A record 198 entries were received for the first SEIB Search For A Star qualifier of the season at the popular Osbaldeston Equestrian Centre, near Preston, Lancashire, on 12th April, where the new indoor warm-up and collecting ring was appreciated as the rain fell all day. Every class was split at least once for the initial judging to maintain safety and give everyone a chance in the indoor arena, while the judges for the day, Richard Ramsay and Chris Lawton (conformation) and David Bartram and David Ingle (ride), had plenty to think about.
A strong entry tackled the rustic course, producing 5 good clears that came back for the final judging by Richard Ramsay and David Bartram.
First place went to Isabel Barker, 30, riding her own grey mare, Cool Cat. Isabel, a farmers wife from Crowle, near Doncaster, has owned the mare for 3 years and bought her from a friend to replace her previous horse that was retired. The pair have done riding club activities and working hunter classes at local level. “She is so laid back and easy to do and she loves jumping”. Next season Isobel and Cool Cat will be field master for the newly formed Yorkshire Farmers bloodhounds, run by two local families. “My previous horse was 22 and retired, and I never thought I would find a horse to replace him”, explained Isabel. “I am absolutely gob smacked, I can’t believe it”. Isabel decided to have a go at Search for a Star after seeing it on Facebook. “We came third at Bramham last year, beaten by professional producers, and we just thought we might have more of a chance here”, she said.
Second place went to 16 year old, Keira Bradley, riding her mother Jo Bradley’s bay mare called Evolution. The family have owned the 7 year old for 3 years and bought her with the intention of doing workers and eventing. Last year, Isabel and Evolution competed in some unaffiliated events at riding club level, hunted with the Cheshire Forest and Cheshire Drag hounds, and they are show jumping up to 1.10m level. “Our aim is to do workers this year and Search for a Star was our main target”, said Jo. “We are also planning to do county level BSPS workers”, she added. The mare was quite difficult to begin with and Keira has had lessons with Jo Callwood and Amy Lenon to help her with jumping and developing a partnership with Evolution. “We have come a long way. She has made a lot of progress and she has made me proud and so happy today. It has not really sunk in yet”, said a delighted Keira. “It is a dream to go to HOYS”. Keira helps international event rider, Alex Huatian, as his “Saturday girl” and gets to ride some of his horses. Evolution is kept at livery locally near Knutsford. The pair plan to do more show jumping and county level working hunter classes this year.
Riding Club Show Horse
The class was split into two sections for the initial judging and competitors completed a rustic and a show jump and a set of trotting poles. Eight horses came back for the final placing, with first place going to Nadine Willis, 31, riding her own homebred, Just Jacques, from County Durham. The 5 year old bay gelding is by Valesco, a local Selle Francais stallion, out of her mother’s thoroughbred mare and they aimed to produce a good all-rounder. “His dam, Little Bid, was a dainty 15.2hh, who was bred to race in Kentucky and then came to the UK and raced on the flat here. We bought her from a dealer and she had lovely paces so we did some dressage before she injured a suspensory. We decided to put her in foal and chose a local stallion with some size and more bone. She is now 24 and we have had her since she was a 3 year old. It is a shame she did not have another foal”, explained Nadine. “Valesco was a real gent and a good jumper. Jack definitely has got his dad’s temperament and size. He excels at show jumping more than cross country, but we have not really found his niche yet”, she said.
Jack was shown in hand as a youngster but this was their first ever ridden show class. “We wanted to try something different. A friend did Search for a Star a few years ago and went to HOYS, so I thought we would give it a go”, she said. Nadine got some advice on turnout and had a couple of lessons with the Jinks showing team, prior to the show and has also had some lessons with local eventer, Sarah Burdess, and show jumper, Nicola Sheard. “This is an absolute shock. He was not phased by anything and he was really forward going. He is usually so laid back, he is just a sweet horse – a gentle giant”, added Nadine. “We will probably do more showing, some show jumping and cross country schooling to get his confidence before heading to HOYS”.
Nadine’s day just kept getting better when she and Jack added to their ribbons by winning the Show Hunter class. Nadine was stunned to take her second win of the day. “I am just too shocked, I came with no expectations and this is amazing”, she said. The rules of SEIB Search for a Star do not allow anyone to compete in two Search for a Star finals at HOYS, and so Nadine then had to decide whether to take Jack to HOYS as a Riding Club Show Horse or as a Hunter. As he is such a good stamp of hunter she decided that would be her choice.
Second place went to Annie Farrimond riding her own chestnut mare, Anya, who she has owned for 4 years. “She came to us as a hunter and had previously only been a hunter hireling”, explained Annie, who still hunts regularly with the Pendle Forest & Craven Hunt. Annie wanted to do some eventing and started at BE 80 level 2 years ago and was successful finishing 9th at Cumwhinton Horse Trials, a feat they repeated last year at BE 90 level, also finishing 7th at Brooksby Horse Trials. “I have always followed showing and the girls at the yard have some lovely show horses, so we decided to have a go. Nothing phases her, she even hacks down the A59 past big cement wagons, and she is careful, so the jumping was no problem”, said Annie, a self employed energy assessor working in property marketing. “When we first got her she had done no schooling and could only go in straight lines. We have been concentrating on her flatwork and she is now ready to do some other things. Annie’s partner usually accompanies her to shows but was away competing himself this weekend – he is international shooting competitor, Michael Meggison, who has represented Great Britain in 2 Olympic games and is the only person to win the British Championships in all 3 Firearms events, pistol, rifle and shotgun. Annie plans to do more eventing this season and some show jumping, but will also do some more showing to get ready for HOYS.
A very strong class was split into two sections for the initial judging Richard Ramsay and David Ingle. In the final judging, first place went to Beseeka Lady Luck, owned and ridden by Jessica Neachell, 22, a farmers wife from Aldridge, West Midlands. “Lady”, a beautiful 5 year old liver chestnut, was a Christmas present from Jessica’s husband and was the best sort of present she could have wished for. Having previously shown a 15hh coloured working hunter pony, Jessica was looking for a show horse. The pair went to Ponies UK Winter Championships but Lady has been lightly shown in preparation for this season. “We wanted to have a go at Search for a Star, and also try open hack or riding horse classes”, said a delighted Jessica, who was helped by family and friends on the day. “It was a big class and I had no confidence”, said Jessica, “I am gob smacked!” The pair have been doing a lot of schooling in preparation for the event. “She has her moments and was a bit testing at first, but she is a good girl most of the time. We need to do lots of preparation before HOYS, especially getting her used to the clapping”, she added.
Second place went to Samantha Wallin, 46, from Chipping Camden, riding her own ex-racehorse, Tallest Peak. The lovely bay gelding, known at home as Coco, was in training with Johnny Butler and won on the flat before retiring from the racecourse 2 years ago. Samantha bought him from the trainer and started retraining Coco for a career in the show ring, giving him plenty of time to adjust to his new life. “He was straight out of racing and it takes a while for them to change. We have done a few local shows as experience but this is his first ever proper show”, said a delighted Samantha, who runs Cotswold Canapes, a catering company. “I got him to do the ex-racehorse classes, so this is a lovely bonus”. Samantha has attended a number of retraining clinics organised by Claire Poole, a former Search for a Star competitor who now competes in SEIB’s Racehorse to Riding Horse classes and is the Retraining of Racehorses South West Regional Co-ordinator. “We have worked hard through the winter and the clinics have been brilliant – I have got to train with people like [top show horse producer] Louise Bell. Louise suggested that I should try him in Riding Horse classes. He has the most fantastic temperament, which has helped, but he had found the way of going correctly seriously hard”, explained Samantha. The pair will be aiming at more ex-racehorse classes and will do lots of preparation before the finals at the NEC in October.
A very polished class of Show Ponies and Show Hunter Ponies came before Richard Ramsay and David Bartram. First place went to Sandra Harrison’s lovely grey, Pictus Sleepy Hollow, ridden by Donna Harrison, 18, from Warrington. The Harrisons have owned the 6 year old intermediate Show Pony, called “Angus” at home, for a year and started in novice classes last season. “We just came along today to see what he was like, I can’t believe that we have won!” said a delighted Donna. “I would have been happy if we had been placed – it is my ambition to get to HOYS”. Sandra and Donna have not yet made any plans for more competitions this year, but hope to do some more Small Intermediate Type show classes. “He will cope with the atmosphere at HOYS, he is so laid back he can actually be quite lazy. When he is at home he can be spooky, but at a show he really seems to enjoy it and is a different pony”, she said. This was the first time the pair had competed in a show at this level. The pony’s former owner, Donna Howarth, was at the show to support and acted as groom for Donna on the day. “I had him since he was a scruffy yearling – you would not recognise him today. I am very proud of him”, she said. Donna’s dad, Ken, makes up the support team, driving to shows and giving moral support, and the whole family will be making the trip to the Finals at the NEC in October.
Second place went to Bobby Dazzler III, owned by Adele Baldwin and ridden by her daughter, Courtney Baldwin, 13, from Blackpool. “Bobby”, a 6 year old chestnut gelding, has New Forest x part bred arab breeding. He was bought unbroken by Adele three years ago and she backed and brought him on. “Courtney had a 13hh pony last year and she started to do some show hunter pony classes with Bobby. She loves jumping and Bobby jumps really well so our main aim is to do working hunter pony this year, but we thought we would give this a go”, said Adele. “This is our first try, and it is a dream to qualify for HOYS”, said an excited Courtney, a pupil at St Georges School, Blackpool. “He is quite a cheeky pony at home, but he likes cuddles and is a lovely pony”, she added. The pair love hacking and have done some cross country and show jumping and will also try some part bred New Forest show classes this year.
First place went to the lovely bay gelding, Just Jacques, ridden by Nadine Willis who was stunned to take her second win of the day. “I am just too shocked, I came with no expectations and this is amazing”, she said. Nadine then had to decide whether to take Jack to HOYS as a Riding Club Show Horse or as a Hunter, and as he is such a good stamp of hunter she decided that would be her choice.
Second place went to Stacey Bennett, 34, from Sheffield, riding her own 9 year old mare, Newport Gypsy. Stacey bought the lovely grey mare, known as Kerry at home, as a 3 year old and backed and brought her on herself. Since then the pair have done mainly riding club activities, and “a bit of everything”. “I am absolutely thrilled. We have done a bit more showing over the last couple of years, mainly in Irish Draft and show hunter classes”, explained Stacey. The pair were 7th in the finals at the Irish Draft Breed show at Lincoln two years ago, but did not compete last year as Stacey had a baby. She aimed to compete again this season and went to a talent spotting clinic with Sarah Chapman in March and she suggested that Stacey and Kerry should do Search for a Star. “Kerry is so easy to do, she just gets on with it. It is so good, especially with children around – when I was bathing her ready for the show one of the children ran right under her holding on to the shovel. She just looked down as if to say ‘young person coming under’ and did not move, when so many horses would have jumped”. Kerry was also wearing her new show bridle which had been specially made by a friend, Jess Clancy. “It is now my lucky bridle!” laughed Stacey, who plans to do more showing this year. “I have always dreamed of riding at HOYS. I go every year just to watch and dream, never thinking I would ever actually get to ride there!”
A good group of Show Cobs and Maxi Cobs were judged by Richard Ramsay and David Ingle, again in two sections before the final placings. First place went to Hortons Groovey, ridden by Charlotte France, 28, and owned by her mother, Denise France, from Newcastle on Tyne. The 8 year old chestnut gelding was bought in September last year from Kaye Gillham, who charlotte had helped at Equifest show last year. Charlotte has ridden ponies and then had a small hunter but it was very naughty and she was put off after a nasty fall. “Kaye new that we were looking for something to show and she rang to say that she would sell us this horse on condition that we did Search for a Star! She is so lovely and will be ecstatic!” said Denise. “I wasn’t expecting to do well today, it was more about experience. This is just the cherry on the cake!” said Charlotte. “We have done a couple of hunt rides and some jumping lessons. He has really helped me build up my conference. I was so nervous and worked up and he is really helping me. He is just what we wanted”, she said. The pair plan to compete at Newark and Notts, Hambledon, Great Yorkshire and North East Counties shows as a novice light weight cob and concentrate on preparation for HOYS. Hortons Groovey is kept locally at a livery yard and Charlotte fits in riding around her busy job as a Small Business Team manager for EE.
Second place went to Super Ted II, owned and ridden by Kate Read, 29. Kate has had the 5 year old blue and white coloured maxi cob for about a year and he was just backed when she got him. Kate explained, “We have just been doing all round education. He has done a couple of Walk-trot dressage tests and he qualified for a local championship where he was reserve champion. He has done a bit of jumping and hacking in groups and we introduced him to hunting this season, just quietly at the back of the field on quiet days”. Kate had done Search for a Star a few years ago with a riding horse that she also evented, and decided that it would be a good start for “Teddy”, as he is called at home. “This is only his 3rd ever show and he has never had a ride judge before”, she said. “Today was to see where we were, and how far off, I never expected to do this. He has only been out once this year to do a walk trot dressage test and he was a bit wow, but today he has taken it so well. It is the longest journey he has ever done. He will be a bit tired when he gets home”, said Kate, who works as an equine physiotherapist. “The dressage helps him to work from behind and he is really light in the hand. He is a big horse and I don’t want him to tug me around. We have still got a lot of work to do”, said Kate, who hopes to start jumping him and aims to do working cob classes in the future.
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 Cool Cat, owned and ridden by Isabel Barker from Crowle, N Lincs
2nd Evolution, owned by Mrs Jo Bradley and ridden by Keira Bradley from Cheshire
Riding Club Show Horse
1st Just Jacques, owned and ridden by Nadine Willis of
2nd Anya, owned and ridden by Annie Farrimond of Clitheroe, Lancs
1st Beseeka Lady Luck, owned and ridden by Jessica Neachell of Aldridge, W Midlands
2nd Tallest Peak, owned and ridden by Samantha Wallin of Weston Slibedge, Glos
1st Pictus Sleepy Hollow, owned by Sandra Harrison and ridden by Donna Harrison of Warrington
2nd Bobby Dazzler III, owned by Adele Baldwin and ridden by Coutney Baldwin of Blackpool
1st Just Jacques, owned and ridden by Nadine Willis of Chester Le Street, Co Durham
2nd Newport Gypsy, owned and ridden by Stacey Bennet of Barnsley
1st Hortons Groovey, owned by Denise France and ridden by Charlotte France of Newcastle upon Tyne
2nd Super Ted II, owned and ridden by Kate Read of Wressle, Yorkshire