Temperatures soared for the South Essex Insurance Brokers Search For A Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier at Summerhouse Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire on 22nd June. But it was not just the weather as a huge entry ensured hot competition across all the classes, giving Search for a Star judges, Richard Ramsay (confirmation), David Bartram (ride) and Hannah Horton (assistant ride) plenty to do, as did Racehorse to Riding Horse judges, Lucy Killingbeck (conformation) and Sarah Smith (ride).

Working Hunter
The rustic course caused a few problems and several horses had a pole. Just 3 horses went clear and 6 came back for the final judging phase. First place went to the home bred 9 year old grey gelding, Chocolate Ripple, owned and ridden by Jane Tomlinson of Weston-Super-Mare. “He was the colour of Bournville chocolate when he came out, he went grey later”, explained a delighted Jane. “I wanted to breed a 15.2 horse that would be easy to get on and off as I got older, but the grass must have been good because he just kept growing”, she added. The diminutive Jane had come close to selling the horse several times as he grew, “but I am so glad I kept him”, she said. The pair competed in SFAS last year, coming 3rd in the riding club show horse at both Badgworth and Bury Farm qualifiers, just missing out on a qualifying position. “The judge gave me really good feed back and we went away and worked on it. He has improved so much since last year”, said Jane, who was accompanied by her friend, neighbour and chief supporter, Victoria Lance. “Victoria has given me so much encouragement. She does the horses when I am away and has plaited him this morning”. Victoria rides Chocolate Ripple’s dam, Tropical Wave, who is now 22 and retired but still very well and enjoying hacking out. Jane and Chocolate Ripple have already had success this year, winning the novice working hunter at the Bath and West show, and the pair also do some affiliated show jumping and go hunting through the winter. “I really want to thank my neighbour, Venitia Kenny Herbert who lets me use her arena and Jayne Smart, who gives me lessons”, added Jane. “Both of my sons ride Ripple, he is just a thoroughly nice all round horse. We decided to do some show hunter classes as it was more interesting than doing dressage, and it turns out he is quite good at it. He was dragged out of the field at 4am this morning. I am so thrilled, he deserves it, we have done everything, and everything he is, is down to us”, said Jane, a retired school secretary. Jane retired from work because she suffered from severe migraine, and she used to event but this also became difficult due to the migraines. “Showing is easier to cope with”, she said. The pair plan to do more shows throughout the summer and work on the advice given by the judges before heading to HOYS.

Second place went to Rhian Jones, 21, riding V-Max, owned by Rachel White, from Swansea. Rachel bought the 12 year old bay gelding last February as an eventer and shares the ride with Rhian. They qualified for and competed at the BE90 Grass Roots finals at Badminton horse trials. This was their very first showing show, and the success was an added celebration for Rhian who had her 21st birthday this week. “He is very playful, and holds my whip in his mouth if I let him. He is so good, and very laid back”, said Rhian. “We will compete at Dauntsey horse trials if we get some rain so make the ground right, and he will go to the regional final for the BE Grassroots again. Then we will be getting in some more practice for workers before HOYS”, said Rachel.

Riding Club Show Horse
Competitors tackled the first phase of trotting poles, a rustic and a show jump. The “bumble bee” show jump caused one or two to look, but 8 went clear to stay for the second phase of judging. First place went to Annagh Nero, ridden by Victoria Lovick, 21, and owned by Gemma Lovick, who had travelled from Bury St Edmunds. Gemma has owned the 9 year old bay gelding, known as Felix, for 3 years. “We bought a star, he has hunted and evented, and we aimed at SFAS this year. He is just an amazing horse”, said Victoria. Victoria’s horse, Dell Boy, did SFAS last year but sadly she lost him later in the year. “I was devastated when I lost Dell Boy, but this one has mended my heart. This is beyond my wildest dreams, he has made my dreams come true”. Felix was bought as a leisure horse and the girls found that he was an amazing jumper. They plan to do more shows and prepare for HOYS. “This is the biggest thing that has happened to us. He is a horse in a million”, said Victoria, who works as a grain store manager and fits in doing horses around work. The horses are kept at home and the girls do everything themselves.

Second place went to Lesley Blogg and Gulliver from Kirby Stephen, Cumbria. The pair qualified last year but Gulliver went lame before the finals. “He sprained a pastern in august and was on box rest until November”, explained Lesley. They started to come back into work and competed in SFAS at Osbaldeston and Vale View this year. “He was not on form and seemed a bit flat, and I discovered afterwards that he was anaemic”, explained Lesley. “He had some more time off and has picked up now. He was brilliant today, going forward and he really tried”. Gulliver suffered from the very serious grass sickness disease when he was 3 years old, and Lesley nursed him back to health. “He was syringe fed for 6 weeks and it took a long time for him to recover. Then he was off for a year with lameness. He is now 11 years old but he is like a 7 year old, he is very low mileage”, she explained. He is now doing well in dressage at Novice and will do the British Dressage regional finals at Prelim level. Lesley hopes to move up to elementary this year. They have also won an unaffiliated one day event, finishing on their dressage score with a double clear in show jumping and cross country. “I tried to save him for HOYS last year, but we went schooling and landed flat while jumping and sprained his pastern. He is just the nicest horse, he tries his heart out. When he feels lazy, it is usually for a reason, and I think it has a lot to do with the grass sickness when he was young”. Lesley and Gulliver will have jumping lessons with Susie Gibson, and do the regional dressage and some showing before heading to HOYS. “I will continue to build him up, doing hacking and hill work. After his various infections, he still needs building up, and fingers crossed we will make it to HOYS this year”, said Lesley.

Riding Horse/Hack
A large entry for this class was split into two groups for preliminary judging to save overcrowding in the arena. In the final placings, first went to the lovely dark bay mare, Wolf Whistle, owned and ridden by Fay Chivers, 39, a housewife from Salisbury. Fay bought the mare in Germany, where she lived for 5 years for her husband’s job. “When we came back the horse world just opened up for me. In Germany we had to travel a long way to compete, but in the UK we can do so much more”, said Fay. “A friend suggested that we have a go at showing, so we did and have done really well”. The pair won a Royal International Horse Show qualifier at the Royal Cornwall show a month ago, and came second in the Small Riding Horse HOYS qualifier at the Three Counties Show. “We were second to Katie Jerram and she suggested that we had a go at Search For A Star”, explained Fay. The pair have also done dressage and won an unaffiliated one day event. “She is so easy, granny rides her, and my 10 year old daughter canters her around the field. She is just wonderful in every way and will be with us until she goes in the ground. We are really just playing at this. We are going to do a working show horse class at the Royal International and we are just enjoying it. I have met so many lovely people that want to help, and have given me encouragement. I definitely want to try to do the best we can. It is nice to do SFAS as it is not against the producers, it is a level playing field”, she added. Fay is lucky to be able to keep the horses at home, although she does not have an arena and their field is on a slope, so she has to borrow a friend’s school to do flat work. Her daughter, Lucy, also has a pony and does Pony Club and loves show jumping. “I have a very supportive family and very understanding husband!”

Second place went to Joanne Snelling, 22, riding her own Frigowny Blue Spirit. Joanne had travelled from Grimsby to compete with the 6 year old chestnut mare, but “it was worth it”, she said. Joanne has owned the mare for just 2 ½ months, having bought her from a friend. “She had done nothing for the last 2 years, but she was so good that we took her to a show a week later. But we got some bad feedback and were told that she would not make it. Luckily we decided to try again”, said Joanne, who had started out at 2am that morning to get to the venue. “We wanted to give it a go and get some feedback. I can’t believe it”, she said. The mare, who is called “Surprize” at home, is welsh x arab breeding, by the stallion Apache Team Spirit, and competes as a Hack. Joanne got her with the intention of showing after her other horse, a small hunter, tore a hind suspensory ligament and needed a long time off work to recover. “She can be a chestnut mare sometimes, but she can pull it off and is quite level headed most of the time”, said Joanne, who works as a butcher. The pair had planned to do more SFAS qualifiers and will do some clinics and keep working to improve and keep going forwards before HOYS. “It is my sister’s dream to compete at HOYS – I always show jumped. She grooms for me and will also try to qualify with her coloured hunter”, said Joanne, as sister Kirsty was preparing for the next class. “We are a small team and help each other. And Surprize’s previous owner still keeps in touch and will be delighted”.

Another large class with 28 entries was split into three groups for preliminary judging, before the top six came back for the final placings. The top spot went to Nikki Johnson, 24, riding her own 4 year old home bred, Diamond Roulette. The gelding’s dam, Bally Flights, known as “Ellie”, an Irish Sport Horse by the Oldenburg dressage stallion, Roulette, with King of Diamonds in her breeding, did County level working hunter classes and hunted with Nikki before injuring a tendon, so the decision was made to put her in foal. “It was the best thing I have ever done”, says Nikki, who was off with a back injury after a car crash and could not ride for 3 months. Nikki backed the youngster herself and he has not put a foot wrong while being ridden, although he has got up to some mischief at other times. “When he was just coming up to 3 years old he jumped the stable door, he has tried to smash the waggon and has put his head through the roof and through a window. He has done all this but, touch wood, he has come out of it fine”, said Nikki. The pair got into showing for something to do, to help educate the horse so that Nikki could get back into eventing. They turned out to be quite good at it, getting second place at Shropshire County Show and again at Staffordshire County Show in the Sport Horse Class. At the Home Produced Show at Barleyfields, they won the LW Hunter class, stood champion hunter and supreme of the show. “This was a big class but it didn’t faze him at all. He wasn’t bothered by it. It was our aim to get to HOYS, to experience it. It is a dream come true and it really hasn’t sunk in yet! Doing SFAS is great with all the help and support. You can wing it but it is fab to know what you are looking at. I have been given some great feedback and some things that I can work on”, said Nikki, who worked for the North Staffs Hunt Master last season and is now working as a freelance groom and does a bit of breaking and schooling. When Nikki was 13 she was kicked in the face by the mare, Ellie, who was then just a 4 year old. “I broke my cheek and had to have it pinned and plated. My mum said that if I came back from that then I could have another horse, and I did”, she said.

Second place went to Master Fiddler Look At Me, owned and ridden by Rachel Edmonds, 44, of Newton Abbot. Rachel has owned the 11 year old grey gelding for 3 years and wanted a horse that she could show and for dressage. “I am not very brave but we do a little jumping at home”, added Rachel, who is mum to 3 children and helps run the family business producing French style bedroom furniture. “It helps to fund Fiddler”, she laughed. The pair have been out just once before Summerhouse, standing 6th in the MW Hunter class at Devon County, one of the few classes to be completed before rain caused the show to be cancelled. They do a lot of schooling and hacking at home. “You never know which “Fiddler” you are going to have when you get to a show. He can be very chilled, and he can also be quite a character. We had 3 hours travelling to get here and he is quite chilled today. He is like a big puppy and I am sure he would sit on the sofa if I took him in the house. He is part of the family”, she said. Fiddler is aptly named as he fiddles with everything. “He once managed to lift a Loddon stable door off its hinges. We heard the most almighty crash and rushed in expecting to see an injured horse, but he just stood there looking at it and we never found out how he did it. It took several of us to lift the door back on”, Rachel recalled. “I have always wanted to go to HOYS. I started riding when I was 4 years old but when I was little I never had a pony. I stopped riding when I had the children, then I started having lessons again. I got my first horse as a surprise birthday present from my husband when I was 35 years old! Fiddler is my second horse and he has been a dream”, said Rachel.

The cob class was well supported with good quality entries but the top places were both taken for Wales. First place went to the 9 year old coloured maxi cob, Farmhill Apache, owned and ridden by Jane Norris, 44, from Llandysul, Carmarthenshire. Jane bought the cob last September and they hunted all season with the Vale of Clettwr. “This is new to us, it is only our third show”, said Jane, who decided to have a go at showing for something to do in the summer. The pair were placed 4th in the Novice Cob class at the Bath and West show, and also did the Maxi Cob class at Three Counties. “I did a Katie Jerram clinic at the beginning of the year and she suggested that we try Search for a Star. We have also had some lessons with Sarah Chapman who has been teaching us what showing is all about”, said Jane, who had been suffering from thyroiditis and had struggled to get ready for the show but was determined that they were going to take part. “He was not too spooky, which I was a bit worried about as it is his first time indoors, but he was very good. We came here show jumping and I want to do the working show horse classes but we needed to get the showing bit first. This has been our main aim for this year. We have entered Bury Farm and some county shows and we will do some more coloured classes”, she said. “He was bought by my partner from Malvern sales to go hunting, but he is not having him back now!” said Jane, who works as a self employed web designer.

Second place went to Stadmorslow Franklyn, known as Frankie, owned and ridden by Chelsea Thomas, 20, from Swansea. Chelsea has owned the 9 year old bay gelding since he was a 4 year old, having bought him unbroken. “We backed him but he was very naughty, and we tried hacking him but he was stroppy. We moved yards and have hunted him and with patience and work he came right and he is a different horse now”, explained Chelsea. “We tried showing last year at some unaffiliated shows, and have done some unaffiliated shows this year”, she said. The pair were 6th at the SFAS qualifier at Osbaldeston. “The judges gave us some advice and we have been working hard on this and it has all improved. His crest was too big and they suggested that we sweat it down, which I have been doing every day, and it has worked”, said Cheslea, whose partner, Daniel Harrison, who competes in show jumping, persuaded her to get more into showing. “Daniel has two horses in the top 15 for the Bronze tour, so it would be brilliant if we both managed to get to HOYS this year”, added Chelsea, who fits in riding and looking after Frankie around full time work as a hairdresser.

In the final class of a scorching day, the top spot went to Classic Camilla, owned by Karen Holland and ridden by daughter, Jordan, 14, from Walsall. The family have had the 10 year old chestnut mare for 4 years and bought her to show. Jordan and Camilla have competed at the Royal London Show where they won the Show Pony class. They have been talent spotted for TSR next year and plan to compete at Leek County show and the Birmingham Childrens Charity Show at Edgbaston. “I had my stars read at the beginning of the year and they said that this would be Jordan’s best year yet. All the eights have lined up – It is Jordan’s birthday on 8th June, my birthday on 8th October and it is Jordan’s 8th year riding”, said a thrilled Karen. Jordan, a student at Willenhall E-Act School, regularly hacks out and has done a bit of jumping at home and some dressage over the winter. “But showing is what I am really interested in”, she said. “It has not sunk in yet, I can’t believe we are going to HOYS”. “It’s all she wants”, said Mark, Jordan’s Dad, who also goes to all the shows as driver and groom. “We won’t have far to go for the finals”, he added.

Second place went to The Grey Prince, owned by Ross Durkin and ridden by Alicia Brassett, 17, from Helston in Cornwall, making the 5 hour drive all worthwhile. Ross has owned the 10 year old grey gelding for 2 years, having bought him as a “scraggly” looking horse that had just been brought over from Ireland by a dealer. Ross’s son, Joe, show jumps and Joe’s fiancé, Natasha Brassett, took to Prince and started working on him. “We had no intention to show, but we had worked really hard on him all winter and he looked a completely different horse. Randomly we decided to show him last year as a 15hh show hunter pony and he took two supreme championships”, said Natasha, who at 21 is sadly too old to ride in this class. “So I got my sister, Alicia, to ride him”, she explained. The pair started to compete in BSPS classes this year and have qualified for the Royal International Horse Show, standing Champion novice and Reserve Champion open show hunter pony at the BSPS Area 13A show in Cornwall. Natasha had helped a friend who competed in SFAS at Badgworth last year and she planned to have a go with Prince, but the trip was very nearly thwarted. “At the last minute our transport was cancelled, so we had a bit of a panic, but then Ross kindly agreed to drive”. Natasha and Joe have 8 horses, including show jumpers, 2 show horses and a miniature. “Prince will have a break now, then we will do the Royal International and a couple more shows before HOYS. Then he will be sold at the end of the year as sadly Alicia will also be too old to ride him”, said Natasha. “I have always dreamed of going to HOYS”, said Alicia, who is fortunate to have the ride. “It is all they have gone one about for months”, said Ross, who admitted to not being very horsey. “We never thought that Prince would be the one. He came from nothing”, added Natasha, who works on a livery yard and delivers Pizzas for Domino in the evening to help pay for the horses.


These are the class results, 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.

Working Hunter

1st, Chocolate Ripple, owned and ridden by Jane Tomlinson of Weston-Super-Mare

2nd, V-Max, owned by Rachel White and ridden by Rhian Jones, of Swansea

Riding Club Show Horse

1st, Annagh Nero, owned by Gemma Lovick and ridden by Victoria Lovick, from Bury St Edmunds

2nd, Gulliver, owned and ridden by Leslie Blogg, of Winton, Cumbria

Riding Horse/Hack

1st, Wolf Whistle, owned and ridden by Fay Chivers of Salisbury, Wilts

2nd, Frigowny Blue Spirit, owned and ridden by Joanne Snelling of Louth, Lincolnshire

Show Hunter

1st, Diamond Roulette, owned and ridden by Nikki Johnson of Stafford

2nd, Master Fiddler Look At Me, owned and ridden by Rachel Edmunds of Newton Abbot


1st, Farmhill Apache, owned and ridden by Jane Norris of Llandysul, Carmarthenshire

2nd, Stadmorslow Franklyn, owned and ridden by Chelsea Thomas of Swansea


1st, Classic Camilla, owned by Karen Holland and ridden by Jordan Holland of Walsall

2nd, The Grey Prince, owned by Ross Durkin and ridden by Alicia Brassett, of Helston, Cornwall.