Sarah-Jane Brown February Blog

This may be a slightly shorter blog than usual as shortly after writing my last blog I had a little issue that involved me diving onto concrete.

It’s that age old problem of being a working rider with limited light in the week, it means at the weekend I try and give them a good hack or box them to a school. On this particular Sunday it was windy, ok let’s be honest there was a weather warning for wind and being only a mile or so from the coast we are pretty exposed. I decided to plough on and ride both regardless, I had survived a ride on Ellie but on mounting Fliss she spooked with me half on causing me to kick her on the backside next minute I was hurtling toward the concrete with the knowledge this was likely to hurt. It did and it ended up with a trip to casualty where fortunately no breaks were identified but soft tissue damage around the ribs. It may only have been soft tissue but it was extremely painful and I lived in fear of something making me sneeze!

I was unable to ride for 10 days and then only sit and pootle round the block it was nearly four weeks until the sharp pains had subsided enough for life to be fairly normal. Luckily the girls were fit and going nicely so a break wasn’t the end of the world. We also timed it well as we had a few days of snow, but you can see Ellie had fun.

I am lucky I have enough grazing for both girls to not to be too short in the winter. Also huge thanks to Suregrow for helping maintain the grass and keep it in great condition with a good root structure. As I have no schooling facilities I also use Ellie’s field to ride in through the winter and it is looking great still.

We did manage one outing a jumping show at Bicton Arena. I cannot believe the weather we had, warm sunny weather and perfect for some jumping at Bicton. It has been a while since we have been out. I decided to just take Fliss although I kept my brave pants on and entered the 1.05 and Newcomers rather than stepping back as was sorely tempting.

The Bicton jumping shows at the beginning and the end of the season are some of my favourite jumping shows, with just one arena running and everyone gathered around there is a great atmosphere, it is well organised with great competitive jumping. I was sensible for once and went for consistent quality rounds without getting carried away for fast times. I am very excited about Fliss's future and don't want to spoil her jump at this stage by rushing her.

She was fab and over two decent tracks jumped two nice double clears. In the Newcomers she jumped her first treble albeit rather greenly managing to add a stride but was very honest. It was the only mistake she made in either round and she had the ability to get away with it. 

As I write this we are preparing for a big road trip with a journey to Northants (seven hours in the lorry) to Aston Le Walls for the BRC Arena Eventing Championships which both horses qualified for in the Autumn. I am really looking forward to representing Threewaters Riding Club in this great competition. As we have travelled so far we are planning a couple of days of boot camp on the way back with a stop at the fabulous Attington to have some lessons with International Irish Event rider Austin O’Connor. He is a fabulous trainer having first taught me 30 years ago when based in Cornwall. My lessons with Austin this time last year really shaped a huge improvement in both girls and very excited to be going back.

Hopefully plenty more for the next blog if you want regular updates do follow me on my website


March 8, 2019  |   Share:

Jo Barry Wins Suregrow Elementary Gold Freestyle at Morris Equestrian Centre

National Dressage rider Jo Barry and Hidalgo II took the Suregrow Fertiliser Elementary Gold Freestyle title with an outstanding score of 77.37% at Morris Equestrian Centre.

The Suregrow Elementary Gold winner has won numerous Regional and Scottish titles and 16 National Championships throughout her Dressage career and currently competes up to Small Tour Level.

Having ridden from a young age, Jo started riding at her local riding school at just four-years-old. She had weekly riding lessons, which soon turned into spending weekends at the yard as well as many evenings after school whenever possible. Jo got her first pony when she was eight-years-old and took part in Pony Club activities.

Based in West Lothian near Edinburgh Jo now works professionally with horses, providing livery and coaching while working and training her own horses in her goal to reach international level. 

Jo trains with Olympic Gold Medallist Carl Hester and well known dressage rider Paul Hayler, Jo currently has four competition horses from Novice to Small Tour.

Known at home as Humphrey, Hidalgo II is a 17.3hh, chestnut gelding by Rousseau, out of a Donnerhall mare, although he is not bred by Jo she bought his mother from Holland  whilst in foal with Humphrey. He was born in 2012 at Jo’s yard.

Owned by Jo and Lady Hope, Hidalgo II also won the Elementary straight class and the medium freestyle at the Regionals.

Said Jo: “The Suregrow Elementary Gold Freestyle test went very well at Morris Equestrian Centre and I am thrilled to qualify with Humphrey.

We are very much looking forward to the finals.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “Congratulations to Jo and Hidalgo II on winning the title with a fantastic result. We are pleased to support such a prestigious dressage series.”

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Photo by Equiscot.

March 5, 2019  |   Share:

Lucy Wins Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Regional Final at Bishop Burton

Successful dressage and event rider, Lucy Robinson, is having a fantastic start to the season after taking the Regional Champion title at Bishop Burton in the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Music Silver class.

Riding Jane Boothroyd’s homebred mare by Kyra Kirkland’s Master, Private Dancer V is a 16hh, 10-year-old mare. Known at home as Sara, Lucy and the mare have had huge success including two regional titles and last year she was crowned Northern Region Elementary Champion.

Based on the Staffordshire/ Derbyshire borders, Lucy helps run her family equestrian yard. Lucy started riding at a very young age, starting with showing then progressed to Pony Club where she has won many national titles for both dressage and eventing including winning the Open Eventing twice.

Lucy is now competing very successfully in the Under 21’s. She has three of her own event horses and competes a range of horses for owners from BE90 to 3 star level.

Lucy starting riding Jane’s dressage horses more than four years ago to help with the dressage phase of eventing. Jane needed help as she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis so although she enjoyed training the horses, competitions are a bit stressful.

Said Jane: “Lucy rode a calm, obedient test to a medley of Beatles music which suited the mare and impressed the judges.  Apart from lifting her front leg to salute the judges in the first halt, everything went according to plan and getting nearly all sevens which resulted in all the judges scoring the pair over 70%.

“It’s very exciting to win and qualify - I am going to have to cut my holiday short to take Lucy and Sara to Hartpury.”


February 28, 2019  |   Share:

Gracie Wins Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Regional Final

Young dressage rider Gracie Catling has been taking the dressage world by storm and has qualified for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

Gracie and Henton For Fun took the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Champion title on an impressive score of 72.12% at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre.

Just 15-years-old Gracie has been riding from a young age, with her mother Julia a British Dressage judge offering much support.

Known at home as Billy, Henton For Fun is a former ride of eventing legend William Fox-Pitt, until leg problems, meant he had to be retired from jumping. Previously owned by Tara Glen, Billy was kindly gifted to Gracie and has really taken to pure dressage.

The bay gelding is a 12-year-old Hanoverian x New Zealand thoroughbred and has been with Gracie for eight months.

Said Gracie: “I am so excited to take Billy to the finals, he loves showing off in the ring and is extremely lovely to ride and be around.

“Billy went perfectly; he couldn’t have gone any better and didn’t put a foot wrong. He loves the music and seems to just relax and perform in the arena.

“This year I hope to move Billy up to medium level and compete at Junior FEI.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “We are delighted to sponsor this championship, its brilliant to see such a high standard of competitors, and congratulations to Gracie and Billy.”

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February 5, 2019  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown January Blog

2019 has come in with a bit of a bang, literally! Last weekend it was gale force winds and Fliss spooked whilst I was getting on, rather than abandon the mounting process, as I only had a foot in the stirrup, I tried to carry on mounting and gave her a hefty boot as I was throwing my right leg over, she then dropped me on the concrete. You know sometimes as you see the floor coming up to meet you think this is going to hurt - well it did! The afternoon was spent in A&E and luckily nothing broken although the muscles around my ribs are hugely painful.

As I write this a week later, I have managed to clamber on Ellie again but realistically I’m not riding just sitting there. I have no core strength and plenty of pain, just being able to walk her out though at least keeps things ticking over and hopefully another week I will feel a bit more able to get going. Things are planned to be busy in March but luckily both girls were fit and ready to start the season so a quiet few weeks will do no harm at all.

We have made some big steps in January with Ellie ticking off one of the goals for 2019 very early having jumped three Newcomers classes in the month a real step up for my pocket rocket pony. A mid-winter outside three day show may not have been the brightest idea but actually we were relatively lucky with the weather and although it was bitterly cold at times we all survived our trip to Chard. It was great to get a few days solid competition practice.

On the first day Fliss won the Discovery, both girls then went on to jump a decent 1.05 class and we had another double clear from Fliss and just a rail down from Ellie when I misjudged a distance. While we had the weekend before jumped a Newcomers at Duchy I was well aware a Single Phase Newcomers at Chard is a different proposition. The course builder Steve Williams always builds well up to height. I walked it and there was a decent treble in the course but brave pants were on and Ellie was entered. 

I am over the moon with how well she tackled the course. She actually made it feel easy, yes there were two mistakes but she was by no means out of her depth and she enjoyed her round. If she can jump a Newcomers at Chard then she should be able to jump one anywhere! Very ready for some Novice BE as well.

Video of the Newcomers

Ellie went on to jump another Newcomers as did Fliss who was double clear.

Fliss did some British Dressage and won a couple of novice sections so all in all some decent preparation in the bag.

This week like most places in the country we had snow. Luckily I was still able to get too and from the yard and Ellie was turned out in and had some brilliant fun. Fliss meanwhile was suspicious of the white stuff but did brave an hour in the field.


So looking ahead to 2019 what are the goals I have set?

x - Upgrade Ellie to Novice BE this Spring

x - Jump some Newcomers with Ellie by April (Tick done)

x - Start Fliss at BE100 and also upgrade to Novice by Autumn

x - Have one or both ready for 1 star by the season end

x - Run a 10k in less than 1hr5 minutes

x - Find a way to earn more money to support the points above so I don't need to rob a bank - not sure how to achieve this ideas welcome!

x - Be positive and enjoy the horses

Now just need to get the recovery done and then we will be back on track.

February 4, 2019  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown 2018 Review

Our final competition of the season was an exciting one. We represented our Riding Club Threewaters Riding Club in the new Arena Eventing Qualifiers. It was a packed weekend of competition with two arenas running and competitors from two neighbouring areas competing. The courses proved the right balance of challenge and generally those with no penalties were placed.

Fliss was up first and I was a little nervous how she would cope as she is still a bit green with fixed fences particularly in an arena, but equally 90 should be well within her capability. We were last to go in our team which meant I was focusing on warming up rather than able to support the rest of our riders. All I can say was Fliss was awesome, she gave me a super confident forward yet careful clear round fast enough to be inside the time and clearing the influential joker fence at the end. 

Final placings were decided on closest to the optimum time not the fastest so to be honest it was luck on the final placings. Well luck was on my side as there were only 4 clear rounds and we were closest to the optimum winning the class. sj 2018.jpg

Winning round

Ellie by this time had been on the lorry a couple of hours and felt she was missing out. By the time we were ready to get her out and tacked up she had morphed into a very hyped up supercharged pony. I sometimes think I should feed her less and then remember she only gets a little Alpha A anyway! She was anchored enough for me to get on and I even had some excited bucks in the warm up. The warm up fences were treated with distain and I could only hope that once in the ring she focused on her job. Luckily I needn't have worried and she was super, popping round the show jumping and then having a blast over the cross country fences. The joker I was a little worried about but she picked her toes up and popped it for a clear inside the time.

Amazingly there were only 6 clear inside the time and yet again we were closest to the optimum to complete a double win! The teams were 4th in the 90 and 3rd in the 100, I qualified both individually for the championships at Aston Le Walls in March which is very exciting. 

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Winning round

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This rounded off a great year, while we may have had a quiet one of the eventing front with various weather conditions and other factors limiting runs. I have been reviewing the horses performance and it has really brought home what a lovely pair of mares I have. Considering this time last year my confidence had hit rock bottom, I wasn't even wanting to ride Fliss and was totally lacking confidence we have come a huge way and I am enjoying them again.


My project pony (that I planned to sell this year) has been a revelation, huge fun and as a result came off the market! She has competed in all affiliated disciplines 


11 classes at British dressage

58 points (all at Novice)

Average score: 69.5%

4 wins and 10 top 3 finishes

Show Jumping

38 classes at BS (British Novice to 1.05)

17 Double Clears

7 wins and 23 places 

174 points

£310 prize money

British Eventing 

6 runs this year at BE90 and BE100

2 wins and 5th at 100 2nd and 6th at 90

5 Double clears - only 11.6 penalties total added after dressage all season

Average finish score 30.95


Reserve Champion Working Hunter Pony Stithians Agricultural Show

5th Riding Club Area Dressage

Winner Riding Club Area Arena Eventing Qualifier at 100 level

I think it is safe to say Ellie has been simply awesome a dream to have and produce as well as fun and competitive to take out. 


Fliss has been with me just over a year and has competed less focusing on strengthening up and establishing her way of going yet she too has been very successful and great fun to produce.


2 affiliated classes

A 3rd place

Average score 65%

Show Jumping

38 BS jumping classes British Novice to Newcomers

19 Double Clears

3 wins and 14 placings

180 points

£252 winnings

British Eventing

2 runs BE

Double clear 80 and 90

3rd BE80 Bicton


Winner Riding Club Area Arena Eventing Qualifier at 90 level

Double clear in winning team for Area 51 (Cornwall) qualifying for national BS championships

Both girls have done no competing in December but plans are already being made for 2019, weather permitting we are hoping to have an early start to the season. They will go to the Riding Club Arena eventing championships at Aston (only 7hrs drive) 10th March that hopefully both run in the 100 at Pontispool the following weekend (this will be a step up for Fliss) She will then hopefully establish at this level while we are aiming to step Ellie up to Novice. Quite daunting for a 14.2 pony!

I have started saving big time as with two horses out eventing funds will be tight but hoping to enjoy them while I can. They will also both hopefully consolidate their dressage and show jumping.

Christmas has been quiet, some lovely hacking and looking forward to getting back in the swing of the training.

Follow the journey at

Happy New Year to all

January 4, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Wagon

One of our Suregrow Fertiliser wagons in the Scottish Highlands

December 10, 2018  |   Share:

Winter Paddock Care Advice

Without doubt Winter can mean limited time for many people with daylight hours restricted but it is still important to remember to look after your paddocks.

Regular management throughout the Autumn and Winter months will help paddocks flourish by the time Spring arrives.

Keep an eye on the condition of your paddocks and try and spend some time at the weekends thinking how best to keep them in decent order.

During wet periods paddocks can easily get poached so try to rotate the land regularly to allow the grass time to rest.

If poached areas occur, perhaps around gateways, try alternating different entrances. Matting can be laid to protect the ground in Spring, but during Winter try wood chip or straw to absorb the moisture.

A daily check of your boundaries, fence and gates should be carried out to ensure everything is secure and cannot cause injury. Remove all droppings, weeds or rubbish that maybe in the field.

When Spring arrives identify if your paddock is lacking nutrients. You may want to give your grass a boost with Suregrow Fertiliser, ideal for sustained grass growth it helps to stimulate root development and strength.

Suregrow CSM Contains over 70 minerals and trace elements, and acts as a soil conditioner and improves the eating quality of grass which will give your paddocks a much needed refresh after the harsh weather.

Specialising in the care of grassland for horses and ponies, Suregrow has a range of products including fertilisers, mineral and trace elements and grass seeds specifically selected for horse and pony paddocks, as well as the ultimate in arena and ground care management.

Suregrow products include Suregrow Fertiliser, CSM, Paddock Grass Seed Mix, Fast Grass, Meadow and Laminitics Grass Mix.

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November 19, 2018  |   Share: