he had pneumonia, after several tests, our vet suggested he could have got it from choking on some hay or feed. Luckily he is now fully recovered and looking and going great.”

Helen is planning to take Addien Toy Soldier to some more Search for a Star qualifiers – she would love to get to HOYS in the working pony championship – the pair came 5th in this class at Bury Farm. They are also planning to have fun over the summer and go on a few riding holidays and to Equifest. Helen works as a mounted police officer. She continued: “My job is great and it fits in very well around the showing – we get every Sunday off unless there is a football match, most of these are in the winter so it leaves me free to go to shows most Sundays in the summer.”

Plenty of entries came forward in the new Search for a Star Pony Club classes at Bury Farm. In the lead rein class, six-year-old Emily Hiscox and her mother Heather Hiscox’s pony, Thistledown Elpaso won first place. Elvis, as the pony is known at home has been owned by the Hiscox’s and ridden by Emily for four years now. Heather said: “This is our first Search for a Star show and it couldn’t have gone better, we are delighted! Emily and Elvis do everything together – Emily would ride Elvis all day, every day if she could. They have done farm rides, tetrathlon, shows and pony club camp together.” Emily is a member of the North Warwickshire Pony Club and she and Elvis began competing at some bigger shows in 2021, the pair won the Pretty Polly championship at the RIHS. Emily is a pupil at Leamington Hastings Church of England Academy in Rugby.

Lucia Cable and Desabre Sparrow Hawk won the Pony Club First Ridden class at Bury Farm. Owned by Lucia’s mother, Victoria, Desabre Sparrow Hawk and Lucia compete in Pony Club activities with the Puckeridge Hunt branch and showing classes. Victoria said: “The moment we heard there would be a Pony Club Search for a Star championship, we knew we had to give it a go. Sparrow Hawk is the best pony, he is quality, bombproof and won’t let you down. They also compete in hunter trials, camp, dressage and tetrathlon. Lucia is now 9 and joined the Pony Club when she was three. This year our showing goals were to qualify for Search for a Star at Your Horse Live and qualify for the RIHS – which we have also done for the first time in the Pretty Polly championship! Bury Farm was the perfect venue for the qualifier and it was ever such a friendly show.” Lucia attends St Anne’s Prep school in Chelmsford.

Helena Kitchener and her mother, Naomi Kitchener’s Connemara pony, Cavan Mick won the Open Pony Club Search for a Star qualifier. Naomi said: “We didn’t know what to expect at all really.  It was very helpful to have the set show, and the judges and stewards were hugely helpful and supportive - telling us when to strip for the conformation judging, the judge politely requesting Helena tried running up her pony again and this time turning him away from her, explaining that she needs to move around the pony as he does so she’s not blocking his view of the pony.  In addition, we met some hugely supportive competitors and their grooms, who explained how things work and gave us some top tips for next time (including borrowing a tweed jacket that doesn’t swamp Helena).

“The online guide to Search for a Star was very helpful too - it is amazing what you can borrow.  We borrowed a saddle, bridle and bit for the day.  We did also follow the advice and spoke to a lovely lady and her daughters who have shown, and they did a mock show with us to try to explain to Helena what to do when.  We are very grateful to them for their help.   There is no substitute to experiencing it for yourself - turns out there’s lots to practise before YHL!” Helena and Mickey have also had great success recently in Tetrathlon for the Southern England team at the Pony Club International Regional Pony Club Tetrathlon competition. Helena is a member of the Mid Surry branch of the Pony Club and attends Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst, Surrey.

Welsh part-bred, Ryehall Petit Ami (Alan) and his owner and handler, Lisa Hayyez won the in-hand plaited pony class. A thrilled Lisa said: “This is the first Search for a Star qualifier we have done, he is a real newbie for me. Alan was owned by a friend and she wanted to sell him, I fell in love with him. I got him on loan last September and now have just bought him. It was such a good day at Bury Farm, the show was really well run and a great experience. To be honest I’m still in shock that we won and have qualified!”  Lisa has been showing for 43 years, she got her first taste of success in the ring when showing Percheron horses with her father at the county shows. She explained: “I was aged 5 and went off with my dad and the Percherons to the county shows, we went to Surrey County, East of England and several others.” Lisa plans in time to produce Alan for first ridden and lead rein showing. She added: “The Search for a Star experience is just great for him to help get out and about.”

Grace Willis and her rescue pony, World Horse Welfare Paolo won the in-hand traditional native class at Bury Farm. Grace said: “A friend suggested we give Search for a Star a go and here we are! It is great that it went so well especially as this was our first big show. Paolo’s mum was rescued by World Horse Welfare when she was in foal with him. He was born at Hall Farm and then came to Writtle College where I was studying when he was a yearling. I fell in love with him then and he is now nine so we have known each other for a while! I studied for a degree in Equine Behavioural Science at Writtle which has been really useful with Paolo. It is great that he was born at Hall Farm and so has never suffered neglect himself, but he had to be operated on and as a result he became really worried about travelling and getting in the trailer. The skills I learned in my degree came in very useful in helping him over come this, clicker training has improved his confidence whilst travelling no end.” Grace and Paolo also competed in the ridden traditional cob class at Bury Farm but were unplaced. Grace plans to try and compete in the ridden traditional class at a few more Search for a Star qualifiers this season. The pair have also competed in dressage at the Hickstead sunshine tour. Grace works on a farm, she added: “Paolo loves coming up to the farm and seeing the lambs and goats and their kids.”

Following up a win in the in-hand plaited pony class at the Vale View Search for a Star qualifier, Gemma Viles and her dark bay gelding, Peter Pan won the in-hand veteran class at Bury Farm. Gemma said: “We do quite a few veteran classes and knew several of the people in the qualifier. When we were pulled in third I thought that was where we would finish, so was delighted we were moved up.  We mainly compete in-hand, he can get quite excited when he is ridden! I can’t wait for Your Horse Live!”  Gemma has owned Peter Pan – known as Harvey at home – for the last 18 years, she bought Harvey from Endon Riding School. Gemma works at the Royal Stoke Hospital as a Discharge Facilitator.

Michelle Prentice and Jo Stewart’s Welsh section A, Amilas Slumberdown won the in-hand mountain and moorland. Michelle said: “It really hasn’t sunk in, Jo his owner is a really good friend and I am so pleased for her. This is the first Search for a Star we have been to, we have been to some affiliated shows but he doesn’t seem to get a look in there so this is great. Amilas Slumberdown was gelded late as a 10-year-old, I backed him then too and fell in love with him. Jo has owned him since he was a yearling. We are so far unbeaten in-hand in our three shows we have been to this year. We will do some mountain and moorland classes and Equifest in the run up to Your Horse Live.”

SEIB’s Marketing Manager, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “We are delighted to see plenty of people coming forward to have a go at Search for a Star this year. Our new classes have been so well supported at Bury Farm. We always try to think ahead and ensure that our shows are run efficiently and offer something for everyone, we have a great team of people at Search for a Star where nothing is ever too much trouble. We’ve listened to our competitors and taken the cost of living crisis seriously. We have done what we can with the new classes, to offer competitors travelling to one of our shows the opportunity to compete – and maybe qualify – in two or more classes. The Stoneleigh Search for a Star qualifier will run again this year at the same time as the SEIB Trailblazers Championship to provide multiple competition opportunities for riders, with just the one journey.”

For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see

Results SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse Bury Farm May 22nd 2022.

HOYS Qualifying classes:

Class 1A Working Horse – Muddycreek Milford, owned and ridden by Leah Edgar from Manchester

Class 1B Working Pony – Pferde Stud Cezanne, owned and ridden by Rebekah Young from West Sussex

Class 2 Show Hunter – 1st Jacob’s Finn, owned and ridden by Karen Shutler from Nottinghamshire

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 1st Layballands Royal Pageant, owned and ridden by Clare Sender from Kent

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 2nd Sir Altinkum, owned and ridden by Zara Thain from Essex

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 1st Dali Havidson, owned and ridden by Felicity Benton from Lincolnshire

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 2nd Arthur’s Knight, owned and ridden by Charlotte Creton from Surrey

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 1st Rich Man Poor Man, owned by Morean Hamilton and ridden by Kirstine Douglas from Dumfries and Galloway

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 2nd Mr Grey, owned and ridden by Lucy Burton from Warwickshire

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours - 1st Hermits Golden Safari, owned and ridden by Kirsty Sheath from Buckinghamshire

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours – 2nd Valiant Soldier, owned and ridden by Tara Kingston-Smith from Derbyshire

Your Horse Live qualifying classes:

Class 7 Mountain and Moorland – 1st Highstell Alpha, owned by |Ashton Eyre and ridden by Kirsty Lewis from East Sussex

Class 8 Open Ridden Veteran Horse and Pony – 1st Cottrell Riverdance, owned by Selina Bowles and ridden by Millie Bowles from Kent

Class 9 Part-Bred Traditional Gypsy Cob – 1st Addien Toy Soldier, owned and ridden by Helen Jackson from Yorkshire

Class 10 Pony Club Lead Rein Pony – 1st Thistledown Elpaso, owned by Heather Hiscox and ridden by Emily Hiscox from Warwickshire

Class 11 Pony Club First Ridden Type – 1st Desarbre Sparrow Hawk, owned by Victoria Cable and ridden by Lucia Cable from Essex

Class 12 Pony Club Open Horse or Pony – 1st  Cavan Mick, owned by Naomi Kitchener and ridden by Helena Kitchener from Surrey

Class 13 Amateur In-Hand Plaited Horse including Hogged Show Cob – 1st Randall IV, owned and handled by Lucy Ashworth from Oxfordshire

Class 14 Amateur In-Hand Plaited Pony – 1st Ryehill Petit Ami, owned and handled by Lisa Hayyez from Buckinghamshire

Class 15 Amateur In-Hand Traditional and Native Type – 1st World Horse Welfare Paolo, owned and handled by Grace Willis from Essex

Class 16 Amateur In-Hand Veteran Horse or Pony – 1st Peter Pan, owned and handled by Gemma Viles from Staffordshire

Class 17 Amateur In-Hand Mountain and Moorland – 1st Amilas Slumberdown, owned by Jo Stewart and handled by Michelle Prentice from Hertfordshire