The SEIB Search for a Star and SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse series continued at Stretcholt Equestrian Centre in Somerset on Sunday 12 June. A good entry saw several classes split for the initial judging by the regular Search for a Star team, Richard Ramsay, David Bartram, Chris Lawton and David Ingle.

The straight forward but up to height course gave riders something to think about with some faults, but no particular fence caused the problems. Five horses went clear to go through to the final judging and Geoffrey, owned by Louise Halsall and ridden by Emma Wilson, 33, from Warwickshire, took the top spot. The 5 year old rose grey gelding came over from Ireland in December and had previously been hunting. “He is the perfect ladies hunter”, said Emma. “Louise brings horses from Ireland to sell on as hunters, but we decided to keep Geoffrey as he is so beautiful”. Emma has done some dressage and show jumping, and has won at local shows, but this was their first ever working hunter class. “We came here as we wanted to give him several chances. We have never done any showing shows”. Geoffrey is by the ID stallion, Cranag Hero and hunted last season with the Warwickshire. Emma works as a hunter groom for Louise.

Second place went to Harry Duke, owned by Carolyn Elwes and ridden by Georgie Patrick, 50, from Farnam, Surrey. The 9 year old dapple grey came to Carolyn 18 months ago. He originally came from Ireland as a hunter and hunted in Dorset before moving to Surrey. “He is very strong and Carolyn asked me to school him and do some jumping. I used to event but I have 2 children and so I don’t event any more, but we have done some dressage to music and working hunter classes. I last did working hunter classes 35 years ago!”, she said. The pair have qualified for the regional dressage to music finals and plan to do more showing. “We did amateur workers at Bath & West but I was very nervous – this is much nicer!”, said a delighted Georgie, who runs her own private yard with her two retired eventers and Carolyn is a hunting friend.

Riding Club Show Horse
The two fences and trotting poles produced 9 clears to go forward to the final judging. First place went to Alvescot Peppi, owned and ridden by Shiela Williams. The 7yo bay gelding has been owned by Sheila since October. He was bought to BE event, and since then he has achieved 2 fourth places and qualified regional final in grassroots eventing. “We have also done some dressage here at Stretcholt, and have qualified for the Badminton grass roots dressage”, explained Sheila. Peppie was bought from the Alvescot stud and had previously done a bit of show jumping. “He has won rosettes on most outings so far”, said Sheila, who works part time for Countrywide near Bridgewater. Shiela has ridden all her life and done show jumping, dressage and eventing. “We live only 5 minutes away, so thought we would give this a go. It was a childhood dream to compete at HOYS, and my other aim is to qualify for Badminton Grassroots final. This is the first time we have done any showing, I never dreamed we would win. This has fulfilled a childhood ambition, it is so exciting!”

Second place went to Opium Europa UK, known as Poppy, owned and ridden by Lucille Bryan, 38. Lucille bought the 10 year old grey mare just 3 weeks ago as a show jumper. “She is perfect, and so well mannered. She is all business when she is tacked up but so mannerly at home. My friend did SFAS and suggested that we have a go and we just got the entry in by the closing date. I have never done a showing class but she was perfect. I was looking for a reliable horse to jump that I can trust, and we will do a bit of everything. I am very lucky to have found her, she is so good and I am very excited to try other things. She was bred to jump, Parco is her grandsire, and she is AES registered. She was previously ridden by international show jumper, Leoni Aikenhead, a junior nations cup rider, and had been jumping 1.45m”, explained Lucille. “She is so good to come back to this and looks after me”. Lucille had a 10 year break from riding and got back in the saddle 3 years ago. She spends a lot of time travelling with her husband, international tennis player Mike Bryan, and so she wanted a horse that she felt confident getting back on after a break. “He is kept at a yard near Aberdare in the Brecon Beacons and Sara Richards rides him when I am away. She has done some dressage and pole work with her”, said Lucille, who is originally from the village of Hirwaun, nr Aberdare. “I will be at Wimbledon for next few weeks and will come back to riding when Mike is at the Olympics. I have to fit in riding around travelling but I will definitely need to fit in more shows now!”, explained Lucille, who used to work for Grandstand Media in hospitality and always dreamed of competing at HOYS. “It is amazing – I have always said to my husband that this is the Wimbledon of horses.

Riding horse/Hack
This strong class was split for the initial judging but in the final placing it was Izzat Starlight, known as Isabel, ridden by Elisha Melnyk, 21, from Wigan, who took first place. The 7 year old grey mare was the result of an accidental covering when her dam, an ex-racehorse, got in with a friend’s pure bred arab stallion, Quedaro, by The Legend, out of Mel Queda. “As soon as she popped out I loved her and she has been good ever since. She came out black, and was steel grey a year later. We broke her in November 2014. I love showing and that is what I wanted to do”, explained Elisha. The pair competed in novice classes last year and have qualified for the RI in PBA class. They went to the SFAS qualifier at Osbaldeston but Isabel was very green and they were not placed. “This year our aim has been to do the SEIB SFAS HOYS qualifiers. She got kicked in the line-up at Osbaldeston and it unsettled her, and we were 5th at Houghton. She then had a bit of a holiday with just some hacking, before coming here. She just keeps getting better!” said Elisha.

Second place went to Kimberley Gould’s Spanish Hidalgo, ridden by Emma Hutcheon, 24, from Congleton. Kimberley previously worked for racehorse trainer, John Dunlop, and was gifted this ex-racehorse, a former group 3 classic winner of the Italian St Ledger, when he was retired from racing. She shares the riding with friend, Emma, who has never done any showing previously and came to SFAS for experience. “I am so happy to have done it this time. We did SFAS a month ago at Houghton Hall and were disqualified because the address was not up to date in the passport. I can’t begin to say how gutted I was. It makes this all the more special. I really am chuffed to bits. I wanted to come back and have another go. Kim will be so pleased”, said Emma, a ruminant specialist whose occupation is fertility testing bulls. Kimberley was heavily pregnant at the first qualifier and did not to travel to Stretcholt.

First place went to Louis Faithful, owned and bred by Karen Neachell and ridden by Daisy Adams, 12, from the West Midlands. Daisy lost her own pony 3 months ago and has had the 10 year old bay gelding on loan for 8 weeks. He has not been shown very much but has done fun rides, local shows and riding club activities with Daisy. The pony was bred by Sara Neachell, by a welsh stallion out of Basford Tanzonite. “It is so lovely for Daisy to have won, after losing her own pony. It means so much”, said Daisy’s mum, Jo. “We have had so much help and support from Sara”, she added.

Second place went to Newoak Flower Girl, owned by Margaret Kivell and ridden by her granddaughter, Emma James, 13, from Helston, Cornwall. “We lost Emma’s previous pony to laminitis and when we found “Petal”, We had to have her – she is identical to the one we lost. She has just the most wonderful temperament”, explained Emma’s mum, Clare James. They bought the pony direct from the breeders, Joyce and Jacky Newbery at Newoak Stud. “We took one look at her and fell in love! This was the only venue we could get to as the others are all so far away. And this is Emma’s last year that she is eligible for the class”, said a delighted Clare. The family live on a beef production farm in west Cornwall and Emma regularly rides around the farm and the local village. “All the girls in the village love Petal”, added Clare. The pair will compete at the NPS championships at Malvern and then the Royal International where they will do the Pretty Polly class for amateur riders, the open 14.2hh show pony class and the part-bred arab class. “Emma had done local shows but this is the first pony we have had of this quality. We are just taking it as it comes!”, said Clare. “I have always had a dream of going to HOYS. We went to watch last year”, said an excited Emma, who is a student at Camborne School where she is able to use equestrian activities as part of her GCSE in PE.

Show Hunter
First place went to Yorkies Purple Diamond, owned and ridden by Vicki Rogers, 38, from Salcombe, Devon. The pure Irish Draught chestnut mare, known as Lottie, was bred by Gina Exley and Vicki has owned the 8 year old since she was a yearling. “I bought her as a brood mare and she has had 2 foals”, she explained. The mare, by Connaught Grey out of Dalton Gem is a Hornby Premium Class 1 brood mare recognised by the Irish Draught breed society of GB. She has been shown successfully in hand and was National Reserve Supreme Yearling at the ID National Championships show. “She was broken 2 years ago and hunted last season with the South Devon”, said Vicki. They did a few local ridden shows last year but this is their first proper season in hunter classes and they have qualified for the Royal International. At the Bath & West Show they took 6th in the Novice Hunter, 4th in the ID class and 4th in the Amateur hunter class. They also took Reserve Champion in the ID/Sport horse class, despite being the only ID in the class. “I hope that she might be in foal to Corrindon Dancer, a Premium ID stallion owned by my mother, Margaret Brooks, and Doreen Hoare. It’s not confirmed yet, so HOYS will come just in time!”, said Vicki, a special needs school teacher who was supported at the show by her dad, Barry Brooks, who was acting as driver and groom and also does the horses when Vicki is at work. The day was a family affair, with Vicki’s 15 month old daughter, Libby, keen to show her appreciation of her mother’s win.

Second place went to Kerry Dunkley, 39, from Taunton, riding her own grey gelding, Brogeen Bronco. Kerry has owned the 14 year old for just a year. He originally came from Ireland and show jumped to grade C level at county shows. He has also hunted with numerous packs including the Ledbury, Taunton Vale and West Somerset, and has been a Master’s horse before Kerry took him on. “I wanted to do showing and workers, but my old horse got a thoroughpin and could not do the work. She has now had a cracking foal. When it comes to jumping, Bronco really looks after me. He is 17.1hh, but he feels really safe”, she said. The pair plan to do more local shows and have some jumping lessons. “I will also do more work on the flat with him and take on all the advice from the judges. I took 6” off his tail after this morning’s class!”, she added. “This is my lifetime dream, and I didn’t ever think it would happen. We have put a lot of work into this, but I still thought it would not be within our reach”, said Kerry, who works as a Senior Business Development Manager for City & Guilds. Kerry was supported on the day by friends and family, including her parents, Lin and John Rennie, friend Deb Herbert and trusty grooms, Caroline and Hilary. “It is a real team effort. Even my husband, Sean, is here!” she laughed. Kerry has ridden since she was a child and first went in the show ring when she was 10 years old, riding her 14.2 pony. “It was Royal Windsor Horse Show, and her riding clothes were all from the charity shop”, added mum, Lin. With her busy job, Kerry often rides and does the horse at 5am. “I am on the road a lot, but I fit in the horse and dogs around work”, she said. “There will never be anything higher than that moment. I was so excited when I thought I might get a rosette, but to qualify for HOYS is unbelievable”.

First place went to South Hill Farm El Toro, owned by Lyn Bugler and ridden by Sarah Nicholls, 25, from. The 8 year old gelding known as Toro is in his second season showing. “We did some local shows and a few county shows to get going”, explained Sarah. Toro was bought to hunt 5 years ago and was hunted twice a week by Lyn with the Weston and Banwell Harriers. Sarah’s dad, Richard Nicholls, had seen the cob out hunting and thought he should go in the show ring. “So I stole him to go showing!” laughed Sarah, who learned about SFAS on the internet. “A friend had qualified in SFAS 2 years ago and he said we had to have a go. I had a tear in the ring, I can’t believe it”. Sarah has loved showing since she was on ponies, having competed in lead rein, first ridden and coloured classes. “Mum, Annette Gibson, and dad have both been the driving force. They are so supportive, and my sister Lisa, they all ride Toro”. Sarah works with her father, who is a master of the Isle of Wedmoor Drag Hounds, running a yard doing breakers, schooling and driving. Sarah plans to do more shows with Toro in preparation for HOYS.

Second place went to Galliano Gold Dust, owned and ridden by Lucy Hamblett, 36, a registered farrier from Cardiff. Lucy was working as a welfare inspector for Cardiff Council when she was called out to deal with some horses that had strayed onto the railway line. She found one mare that had been hit and killed by a train, and another partially blind mare that was suckling the orphaned foal as well as her own 3 week old foal. “That mare was very special, nannying the orphan as well as looking after her own. I took them home until the orphan could be found a home, and kept the mare and her foal. Then she had a fall and broke her leg so she had to be put down. I promised the foal a home for life, and this is him”, Lucy explained. As a youngster, she would take him out for walks on the beach and one day decided that he was ready to be backed. “We were on the beach and I just decided to get on him, and that was that”, she recalls. Lucy calls the 6 year old coloured gelding Coblet, and now does a bit of everything with him. “He is great with people who are nervous – they just get on him. He likes to pop a fence and enjoys everything”, she said. The pair have competed at the Riding Clubs national dressage championships where they won the prelim with the third highest score of the day. “This year has been incredible. This is our first showing show for 2 years. We did SFAS 2 years ago but he was not ready, and this is our first show since! Last week he was looking so good and he felt so well that we thought it would be good to come along and have another go”, explained Lucy. Because of his bad start in life, Lucy is careful not to do too much with him. “He can get sickly quite easily and I think the bad start that he had has left him with a compromised immune system. So I am very careful with him and he gets the best of everything!”, she said. “He is so genuine, he gives 100% all the time”. Lucy is supported at shows by her fiancé, Hannah James, and they are looking forward to taking Coblet to HOYS.
Lucy has been a farrier for 10 years but took a break to work in welfare for the council.


Working Hunter
1st, Geoffrey, owned by Louise Halsall and ridden by Emma Wilson
2nd, Harry Duke, owned by Caroline Elwes and ridden by Georgie Partick

Riding Club Show Horse
1st, Alvescot Peppi, owned and ridden by Sheila Williams
2nd, Opium Europa, owned and ridden by Lucille Bryan

Riding Horse/Hack

1st Izzat Starlight, owned by Terry Melnyk and ridden by Elishia Melnyk
2nd, Spanish Hidalgo, owned by Kim Gould and ridden by Emma Hutcheon


1st, Louis Faithful, owned by Karen Neachell and ridden by Miss Daisy Adams
2nd, Newoak Flower Girl, owned by Margaret Kivell and ridden by Emma James


1st, South Hill Farm El Torro, owned by Lyn Bugler and ridden by Sarah Nicholls
2nd, Galliano Gold Dust, owned and ridden by Lucy Hamblett