The second qualifier in the 2014 South Essex Insurance Brokers Search For A Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse series took place on Sunday 11 May at Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire. The wind and torrential rain did not put off competitors with over 100 entries taking part, and it was a relief that the classes and warm-up are held indoors. There was plenty to think about for the judges, Richard Ramsay (Conformation) and David Bartram (ride), and they were assisted by Grace Gostelow, (assistant ride). Grace was assisting the judging for the first time at Search for a Star but her experience stood her in good stead. She spent 3 years working in racing, two with Henrietta Knight, before joining the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery and is now stationed at Woolwich. Grace has ridden since she was 3 years old and has had show horses and ponies all her life. She hopes to do more judging in future.

Working Hunter
Eleven entries tackled the working hunter course and the first few made the course look easy but a double of brushes caused a few horses to look. Five eventual clears went through to the final judging and first place went to Flagmont Dazzler, owned and ridden by Sarah Birbeck, 51, of Beverley, East Yorkshire. Known as Boris at home, this 7 year old grey gelding is a pure bred Irish Draft, by the draft stallion, Welcome Flagmount. Having been imported from Ireland, Sarah bought Boris from a dealer and has owned him for 2 years. The pair have competed in show jumping, dressage and working hunter classes as well as ridden Irish Draft classes, and competed at the first SFAS qualifier at Osbaldeston. “He is quite a character, and likes to be tickled, but he doesn’t like other horses in his space”, said Sarah, who works part time for Partrick Wilkinson Saddlers. The pair plan to do working hunter classes at Bramham and the Great Yorkshire show, as well as more ridden Draft classes and some show jumping. “I have always thought it would be nice to go to HOYS, and it was something to aim for”, said a delighted Sarah.

Second place went to Jessica Walker riding her own Bare Forest Girl. Jessica, 21, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, has owned the 8 year old bay mare since she was a 4 year old and has competed in show jumping, workers and done hunter trials. “She likes rustic fences and is very keen out hunting, but she is usually so laid back, really chilled”, explained Jessica. The pair finished fourth in the working hunter class at Osbaldeston two weeks previously, and have worked hard with their trainer, Jo Colwood, to prepare for today. “I just want to get more mileage, go to more shows and do some show jumping this season”, explained Jessica, who was working as a show jumping groom for John Whittaker until recently. “I tried SFAS 2 years ago with another horse, and this time I set out to try and qualify. It is brilliant, all the hard work has paid off”, she said.

Riding Club Show Horse
Sixteen horses tackled the trotting poles and two fences in the Riding Club Show Horse with few problems. After the final judging, first place went to Emblem, owned and ridden by Haydn Ellis, 22, from Underwood, near Nottingham. This was the first ever showing show for Haydn and the 9 year old grey gelding, who normally compete in dressage and show jumping. “He is such a gentleman, a good lad”, said Haydn, who bought the horse as a just broken 4 year old. The pair won the Pony Club Dressage Championships when Emblem was a 4 year old, and have since competed twice and the British Dressage regional dressage finals. “He does hunter trials and cross country, and we wanted to try something different so we came along just to have a go!” said a delighted Haydn. The pair were also third in the working hunter class earlier in the day. “I didn’t know what the show was all about, but he really looks after me. HOYS is every rider’s dream, I can’t think of anything bigger, I can’t believe it”, she said. The pair have done well at unaffiliated eventing, winning the open at Eland Lodge and Draycott one day events. Emblem was bred at the Exton Stud and is by Unbelievable Darco out of a Hannovarian mare. Haydn bought the grey from Jo Shields, whose yard is based at Wymeswold, just down the road from Vale View. “He loves little ponies, and just takes everything in his stride”. Haydn and Emblem are trained by Jill Burr, her jumping instructor, who helped them prepare for this show. “And I don’t know what I would do without my team”, she said of her mum, Lindsay Ellis, and friends Paula Kirk-Ellis and Val Henshaw who helped her get ready for the show.

Second place went to Emily Howe, 35, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, riding her own A Rom-tom-tom. Emily bought the 14 year old Irish thoroughbred bay gelding 5 ½ years ago. “I bought him because he was going to be shot. He had all sorts of problems and the owner said if I gave £100 I could have him in his headcollar, so I did”, said Emily. “He was rising 9 and unrideable when I got him. He was skin and bone, and had bad feet and bad everything. The Animal Health Trust had recommended he was put down”, explained Emily. She started him again and it was not much fun to watch according to her mother. “I did a lot of natural work, Pirelli and natural horsemanship, that sort of thing, because I had just run out of options. I couldn’t get a bridle on him, he was a physical and emotional wreck. But basically he was sound so I just concentrated on sorting out his brain and working on his musculature. He was tight, stiff and sore so it was a slow process”. But patience paid off and finally he started to come right. They were offered a beautiful new saddle, but when she tried it on he just froze. A treeless Solutions Saddle proved to be the answer but an expensive sheepskin numnah had to be discarded in preference to a carefully cut out piece of “vetbed” pet bedding material as he is still so sensitive in his back. The pair started jumping and his work progressed. “It has taken 5 years to change him physically, but he is finally right. He is wonderful at home and is so mannerly”, said Emily. The pair have competed in hunter trials, dressage and show jumping and hope to content their first one day event soon. “I had known about SFAS and now that he is doing things I just thought I wonder if he would take a ride judge. So we came along to have a go and see how he would be. He has got manners to burn so I knew he would be alright. He really is my best friend”. Emily plans to carry on doing everything he does and has no doubts that he will be just fine in the atmosphere at HOYS. “We just want to have fun. I have never wanted to chase a ticket, or even dare dream of getting one. But for him to go to HOYS will be a very special occasion”, said Emily, who works as a Solution Saddles technical adviser.

Riding Horse/Hack
This combined Riding Horse and Hack class attracted 9 quality entries and first place went to Vishnu, owned and ridden by Natalie Bird, 27, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Natalie bought the 11 year old bay gelding as an unbroken 4 year old and planned to do show jumping. She backed and brought him on herself , “but he is a bit accident prone”, she said. Natalie had been asked to ride a show pony and soon got the showing bug and decided to have a go with Vishnu. After an unpromising start, it came together last year. “He didn’t like the ride judges but last year it just clicked”, said Natalie. The pair won the Restricted Supreme title at Equifest, Supreme Riding Horse at Royal London and Supreme of Show at Chiltern & Thames Rider Championships. “We decided to go for it this year and this was our biggest aim”, said Keely, Natalie’s sister, who helps out at home and at shows, calming the nerves of both horse and rider. “It is Keely’s 21st birthday this year and it was our aim to get to HOYS. It has been a lot of hard work and there have been set backs”, said Natalie. Vishnu has a weak immune system and often gets a virus during the winter months. “If there is an opportunity, he will get into trouble. When he was younger he fell over in the field and tore his cartilage, so he had to have a lot of time off. He was really easy to break in, but was a really naughty 5 year old. When he bucked you could see his feet over my head!” she said. The pair plan to compete at Equifest and do some working hunter classes and working show horse classes this season. They have already proved successful, winning at Edenbridge and Oxted, Royal London and Equifest. “He needs plenty of work at shows, and we give him sweets to keep him happy”, said Natalie, who works full time as an area sales manager for Avon, and gets up early to ride before work, and then rides her other horse after work.

Second place went to You Heartbreaker, known as Roo, owned and ridden by Vicky Wraight, 42, of Stratford upon Avon. Vicky bought the 10 year old bay gelding, a Dutch warmblood by Heartbreaker, from a dealer 18 months ago. “I had a cob that I hunted, but we could not do much else so when he died I wanted something I could go out and have fun with. We go hunting, showing and jumping”, explained Vicky. “He is an ex-show jumper who had jumped Newcomers and foxhunter. He has about £1000 British Showjumping winnings and I believe he was ridden by Nicol Pavit”, said Vicky, who has competed him in dressage and local shows. The pair were second in the riding horse class at Addington Grass Roots recently. “I had groomed for other people at SFAS and thought it was a great way for amateurs to qualify for HOYS, so we thought we would have a go. It was our plan for the year. This is our first qualifier and I didn’t think he would do it – he didn’t go as well as he can!” said Vicky, who works full time as a Sales Administrator for Bristol Street Motors. “He is very laid back, so he should cope with HOYS fine. He loves ice cream and hot cross buns”, she added. “Now we will be able to see HOYS from a different perspective”, added Vicky’s mum, Nicola, who acts as grooms at shows. “This is my first year as groom, so it has been a steep learning curve!” she added.

Nineteen entries came forward for the ridden hunter class and first place went to Kingsclough Masquerade, known as “Marcus”, owned and ridden by Amanda Chatfield, 52, of Hammerwich, Staffordshire. “I have been dreaming about this for 40 years!” she said. Marcus is an Irish Draft Sport horse, by the Irish Draft x Thoroughbred grand prix dressage stallion, MJ Fine Art, out of an ID x welsh mare. Amanda brought the 8 year old chestnut gelding as an unbroken 4 year old for her son, but when he gave up riding she kept the horse and Pony Club friend, Chloe Dyche, 17, now shares the ride. After having him professionally backed, Amanda found the horse quite difficult and very nearly sold him. “I asked Josh White to help and we persevered and he helped turn him into the horse he is today. Josh had a car accident a few weeks ago and broke his pelvis, otherwise he would be here today”, explained Amanda. “Marcus was very fiery and his response to fear was to bronc. Thank goodness he has given that up. He really is a lovely horse, very loving and enjoys cuddles”, she said. Marcus and Chloe have competed in Pony Club eventing and show jumping. They have won two Pony Club one day events, dressage to music at the Dengie Winter Dressage Championships and 5th at the National Novice Dressage Championships. They plan to do more eventing and Amanda will do more showing, with a plan to compete at Derby County and Canwell shows. “We have won novice dressage and have just joined the Denston Diamonds to do British Dressage Team Quest. There is not much time to fit everything in. The judge commented that he had impeccable manners”, said Amanda, who runs her own florists, Wild Orchid, in Burntwood, Staffs. The day was cause for a double celebration as it was also her husband, David’s birthday. “I am too shell shocked. I have always dreamed of going to HOYS, but thought it was out of reach. I tried to qualify with my other horse, who did well at county level showing, but when he was diagnosed with arthritis I thought that was the end of it. It looks as though I will be eating my words. I never thought I could do it with this one”, she said.

Second place went to Border Grove Madison, known as Gibbs, owned and ridden by Hayley Graham, 25, from Cumbria. The 5 year old black gelding is by Maximillian Marley out of Broadstone Love Affair and was bred by Lorna Reeve at the Border Grove Stud in Scotland. Hayley bought him unbroken 2 years ago and has backed and brought him on herself. “He was very quiet to back, but then the fun started”, she said. He was shown successfully in hand as a 3 year old by his breeder, standing champion show hunter, riding horse champion and reserve supreme at Carlisle show. Last year Hayley started doing ridden show classes and won the BSPS Bright Stars championship. “He is very quiet at home. We do lots of schooling and hacking and we have just started jumping”, she said. Hayley plans to do more ridden hunter classes and try to qualify for the Royal International Horse Show, and they will also do the Burghley Young Event Horse 5 year old class. “I want to try a bit of everything. I wanted to do SFAS as I liked the idea of trying to qualify for HOYS. We did Osbaldeston but did not qualify so we decided to have another go today. Luckily the 4 hour drive paid off. I will sleep well tonight!” said Hayley, who works part time for Vetrinary Immunogenics, a company that collects plasma from shire horses that is used by vets to give to new born foals. Hayley also has a dressage horse and a fell pony and fits in doing the horses around work.

A strong field of nine show and maxi cobs came before the judges and first place went to Warren House Patrick, known as “Paddy”, owned and ridden by Kayleigh Stockdale, 24, from Blackpool. The win was made even more special as it was also Kayleigh’s birthday. Kayleigh has owned the 10 year old bay gelding for 2 years. “He was cheap because he had been left on the livery yard, so I bought him as a bit of a project”, explained Kayleigh. “He had a mane and feathers and was ridiculously fat. We spent the summer playing and having fun, and he has done dressage and some cross country. It is just for fun and he enjoys it”. Paddy quickly became a real family horse and Kayleigh’s dad, Jeff, learned to ride on him last year. “He was great and I now have my own horse”, said Jeff, who acts as groom for Kayleigh at shows. Last year Kayleigh and Paddy started showing at Riding Club level and realised that they were quite good. This year they plan to compete at county shows and have already gained 4th place in a Royal International qualifier. “We came to the first SFAS qualifier at Osbaldeston and were placed third, so we thought it was worth another shot”, said Kayleigh, who travelled for 3 hours with family and friends to compete at Vale View. “Now we will have birthday cake and Paddy can have mint humbugs. He was brilliant, he went beautifully for the judge. I am so proud of him” said a delighted Kayleigh, who works as an administrator for Blackpool Council. This is their first season competing at this level and Kayleigh and Paddy plan to show at Equifest and Cheshire County in Maxi Cob classes this summer.

Second place went to Jasmine Hardy, 20, of Lindale, Whitby, riding her own Charlie. The pair had travelled 3 ½ hours to compete at Vale View but Jasmine declared “it was worth it”. Jasmine has owned the 10 year old black gelding since he was a 2 year old, and bought him having seen him tethered on a roundabout. “I went to the travelling family to ask them to give me [horse] driving lessons and I ended up helping them to back some ponies. Charlie was broken to harness and I started to drive him. They had previously refused to sell him to anyone, but eventually they agreed that I could buy him”, explained Jasmine. “He is actually a black sabino, which means he has white fleck all over him”, she said. Jasmine planned to do a bit of everything but has not driven him since. She backed him to ride, and has done a lot of dressage, qualifying him for the Trailblazers Championships at Stoneleigh as a 4 year old. “He was then put on the back burner for a while as I had another youngster to bring on. After I got Charlie, we realised that he was a half brother to the other young horse I have – the breeder that I bought him off recognised my other horse and they apparently have the same mother”, said Jasmine, who has kept in touch with the family. Jasmine works as a full time carer looking after the elderly and people with learning difficulties and fits in looking after her horses around work. She decided to try showing and at their first local show the judge said he thought they should do more. “We are self-taught, I watch other people and I am always pestering them to see how it is done”, she explained. “He is my horse of a lifetime. HOYS has been on my bucket list for years, I can’t believe I am going to do it with him. It is very special”, she said.

First place went Rotherwood Mr Pepys, owned by Debbie and Liam Conway and ridden by Ellie Conway, 13, from Stockport, Cheshire. Having qualified in SFAS for HOYS last year, the family were devastated when they arrived at the championships to find that there was a problem with their pony’s inoculations and they were not allowed on to the showground. “We accepted that rules are rules and perhaps last year it was not to be, but we were determined to have another go this year”, said a delighted Liam. However, plans to attend the first SFAS qualifier at Osbaldeston were thwarted when the pony went slightly lame during a lesson before the show. “We transferred our entry to Vale View, and we are definitely very pleased to have qualified again”, he said. Last year Ellie and her pony, known as Sam at home, stood champion at Equifest and won and were reserve champions at Red Rose County Show at Warrington. “We moved yards during the winter and he really is a different pony now. Ellie can do more schooling and we have been focused on preparing for SFAS after the disappointment last year. We have spent 6 months building up to this!” said Liam. “I am really pleased we can go to HOYS”, said Ellie, a student at Denton Community College. The pair aim to compete at Cheshire County and Great Yorkshire shows this summer, before heading to HOYS.

Second place went to Serena Parkhouse’s Gwithian Geraint, known as Jago, ridden by daughter Emmy Parkhouse, 10, from Waterford, Hertfordshire. The family have owned the 6 year old Jago for 18 months and bought him as an all-round pony club pony. “He is a lovely pony and does everything. He loves jumping”, said Emmy. “We bought him from friends so we knew him already. Emmy did lots of Pony Club events last year and started showing this year”, explained mum, Serena. They have done well so far having won the BSPS Pretty Polly Show Hunter Pony class and was Pretty Polly Champion at the Area 15a Mid Herts Spring Show, qualifying for the Royal International Horse Show. They also won at the Ponies UK Winter Championships and were winners of the novice and open show hunter pony class at the NPS Spring Festival. “We really wanted to do SFAS and try to qualify for HOYS”, said Emmy. The Welsh section B pony is by Mynach Buccaneer out of Temple Druid Honeysuckle and Emmy plans to do more Pony Club events this summer. “They will do some show jumping, eventing and Pony Club camp”, explained Serena. “She will also be eligible for Novice Nursery Stakes classes this summer and so we hope to do some of those too”. Emmy is at school at St Josephs’ Hertford and started her exams the day after the show. “This is amazing, I can’t wait to go to HOYS. There is so much to learn, but he is just perfect”, she said.


These are the class results, but they may not all qualify for HOYS due to passport irregularities, because of the judge’s discretion, where the same rider has qualified twice or where the horse or rider do not meet all eligibility requirements.

Working Hunter

1st Flagmount Dazzler, owned and ridden by Ms Sarah Birbeck of Walkington, East Yorks

2nd, Bear Forest Girl, owned and ridden by Miss Jessica Walker of Halifax, Yorkshire

Riding Club Show Horse

1st, Emblem, owned and ridden by Miss Haydn Ellis of Underwood, Nottingham

2nd, A Rom Tom Tom, owned and ridden by Miss Emily Howe of Chesterfield

Riding Horse/Hack

1st, Vishnu, owned and ridden by Miss Natalie Bird of Hitchin, Herts

2nd, You Heartbreaker, owned and ridden by Miss Victoria Wraight of Alcester, Warwickshire

Show Hunter

1st, Kingscough Masquerade, owned and ridden by Mrs Amanda Chatfield of Hammerwich, Staffs

2nd, Bordergrove Madison, owned and ridden by Miss Hayley Graham of Penrith

Show/Maxi Cob

1st, Warren House Patrick, owned and ridden by Miss Kayleigh Stockdale of Blackpool

2nd, Charlie, owned and ridden by Miss Jasmine Hardy of Whitby


1st Rotherwood Mr Pepys, owned by Mr and Mrs Liam Conway and ridden by Miss Ellie Conway, of Stockport

2nd, Gwithian Geraint, owned by Mrs Serena Parkhouse and ridden by Miss Emmy Parkhouse of Waterford, Herts.