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:

Sarah-Jane Brown 2018 Review

The event season is over and it has certainly been a funny one. With the wet start and events cancelled left, right and centre, followed by a period of dry and hard it has meant we have had limited runs. Saying that as I spend periods in the dark side both doing dressage and show jumping we have certainly kept busy.

Ellie (my 14.1 project pony) has run 7 times this season, sadly missing her last run to finish at Bicton with a very slight virus. Whilst we may not have had quantity we have certainly had quality with six out of seven placings, no cross country penalties, only a single pole show jumping and two wins at BE100. Real feel we are ready to tackle a novice sometime next year.

Our last run at Dauntsey which is always demanding was nearly as satisfying as her two wins. Haven't competed at Dauntsey for a few years now and it has always been renowned as a top end course that asks plenty of questions at all levels. Really good to be able to take Ellie who is now well established at this level and see how she coped. We were also in a very hot section with the top riders including this year’s Badminton winner, a WEG team gold medalist and a host of other WEG team members. I actually love testing ourselves with the best, the commentator XC said how unfortunate I was to be in such a hot class but actually to do well in this company is a huge achievement.

Dressage was probably my least favourite test, with an extra halt and 15 meters circles. I seemed to have a crisis about these circles and usually end up with them the wrong shape or size. Luckily this time we nailed them and did a very sweet test. The main areas to work on are our downward transitions particularly from canter to trot, this was a bit abrupt and fell on her forehand. However, I was chuffed with a score of 30.5 with the best in our section being on 27. Always nice when I judge comments 'Lots to like about her'. (Not sure if that meant the rider had less to like or I am just being over sensitive?) 

Show jumping was a bright course which was jumping quite well. It is not unusual at Dauntsey for a local eventing celebrity to steward this year it was none other than Mark Todd manning the gate. The warm-up was pretty hard (everything else was fine) so kept my time here to a minimum and just jumped four jumps before going in. I can't believe how much this phase has improved this year and she went in and jumped a super round, we did have a lucky tap at fence 7 but the pole stayed up and we completed a clear round. 

So onto Cross country and I was slightly worried it was certainly the toughest course Ellie has jumped to date with a variety of boldness and technical questions. It started nicely with three flowing forward questions before fence four a brush with a decent ditch in front in the dark under the trees jumping out in the light. Ellie paused going into the darker bit but once she understood what she was jumping powered out over the brush. A simple fence followed before a usual looking combination with a pole over a single upright log holding it on the turn to another identical fence. I wasn't sure how well she would read it and got her back to a more showjumping canter but she understood the question easily turned for the second part locked on and was away. A good hedge followed then a style before a small step up on the angle to a skinny house which she locked on and understood easily. We then turned over the ditch rails and down to the quarry with a rail in before coming up and out over a meaty corner. We had a bit of a duff stride to the corner and had to get quite a short one in meaning it was easy for her to run out, she had no intention of this and popped up and out easily. A few easy fences followed before the first water, for these we cross the river but a log was situated on the top of a bank down under the trees, she kept quite low but there was no hesitation, through the water and up and out over a big brush fence. The brush fence was big enough as we were coming up the hill it was made even bigger by the fact that I stood her off a stride meaning she had to grow pony wings, this she did with ease and made nothing of it! A couple more fences before the last water and unfortunately I made a costly mistake and took the track to the novice water meaning I had to circle turn back to the correct track jump the boat down to the water, through and up over the skinny rail (see video). Sadly this mistake cost us 2 time faults which was frustrating but actually eventually only cost us a single place.

I was delighted in such a competitive section to finish 5th on the same score as Jonelle Price. 

Fliss only ended up running twice on the event circuit with two double clears at 80 and 90 but she struggled with her frame running with her head on the ground which is a tad disconcerting. Experiments with tack including bitting and nosebands has eventually found a solution, the drop noseband with a chain at the back has stopped her crossing her jaw and plunging her head down with a nice rubber bit so if she crosses her jaw she is only fighting herself.

She did her first affiliated dressage last month and showed her versatility by being in the places in a strong class. She will have a winter ticking over both on the flat and jumping. Ellie has had a few weeks off and is now back in work and like Fliss will have a fun winter with a mix of training, competition and hacking.

For me I dread winter, luckily with the help of Suregrow grass should see me through but I find it hard with working and no school forcing me out on the roads which are increasingly dangerous. I am trying to ensure we have plenty of things to look forward to over the winter to keep motivated!

I have already booked another training session with Caroline Moore, am representing the riding club in dressage and arena eventing, have outings in dressage and show jumping planned so hopefully we will be ready to get a good start eventing in the spring.

It is sometimes the simple things that give the pleasure. The fact that Kensa (2 year old daughter of my advanced mare Sarnita) was good to come in and have her feet trimmed with her field mate Tommy was very satisfying. As far as the babies are concerned they have been pretty much left to their own devices to grow up with plenty of good grazing and shelter but minimal other attention and handling. They do lead well now but otherwise will be left another 18 months to grow and mature naturally.

To keep up to date check out my website


November 6, 2018  |   Share:

Success for Caroline Powell

Suregrow sponsored rider Caroline Powell was on winning form at Eventing Waregem. CHANCE ENCOUNTER won the CIC** with a super double clear, SERGEANT CRISP came 6th in the same class, and the super cute MISTER HIGGINS came 2nd in the CIC* finishing on his 30.7 dressage score!


September 28, 2018  |   Share:

Suregrow Support Allerton Park Horse Trials

Suregrow had a fantastic time sponsoring the Intermediate and Open Intermediate classes at Allerton Park Horse Trials. Congratulations to Paul Burgess, Isabel White and James Sommerville on winning the sections.


September 18, 2018  |   Share:

Team GBR take Bronze in the Dressage Grand Prix.

Team GBR took the Bronze medal in the Dressage Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, USA.

HR_WEG18_TRYON_DR_GBR_HESTER-27582 - low.jpgThe team, made up of Charlotte Dujardin, Emile Faurie, Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton, helped the team to achieve qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics following two days of competition. 

Suregrow sponsored rider Carl Hester, based in Gloucestershire, took to the U.S. Trust Arena with Lady Anne Evans, Ann Cory and his own Hawtins Delicato. Producing some stunning work with the ten year-old gelding, the pair were rewarded with a score of 77.283%, a personal best in the Grand Prix with Del [Hawtins Delicato].

Said Carl: “I knew I’d have to have the ride of my life today and I did.  I had 77% in my mind as my target, not that I told anyone that, so I couldn’t be more pleased but I’m surprised!  Earlier in the week I didn’t think he’d cope but I rode him early this morning in the arena in walk and he felt relaxed so I thought I might have a good ride. He absolutely put his heart into that test.”ith Lady Anne Evans, Ann Cory and his own Hawtins Delicato. Producing some stunning work with the ten year-old gelding, the pair were rewarded with a score of 77.283%, a personal best in the Grand Prix with Del.

Charlotte Dujardin, based Gloucestershire, with Mount St John Freestyle, owned by The Mount St John Stud, entered the arena just before the final session. With the stunning nine year-old mare, the duo shone in the Tryon sun, producing a stunning test to score 77.764%.

“What an amazing horse to come here and do that!” said an elated Charlotte. “To cope with the environment and produce a test like that, I’m over the moon with her. There’s a lot of expectation on her and I’m so proud that she didn’t bother with anything; she’s so exciting for the future. There were a couple of mistakes but easy to fix and I couldn’t really have asked for more from her, she’s a real trier.”

Spencer Wilton and Emile Faurie put the British team in a promising position after completing their tests yesterday, scoring 72.795 and 74.581 respectively.

In the end it was Germany who took Team Gold after finishing on a final team total of 242.950. The USA finished second with 233.136 just ahead of Great Britain in third with 229.628.HR_WEG18_TRYON_DR_GP_GBR_TEAM-37929 - low.jpg

Photo credit John Stroud.

September 18, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown August Blog

Where has the time flown we are already in Autumn fast approaching winter. It has been a funny old season with such a wet winter and then a hot dry summer. Huge thanks to Suregrow for their support as I still have grass for the girls and in fact quite proud of my grassland management. I poo pick daily in the summer, remove any offending thistles and docks as well as use Suregrow fertiliser and CSM. The grass is looking great and both the worm counts have been 0 at the last test. One of the cogs in ensuring they both perform well.

We have had a very busy month and lots of placings at all affiliated disciplines as well as some great training including a couple of great sessions with Caroline Moore.

Ever wonder if something is a silly idea? Was driving 3.5hrs each way for a couple of lessons going to be worth it. The Caroline Moore was at Millfield School, luckily the evening before I worked out not the same location as the horse trials otherwise could have been very confused.

Fliss was on first and the lesson focused on technical exercises towards xc using a variety of material and skinny fences. This is very new to Fliss and she coped really well soon getting the idea of skinnies. The video gives a good reflection of the exercises we worked through. Loved the imaginative use of dressage boards far better than doing flat work in!

The main points for me to take away from Fliss's session were:-

x - Try her in a different bridle, Micklems hold the bit low in the mouth and not ideal for horses that don't take the bit

x - Don't tip forward (might of heard that before)

x - Keep eyes up and ahead

x - Ride more forward

Ellie's session was slightly more advanced, it was great as Caroline adjusted the exercises to the group she had and what they wanted to achieve. Ellie was on fire, really pinging and picking up the difficult technical exercises really easily.


I have to admit the improvement Ellie has shown this year has taken me by surprise having thought maybe we had reached our level I think we can progress again to the next level in all disciplines.

The main point from Caroline for me with Ellie is to be bolder and more forward in the way of going.

For Fliss from here it was onto West Wilts BE for her first BE90 and second BE run. We were delighted with another double clear although rather slow cross country. She has got into the habit of working with her head down and that isn’t to ride and she can see a fence quite late. Whilst I am great believer that correct riding and schooling should always be the main way of improving the way of going I have had a play with tack and bits too. Bridle wise as suggested by Caroline Moore I have put her back in a conventional cavesson bridle, removed the martingale but am using an old fashioned running gag which is helping to bring her up off her head. This weekend we jumped her at Tall Trees in the BS and there was quite an improvement in her way of going. I doubt she will event again this year as we establish her way of going.

Ellie had her first BE run for a couple of months returning to Treborough where she won last time out.

Treborough has always been a lucky event for us but I never thought after our win there at the last BE event we could repeat the feat. I think I have said before it is the most fabulous venue on Exmoor with views to the sea and the ground is always very good and copes with any weather.

Ellie was pleased to be out eventing again and her dressage was a little tighter than I would have liked as she was eagerly anticipating the fun bits! I rode the test in more of a safe manner focusing on being v accurate. Luckily the judge liked it and we scored a 27 which was second best of the day in our arena. 

Treborough had live scoring and it is brilliant how quick it is. I'm not sure sometimes if it is a blessing or a curse as I went into show jumping knowing I was provisionally in the lead albeit others had show jumped and some even XC'ed but if I kept a clean sheet I would win.

Show jumping was a nice friendly track but Ellie was slightly causal, I guess we have jumped some bigger tracks recently and she definitely jumps best when challenged. Saying that she jumped a neat enough round but just dropped a hind toe on fence 6 for faults which was frustrating. 

This dropped us to provisional 5th but as we advanced towards XC and others had time faults or jumping penalties we moved back up to 2nd with the leader also to go XC. The track was very similar to the course at the last event so no major concerns but equally need to be very aware not to make any silly mistakes. Also knew I needed to keep her moving to ensure we made the time. 

She was amazing absolutely eating up the course and making it feel very straightforward. She is very balanced and surefooted meaning we can make up time down slopes or on turns and comes quickly back to hand when needed. She opened out nicely over the first 3 and then as we went down the track to fence 4 she was most put out that I steered her round the novice fence and not over it! She was quickly through the quarry and onto the middle element of the course where the camera picks us up. The corner is made more difficult by a dip in the ground 3 strides away but she hardly noticed this and kept on a great stride flying it. The drop to the brush she flew as she did the rails to water. We popped the last and I knew we were inside the time so dropped reins and patted her coming back to trot just inside the finish. Actually we only ended up 1 second inside the time so maybe shouldn't have been quite as causal!

The horse that had been leading had time faults so we had repeated the feat and won again, you can imagine how over the moon I was with Ellie. However on checking my scores I saw I had dropped to 19th with 10 jumping penalties given to me. 

I went to the secretaries and queried this penalty. I was given it for trotting over the finish. A rule has been introduced since the allowing of stop watches at lower levels to prevent competitors going round at break neck speed and then using the watch to slow down over the finish or final fences. The rule is you shouldn't deliberately slow down for this purpose. I asked to speak to the BE steward and explained that I had simply relaxed on finishing and as I was only a second inside the time it wasn't to avoid being too fast. I was given an opportunity to explain what had happened and the steward spoke to the start team and the scorers and it was decided that as it wasn't deliberate the penalties could be removed. Huge relief and big lesson learned that I need to keep travelling through the finish whatever the circumstances.

So we had our second win in the two Treborough events and so proud of Ellie. She was barely blowing or sweating when finished so certainly very fit. Hopefully have the opportunity to get another 2 or 3 runs in before the end of the season. 

August was a really busy month so to catch up with our other highlights check out my blog at


September 7, 2018  |   Share:

Second Place for Oliver at Burghley

Huge congratulations to our Suregrow sponsored rider Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, who took second place at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. 

September 4, 2018  |   Share:

Get the Lowdown on Robert Whitaker

LEADING British rider Robert Whitaker has six European team gold medals and an individual bronze at European pony, junior and young rider championships.

Sponsored by Suregrow, Robert has also represented his country on senior Nations Cup teams on more than 25 occasions.

Son of the legendary John Whitaker, Robert is aRobert Whitakerlr.jpgn international star in his own right. He is a top producer of young horses, with a show jumping business in the south of England.

The family’s incredible show jumping success may have started many years ago, but with two representatives at the 2016 Olympic Games, this Yorkshire dynasty is showing no sign of slowing down.

Born: January 16, 1983 in Yorkshire.

Family: wife Kate and daughters Evie and Millie.

Best current horse: Catwalk

Best ever horse: Lacroix

Horse I would love to ride: McLain Ward’s mare HH Azur. She’s something else.

Equestrian hero: Ludger Beerbaum

Best ever win: The Grand Prix in Madrid on Nicolette.

Equestrian ambition: To be world number one. The Olympics would be good too.

Alternative career: I haven’t a clue, but it would have to involve making money!

Did you know? I hold the world record for the bareback puissance. In 2011 in Stockholm, I cleared a 2.12m wall riding Waterstone without a saddle.

Top Paddock Tip: Fertilising is a vital component to achieving a well-balanced paddock. It stimulates root development, resulting in a denser sward and therefore suppressing weed growth. We use Suregrow fertiliser twice a year on our paddocks, which keeps them in excellent condition.

September 4, 2018  |   Share: