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Highs and lows for Sarah-Jane in her latest blog

It has been a mixed time since my last blog, some consolidation for Fliss and some frustrating times for Ellie. The weather has also been a struggle with the exception of a week in June. It has been so dry meaning the ground is hard and we are struggling to get the work into the horses at home and competitions have to be carefully picked or left for another day to avoid hard ground. Regular readers of my blog will know I don’t have a school at home so I do all my work in a field or hacking. Most of the year this works fine, but when it gets this dry, it does limit what I can do. 
 
Big thanks to Suregrow despite the dry weather my grass is looking great and with the girls sharing one field we had a bumper crop of hay off the other. 
 
So last time I blogged Fliss had just done her first Novice BE at Howick with a double clear. We followed this with a trip to West Wilts. I had sworn not to go to West Wilts this year as it is on the limit of our travel for a novice (four and a half hours), and it is a notoriously unlucky venue for us where we never get placed. Saying all that the showjumping is on a lovely surface, the cross country tracks are well maintained and offer a good variety of fences. I also chose it as it has relatively soft water for the level and this is an area we still need to progress with Fliss. I already had the course photos and thought the course looked quite soft for the level, on walking it I found the pictures were a tad misleading and in fact it was one of the stronger West Wilts tracks with a tricky combination on the mound at six and a couple of other combinations that asked questions.  
 
The old butterflies fluttered and self-doubts raised their ugly heads! Even the showjumping looked a big track and that should be our most comfortable phase. We had an early start with dressage at 8.06. The test used was 110 which is a more straightforward novice test and I thought Fliss tried hard and offered a consistent obedient test. I still find that in the arena with smaller movements she tightens up in the frame but it is improving all the time. We scored 34.5 which was about middling for the day and a two mark improvement on Howick.
 
It was a quick turn around and we were show jumping by 8.45. Luckily by this time I remembered what a superstar I was riding. I focused on keeping the canter forward and up and then pointed her at the fences. She was on springs giving them inches and making the whole round feel very smooth.
 
Cross country was definitely going to be Fliss's biggest test to date, a step up from Howick. I was very aware it was important to set momentum and rhythm over the first four simple fences before we really got into the meat of the course. She warmed up super but set off out the start box and locked her jaw tilting her head giving me a dead contact. The first two fences were therefore spent softening the jaw and getting her off my leg and into the bridle. Luckily by three and four she was jumping super. Fence five was the water with a blue roll top before and after. I was really pleased as she just kept her momentum through the combination and the water. Fence six was the fence that really worried me the most and also a fence that Fliss would never have seen the like of. A steep pull up to a log and then two strides to sloped rails with the ground significantly dropping on the landing. We rather fiddled our way through adding a stride and lost some impulsion nevertheless there was never any danger of a fault. I was so pleased to get the fence out the way and I promptly set sail up the field when I should have been turning left through the gateway and lost myself 15 seconds of time and half frightened an innocent spectator to death! Once re-aligned we popped through a meaty wide tree stump to a brush nicely. A nice hedge and then through the coffin, over a big hay cart and then parallel rails before turning to the corner. Fliss is always great with corners and we had a good line but about a stride and a half out I felt her slip right out her shoulder and go to run past right, luckily a slap down the shoulder (always make sure the whip is in the correct hand) and she straightened and made a somewhat awkward jump over the corner. A decent step to a skinny and a couple of plain fences again before the camera picks us up coming home over the combination of spread fences with barrels underneath. 
 
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She came home full of running and really confident which I was delighted with. We had too many time penalties to trouble the placing’s although we may have been slightly closer without my detour!
 
We then headed back to the dark side with both girls for some showjumping at Chard. Both girls picked up some frilly’s but Fliss was particularly clever to come 10th in the Discovery second round. 
 
I had some exciting training plans at the end of June which was rather disrupted. We were heading to Lyneham Heath for a couple of lessons with Owen Moore.  Some may have questioned my sanity as this involved a 480 mile round trip. To add to this we were going to go to Treborough for cross-country schooling on the way back. 
 
I had lessons booked for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, stabling Wednesday night at Lyneham and at Pontispool Thursday night so we could go to Treborough Friday morning. With Fliss having progressed quite quickly up the levels in BE, I felt this was a much needed time to take stock and prioritize any issues to work on. 
 
Sadly on the Monday I received an email saying Owen was unwell and wouldn't be able to teach. We debated going anyway and in the end decided to postpone until later on in the year. We decided instead just to head to Treborough on Wednesday to school round the flagged track which was merely a six hour round trip! Treborough is the most beautiful venue and I suggested to a friend she came too as she hadn't seen much of Exmoor.
 
As much as I love Treborough the one disadvantage is the drive, it is hilly and tight in places. As we got closer and gained height we came into fog and the visibility was very poor making driving even more difficult. We arrived at about 11am and made our way into the field. Sadly the fog meant I could barely see the lorry at 10ft!
 
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The total sum of spectators at Treborough was my friend who dragged me and we saw some grass and a piece of string roping off the trade stand area.
 
We had lunch and waited for it to clear, and waited and waited and in the end we gave up! I understood it cleared at 5pm by which time we were long gone. We did make a hasty plan B (or should it be z) and rang Stockland Lovell where we could do some cross-country schooling. This meant navigating off the moor in thick fog down a different windy and hilly trail. About five miles from Treborough down the hill the fog cleared and the sun shone - so frustrating!  
 
Water is the main thing we wanted to play with as I know this can still be a weak area where she needs more experience jumping in so we warmed up by the water and then cantered through it. The water was quite green in places but soon got her used to it trotting round and through. We then progressed to jumping in over a small log and out over a triple brush type fence. There was a reasonable little drop in and went to pop that in and she said she couldn't possibly drop into green stuff. So I went back in popped out up the drop a few times before turning round and asking her to go back in. Still a big 'no way' and just switched off on me. She is so genuine but sometimes if she really isn't sure it just won't happen. So there was only one thing for it, I had to paddle again. I stepped into the water in my short boots which quickly filled up and I had very wet feet. I have to say this is where she is very trusting because she immediately followed me in to the water and we repeated this a few times. I got back on and now she understood what she needed to do and jumped straight in.
 
We carried on round the course to the other water which was clear and probably would have been the better one to start on. It had a variety of little steps in and one about the same size we had the fuss over initially. This time she was really confident and just popped in all the different ways so hopefully we are still progressing. I just have to be aware that water is something I need to work on and if any doubt carry a lunge line and wellies!
 
Overall, when things don't go right it is frustrating you can't improve things or correct them if the problems don't show themselves. By the end she was jumping confidently in to both water areas from a slow jog giving her time to look, think and hopefully learn. It is clearly something we will need to work hard at but hopefully over time she will learn to trust me as much in the saddle as she does un-mounted.
 
Both horses were entered for Bicton BE but unfortunately a few weeks before Ellie had a runny nose and although it was a minor setback her work was drastically reduced and she was withdrawn. Fliss did go for a Novice run but in all honesty I was struggling to get motivated and ready for cross-country. The ground despite a sterling effort was firm enough and that was the excuse I needed to leave it for another day. We did an average dressage and a nice clear showjumping so no setbacks, well, just a little one in my head! 
 
Looking forward I am hoping we get some proper rain soon and until we do will be focusing more on the showjumping.
 
To finish off with some very exciting news, my mare Sarnita who is loaned to a friend has had a beautiful filly foal. Sarnie is a fabulous and proud mum.
 
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July 15, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Sponsor the Kidney Pond at Bramham International Horse Trials

SUREGROW Fertiliser are delighted to announce their sponsorship of the Kidney Pond at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.

Specialising in the care of grassland for horses and ponies Suregrow has a range of products including fertilisers and grass seeds specifically selected for horse and pony paddocks.

Bramham International Horse Trials takes place from June 6to 9 on the Bramham Estate, near Wetherby.

Suregrow has sponsored the Kidney Pond at the Bramham International Horse Trials for the past decade.

The three day event will see excellent equestrian sporting entertainment, as well as the trade-stand village, offering an exciting shopping experience, including indoor and outdoor clothing, ideas for home and garden as well as everything for the horse and rider.

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Kidney Pond at such a fantastic event. We wish all the competitors the best of luck.”

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June 3, 2019  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown May Blog

A lot seems to have happened since our last blog and we have made some huge progression particularly with Fliss. Ellie in fact had a minor setback and a few weeks off and had her first competition yesterday when she was 2nd in a Discovery at Scorrier and Chacewater show. The show is just up the road and with a £15 gain on our entry fees it may be the first time for a long time I can truly say we came home in profit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7ri8PB_F9U

Looking forward to getting her fully back up to speed over the next month. Fliss meanwhile has had an awesome few weeks. We started the BE season at Bovington, the event was rather overshadowed as the night before on arrival at stabling we lost our recently homed rescue dog Rosie. She managed to escape from the lorry and run to the woods where despite many sightings we were unable to recapture her. The Dorset community and Dog Lost organisations were fabulous but it was actually 5 days before we managed to recapture her and honestly I think we were very lucky we got her back. You will see in the picture she now wears a GPS tracker. We did manage a run at Bovington and had a fairly uninspiring double clear with minds very much elsewhere.

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A week later with Rosie very firmly secured, we went to a boiling Bicton horse trials for Fliss’s second BE100 event over a much more testing track. A 31.5 dressage score, despite a rider error, was then complimented by another double clear for a very pleasing 4th place.

XC video

https://youtu.be/Xb0t1uBY5hg

 

The lovely thing with Fliss is we can enjoy both show jumping and eventing. So the next competition was a trip to Dorset show ground for some jumping.

On day 1 I actually wimped out of jumping on grass as Fliss was very fresh and I wanted to start on the surface (what sort of eventer am I?) I was keen to try and be a bit more competitive at this show as I felt she had progressed enough to ask a little more in the jump off. In the Newcomers I did have a go in the jump off but rather flattened her round a corner meaning we had a pole down. 

I was a little disappointed with the pole but then made a very brave decision and entered the Foxhunter. This would be the biggest class I have jumped for five years. I was attracted by the fact it was A7 and therefore had a separate jump off meaning that the first round wouldn't be too huge, I hoped. I walked it and it was a proper Foxhunter track, definitely one that it was better not to get too close to some of the fences. Fliss was amazing, a bit too good, and made it feel easy jumping a super easy clear round. I had quietly hoped for an unlucky four faults and not have to go into an increased height jump off!

The best thing for me was not to watch the jump off being put up but by this time the course would be a good 1.25 / 1.30. I wasn't getting any ideas of going for a fast jump off and was delighted despite Fliss tiring slightly to jump another clear round. A big bonus was second place, in a small class, and the Foxhunter frilly for the best Foxhunter horse in the class.

On the second day I was determined to do at least one class on the grass. I couldn't decide whether to be bold and jump the 1.15 on the grass first or take an easier option and jump the 1.05 later in the day. I walked the 1.15 which was single phase meaning some of the second half was 1.20 / 1.25. I have to say it looked big and the ring although large was fairly undulating adding to difficulty. In normal circumstances I may have had better sense however considering just how well she had jumped the day before I entered. A good warm up and with instructions ringing in my ear to keep the canter going forward and up I went in. I needn't have worried she made the course feel very easy. I remember approaching the first fence thinking it was a big track and then trying to change my thought to how lucky I was to ride her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CjFSRMZr6A

With the double clear we finished 4th in the class only 0.5 second off the prize money. I didn't want to keep pushing my luck and finished the day jumping the Newcomers on the arena. The track seemed relatively small after the previous two classes. I did decide that it would be a good opportunity to have another go at a quick jump off and this time it came off! In a class of open horses and Newcomers horses we were 2nd overall and won the best Newcomers frilly!

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The icing on the cake came with another what I felt was brave decision and after only four BE events (1x80, 1x90, 2x100) we entered our first Novice BE at Howick.

Dressage was 8.12 but to be honest I like to get it over with sooner rather than later. The dressage test was probably the phase that worried me most as perhaps it lacked some attention in the build-up. Warming up with the who's who of eventing is always fun and I had to make sure I didn't crash into any of them whilst name spotting! We focused on our own warm up and I don't think Fliss was too overawed anyway. We followed two professional into the arena but Fliss really pulled the stops out and did a great test for her stage of education. Yes the leg yields were slightly unbalanced, she needed more stretch and length in her neck but there were no major mistakes. The judge reflected this with mainly 6's throughout for a 36.3.%. 

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Show jumping turned out to be the most influential phase of the day. The course was up to height and on quite a sloping arena, the most influential fence was a treble built going up the hill off a corner and although the distances walked true in retrospect it was built a little on the long side.

We were 3rd to jump and this worked in our favour as I didn't realise the carnage the course would cause particularly early in the day. Considering the amount of show jumping Fliss has done she felt a bit green in the ring and if you look at the video you will see how honest she was at the treble. She backed off slightly going in and then struggled for the distances and really could have stopped at the last element instead she used her wings to fly. She coped well otherwise and finished the course well. Looking at the stats particularly considering the standard of riders competing there were only 35% clear in the show jumping and very proud Fliss was one of them.

So the hour to wait for cross country seemed to drag! The course was pretty nice nothing seemed too huge but there were some real technical questions that I was worried whether she would lock on in time. The ground was firm but with last week’s rain and the grass covering it was pretty acceptable for me who is rather fussy. It was finally time to get on and head for the start, we were 3rd to go again and with a good warm up we were ready to roll.

We set out over the first three in a nice rhythm, I wasn't intending aiming for the time but equally wanted a good forward round and not get too defensive. The first combination came at fence 4 with some offset houses which she just tried to get a bit straight for but still popped through really nicely. Then came the fences that worried me most a decent spread with five or six strides to an upright rail and turn by the hedge to a triple brush. She jumped the spread well and we sat back and popped the rails, I then made room moving away from the triple to get a good line and plenty of set up room, once locked on we moved forward and over. Some simple fences followed including a lovely jump over a big hay cart before we had a combination with a narrow brush through a gateway, she flew this before arriving at my next concern. A big box brush on six curving strides to a decent corner, saw a lovely stride to the first and remembered Caroline Moore’s advice of using the eye to find the line and we had a lovely forward stride to the corner. We then flew down the hill to the ditch palisade and here she really backed off and had to have a reminder on take-off not sure what monsters she saw in the ditch but it wouldn't usually bother her. We then came to the water with a fence a stride back, we got there and she suddenly saw the water and backed right off rather clambering over the first element, she landed and went in ok and out over the c element. Clearly we still have some hesitancy over water that needs work before she is asked bigger questions. She finished the course really well so obviously no confidence lost.

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We were only 18 seconds over the time and finished on a very respectable 43.1 which I was delighted with. I certainly think we can see that Fliss is very capable at this level and very exciting to plan for the future.

So looking ahead we have entered the Novice at West Wilts. It is a case of balancing both girls needs with funds for training and competition, sadly what I would like to do and what I can realistically do is slightly different!

May 21, 2019  |   Share:

Allana Clutterbuck Takes the Suregrow Grand Prix at Royal Windsor

Essex-based Allana Clutterbuck secured the Suregrow Grand Prix at the Royal Windsor Horse Show after a superb effort riding Vykinbay.

The 10-year-old Vykinbay and Allana took the title with an impressive clear round in a time of 36.69 seconds.

Allana has been riding Vykinbay for a year and they have quickly formed a great partnership.

The dark bay gelding, is currently on top form with a string of wins on the circuit including winning the Team Junior Nations Cup in Opglabbeek, Sentower Park, Belgique.

Said Allana: “It was unbelievable to win, the atmosphere was amazing. It is the first time I have ridden at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, it felt such a privilege to head the class.”

The Grand Prix Senior 1.35 class sponsored by Suregrow Fertiliser was an exciting event drawing a great line-up riders fighting it out for the top places.

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We were delighted to sponsor the Suregrow Fertiliser Grand Prix Senior 1.35 class. Well done to Allana and Vykinbay, it was a fantastic result.”

Specialising in the care of grassland for horses and ponies Suregrow has a range of products including fertilisers and grass seeds specifically selected for horse and pony paddocks.

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May 21, 2019  |   Share:

Oliver Townend Wins Kentucky Three-Day Event

Huge congratulation to Suregrow Fertiliser sponsored rider Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class who defended their title at Kentucky Three-Day Event. The pair finished on an impressive score of 25.3.

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April 29, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold Championship

Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold Championship Dannie Morgan and Jonathan Cox from Suregrow Fertiliser.

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April 26, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold Championship

With ten horses entered during the week that were born at Headmore Stud, it was likely they’d feature well in the placings but in the SureGrow UK Elementary Freestyle Gold, it was a case of domination.

First of the Headmore trio was the six-year-old Florencio-sired Headmore Figaro, owned by Sarah Oppenheimer with Dannie Morgan in the saddle. Due to a withdrawal, they were also the first of the class and what a start to make! A captivating floorplan with as much technicality as the level allows to music which was so apt for the cheerful chestnut. A massive score of 78.78% was announced…gauntlet firmly laid down.

Next was the Belissimo M mare Headmore Bella Ruby with Alice Oppenheimer. This duo were still flying high from their Equi-Trek Elementary Gold and they looked pretty spot on. Again excellent music with a flat plan packed with difficulty greeted the judges who duly obliged with a score of 77.37% to put Alice second.

The combinations gave their all including Dannie with his second ride, Nicola Callam’s High Hoes Florizel, but they couldn’t come close.

Then the penultimate to go was Alice with her second ride, Headmore Dionysus, a half brother to Bella Ruby in sharing the same dam, Headmore’s legendary Rubinsteena but this time with Dimaggio as the sire. ‘Dillon’ was bridesmaid on Thursday in the straight class but being a year older, today he showed that extra strength and was a picture in the arena. Again, perfectly selected music by Sara Green accompanied well thought out movements. They halted and saluted knowing it was going to be a good score. The commentator started…78…point…20%. Dannie and ‘Jack’ were champions.

“I’m really pleased with him,” exclaimed Dannie. “I broke him in as a three year old and produced him along the way. He was fourth here last year and then second at the Nationals at Novice so it’s great to come here and get the win.

“He’s got a great walk and he’s very secure in the medium canter plus he can do the simple changes so I’ve really worked on a technical floor plan. I didn’t mind going first, I just went in and gave the judges something to sit up and watch!” he continued.

Alice was emotional afterwards. “It’s been an incredible week for Headmore. Six wins so far and three seconds, just amazing. Dannie and I have had some banter; ‘my walk is better, but no my music is’ – it’s been fun and in the end, it didn’t matter who won. Bella Ruby felt a bit tired today, she’s not a physically developed as Dillan but for all three to get those scores and be so far ahead of the other is great, they’re so clever! That was definitely the coolest prize giving I’ve ever done!

“I have to thank Sara Green for her amazing skill in putting my music together. The detail she puts into every one and captures the horse’s personality is amazing. She’ll certainly be part of our celebrations.

“It’s been a big build up for all the horses and I can’t fault any of them this week. It’s been very emotional and I’ve had the full range of ups and downs!” said Alice.

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “Congratulations to Dannie and Headmore Figaro on winning the championship with a fantastic result.

“Dannie Morgan's score of 78.782% was the highest score of the entire championships, an amazing achievement! We are pleased to support such a prestigious dressage series.”
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April 12, 2019  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown March Blog

Well I am pleased to say March was a busy month after the injury in February and short blog. I will break it down into some of the highlights.

Horsequest Arena Eventing Championships

A seven hour trip to Aston where we represented the Threewaters Riding Club at the Championships. I had qualified both girls individually after winning the qualifiers at Bicton Arena. 

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There were good bits and bad bits from the weekend. The weather whilst in early March can never be expected to be perfect was pretty far from it! It was bitterly cold, very windy and at times wet (we even had snow), staying in the lorry or even venturing out to watch wasn't that much fun. On the plus side there was great camaraderie from the Threewaters team (the 80 team had qualified as well).

So onto the important bit the competition, I was quietly hopeful that both girls had the potential to be competitive but sadly it was not to be although both learnt loads. The competition at Aston used three arenas, starting in one arena by the stables and lorries moving out through some gates and into the next arena via the water jump to the cross country space. I didn't really anticipate how green both my girls would feel having not done a competition like this where you move arenas.

Fliss was on first and the 90 course was lovely the only concern I had for Fliss was leaving the first arena and going straight into water. It didn't help that the water at this time had small waves as the worst of the gale force winds were buffeting the event, She jumped a nice clear show jumping round and was confident over the first cross country fence, she was surprised to leave the arena with purpose and then taken aback to see the water, she stopped half spun and then with leg on worked it out and trotted in. Sadly though a disobedience as far as the competition was concerned and 20 penalties. She proceeded to be a bit green in the arena but actually very genuine and jumped nicely round the rest of the course this included another water question which she did without hesitation.

Video of the 90 round. The pink colours are not my new colours for the 2019 season but team colours sponsored by Woof Wear. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SzlcXrskZY&t=1s

Even without our 20 penalties we would have been slightly slow to have been placed. Really good education for her though.

Ellie was doing the 100 course and I thought this asked some questions, fence 3 was a decent brush ditch, fence 5 had a couple of decent steps to a palisade and fence 7 was a big skinny. I didn't ride the show jumping very well I was a bit backward and that caused a pole to roll at the double. She too I could feel was slightly green leaving the arena but her greater experience came into play and she worked it out, she jumped a super round and cleared the joker which was strategically placed at the bottom of the slope. Although the pole would have been influential disappointingly the biggest influence was the time. Considering the time should have been quicker than Fliss's class we were 20 seconds inside the time despite not pushing it, in fact the majority of the class were inside the time. When I walked the course the day before there had been an additional couple of fences in the course and these were removed on the day I wonder if they hadn't adjusted the time accordingly! Anyway it is irrelevant and with a pole down we were never going to be in the top few anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olUcmETj87s

Austin O’Connor Boot Camp

Without doubt the highlight of our time away. I had been feeling a bit demotivated and this was just the kick in the right direction I needed! We travelled from Aston directly to Austin who was only an hour away.

Last year our few days with Austin really kick started our year and helped pull me out of the doldrums and it was great to come back to be pushed to the next stage. For anyone that doesn't know Austin is based at the fabulous Attington one of the premier training facilities in the area. An indoor school, huge outdoor arena is complimented by the most fabulous all weather cross country schooling facility.

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I think the yard we are housed in probably has housed stallions in the past with big solid high doors which Ellie in particular has to stand on tip toe to see over. We were lucky that Monday was beautiful weather and having met Austin in the school and discussed what we wanted from our few days training we decided to make the most of the weather and use the cross country arena.

Fliss was first up and I said we were aiming to start the season at BE100 and hoped to move up to Novice later in the season. We schooled with this aim in mind. He asked me to just pop a few fences to get a feel of how we were going. Once we had popped a few simple ones he asked me to ride a little more quietly and allow the fence to come to us and for Fliss to work out what was needed, he was happier at this stage for us to pop extra strides in and very much ride to our eye. We walked off some simple steps and trotted through the water (no hesitation). We gradually increased the difficulty of the exercises until we jumped some decent fences both into water and over some big ditch combinations. The video shows the progression through the session.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH0Y3Y4iCVY

Ellie also made use of the cross country and we spoke about the plans to take her Novice this season. Austin was very complimentary about Ellie and how well she was going. She did a few more advanced lines and fences than Fliss and enjoyed the challenge again finding easy answers for the questions asked. I couldn't be more delighted how well she went.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nMz143g6K4&t=22s

So day two was less kind and the weather turned we were lucky with Fliss and generally got away with it, yes it was windy but it only spat with rain, by the time it was Ellie's turn the heavens had opened!

In a lot of ways both horses worked on similar things in both flat and jump elements. On the flat it was very much a case of getting the horses forward into a soft contact, a slightly longer rein and working on the nose out and forward particularly with Fliss. Focusing on them carrying themselves and balancing themselves and not sitting on the hand. Using the gears in trot and canter and the medium paces to open them out and then using the seat and body to collect them back up again. You can see in the video how this has really helped Fliss's trot.

Jumping wise we did a number of athletic exercises. We focused on a couple of fences on a turn that walked four strides but with Fliss we did it in five thinking all the time quietly. The video shows how we progressed the exercise. Austin was very keen I didn't do too much for the horses and let them make their own mistakes. With Fliss he felt the odd canter pole, v rail or other things to focus the jump would be useful. Whilst she has a good jump she has enough scope that she doesn't always need to use it and therefore we need to focus her far more to help her develop and strengthen. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGp7lBj3Owo

Sadly as I said Ellie's session was not recorded as the rain was horizontal by this point! This is disappointing for a couple of reasons, mainly it is lovely for me to look back and recall what we have done and hear Austin's wise words, equally it is nice to show off when they have done something spectacular. In this case the medium trot Ellie found was amazing and the fact she jumped an upright of 1.30 was jaw dropping. I will admit we did tip it a couple of times but once her eye adjusted she soared over it.

We worked on the same exercises as Fliss with similar requirements to ride quietly and let Ellie make her own mistakes. Overall I was delighted as Austin was very complimentary on how well both had been produced to date and felt rather than repair any problems he was helping us move onto the next level and have confidence in our progression. I am desperate if possible to try and make time and finance for another trip to see Austin this year as a further push forward.

Chard and Pontispool Weekend

So a very productive few days away at Chard with some XC schooling added on for Fliss. Sadly Ellie isn't quite right at the moment and we are working to get to the bottom of the problem. Whilst I am quite happy to be very honest about this, at the moment I don't know what the precise nature of the problem and I don't want to speculate or do anything that may prejudice any likely insurance claim. Sadly though I think any plans in the next few months may be on hold. I promise I will update when I can but suffice to say Ellie is feeling very well in herself and mightily upset at being left at home while Fliss has had all the fun! I was quite tearful when driving away with Fliss whilst Ellie was whinnying at the gate!

Chard has to be one of the nicest show jumping venues and it is always exciting to see new developments on each visit. Very excited that another new arena will be in action later in the year. The courses at Chard are always top end for the level and I was delighted how well Fliss is coping and making the levels feel comfortable. Sadly whilst jumping clear rounds seems achievable I am struggling to be fast enough for the frilly's at the bigger levels. We only had one pole in four classes jumping the 1.05 and Newcomers tracks. 

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So I kindly gave Fliss the 3rd day off show jumping! Instead we headed to Pontispool for the first XC schooling of the season on grass. Can't believe how much she has come on. We jumped a variety of 100 and Novice fences and had her jumping confidently into water. We had a green moment when she didn't lock onto a triple brush (see video) but jumped genuinely on a represent. Good reminder to me she still lacks a lot of mileage cross country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yK9doXK4G8

Very proud of how Fliss is progressing.

We are now looking forward to our first BE events in April with entries in the 100 classes at Bovington and Bicton.

Also wanted to say a big thank you to Suregrows support again this year. My fields are looking fabulous and part of the reason my horses are in such good condition is the nutrition gained from the grazing which has survived the winter well. I have just received some CSM and fertiliser which I will be adding this month.

April 9, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Elementry Freestyle Silver Championship

In Suregrow’s first year of Elementary Freestyle Silver sponsorship, the UK’s leading fertiliser company were treated to a class of outstanding quality. Stealing the win by a comfortable margin was Wendy Hudson with her own 10 year old mare, Hawtins Chanel (by Curator). The duo scored 72.24% to top the podium ahead of Florence Human and Lynn Perry who completed the top three.

Victory smelled sweet for Wendy whose debut NAF Five Star Winter Championships was without a success, despite a challenging build up: “She had a week off just before we were supposed to be here, it was touch and go whether we would make it but we did and that’s the main thing! She’s not been the easiest but her personality and ability at shows is fantastic. She settles and behaves – bringing her to an occasion like this is great. She can be a bit of an introvert but she’s a very good girl.”

“I was really pleased with how in tune we were with the music today, everything happened when it should and where it should,” Wendy added about her test, “Let’s call it a safe and accurate round, but I just loved the atmosphere in there. I came out and said to my friends I don’t care what the score is, whatever happens I had the best time ever and all I want to do is go back in there and ride again!”

Finance Director and volunteer Treasurer for Newbury RDA Wendy will aim Chanel for the Petplan Equine Medium Area Festivals this season with the ultimate goal of riding in a top hat and tails o board her talented British bred mare bought from Judith Davis as a young horse.

Commendations go to Sophie Watkins, who was unfortunately interrupted by a fire alarm mid-way through her test. On board her lovely mare Inca Spirit Sophie restarted her test to score 68.33%, well done Sophie.Suregrow Elementry Freestyle Silver Championship Wendy Hudson.jpg

April 5, 2019  |   Share:

Chloe Milne Wins Suregrow Elementary Silver Freestyle at Morris Equestrian Centre

Dressage rider Chloe Milne, has qualified for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

24-year-old Chloe and Cremmdalla Crem took the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Silver Champion title on a well-deserved score of almost 72% at Morris Equestrian Centre.

Cremmdalla Crem known as Dory at home, is a 16.3hh rising 9-year-old bright bay Holsteiner. Chloe bought her as a just backed, very sharp green 4-year-old project pony with the intention to bring on and sell.

It took Chloe a year just to be able to stay on Dory’s back without her going through her manners, a lot of hard work and patience has gone into their partnership. Five years down the line and Chloe still has her project pony and wouldn’t sell her for the world. 

Chloe said: “Dory’s party trick is seeing how long she can stay on her two hind legs, she usually likes to show everyone when we are warming up for competitions!”

The duo have had many wins over the past couple of years, from BRC National Novice Champions 2017, Scottish Elementary Bronze Champion 2017, being part of the winning team at Byrd’s home International 2017 and being part of the winning team at Sheepgate Under 25 Championships in 2017 to list a few.

The pair were placed fifth at the Nationals Elementary Bronze, Elementary Open Freestyle Champion at Sheepgate 2018 and most recently double Regional Champion at Morris Equestrian Centre winning both Freestyle and the Elementary Straight class.

Based in Bonnybridge central Scotland Chloe lives on her yard, Woodchip Stables.  

Chloe has been riding since she was six-years-old and first starting competing at British Dressage when she was 18-years-old.

Chloe said: “It was the best feeling ever finding out I had won with an overall score of almost 72% with one judge awarding us an amazing 76%.

“I had never competed at regional finals before so to win both the classes is overwhelmingly fantastic. I’m so proud of how my girl went, she is not the easiest horse to train and compete but she took everything in her stride and was on her best behaviour.

“I cannot wait for Harpury.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “A very well done to Chloe and Cremdalla Crem, a brilliant result.”

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©Copyright Equiscot Photography

April 1, 2019  |   Share:

Suregrow Support Royal Windsor Horse Show

Suregrow, the leading name in fertiliser and grass seed are delighted to announce their sponsorship of the Suregrow Fertiliser Ltd Grand Prix (Senior 1.35) class at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

 

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.

 

This year will see the Royal Windsor Horse Show in the private grounds of Windsor Castle from May 8 to 12, 2019, with the Suregrow sponsored class taking place on Friday, May 10 in the Castle Arena.

 

Royal Windsor Horse Show is the UK’s largest outdoor horse show with international competitions in three different equestrian disciplines. The Grand Prix Senior 1.35m sponsored by Suregrow Fertiliser Ltd is set to be an exciting event drawing in a great line-up of competitive riders along with an eager crowd as always.

 

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Grand Prix class at this prestigious show. The event is always a superb start to the early outdoor season and we are very pleased to be supporting once again.”H2W_0555-(ZF-6968-76110-1-001).jpg

March 29, 2019  |   Share:

Debra Fews Wins Suregrow Elementary Silver Freestyle at Wellington Equestrian Centre

Veterinary Pathologist Debra Fews, has qualified for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

Debra and Fabizio took the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Silver Champion title on a fantastic score of 73.53% at Wellington Riding School.

Homebred Fabizio, known as Freddie in the stable is a stunning 18hh nine-year-old chestnut gelding. He was bred by Debra out of her mare Zadorah and is by Fidertanz.

Based in Somerset, riding has been Debra’s passion for nearly 50 years. Debra also rides Fabizio’s older but smaller sister known as Mistress Zadorabelle who is also homebred out of her mare Zadorah. Mistress Zadorabelle is a 16.3hh, 11-year-old bay mare sired by Master.

Debra said: “I am so proud of Freddie, the test at Wellington went very well for us, it was our personal best competing in this test. We are looking forward to the finals.”

 “I use Suregrow twice a year to keep our grazing in good condition. Our four acres of grass has to work hard for my three horses and three companion ponies as they all get turned out every day. Suregrow keeps my horses powered.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “Congratulations to Debra and Fabizio, what a brilliant achievement. We are proud to sponsor this series.”

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March 18, 2019  |   Share:

Chloe Milne Wins Suregrow Elementary Silver Freestyle at Morris Equestrian Centre

Dressage rider Chloe Milne, has qualified for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

24-year-old Chloe and Cremmdalla Crem took the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Silver Champion title on a well-deserved score of almost 72% at Morris Equestrian Centre.

Cremmdalla Crem known as Dory at home, is a 16.3hh rising 9-year-old bright bay Holsteiner. Chloe bought her as a just backed, very sharp green 4-year-old project pony with the intention to bring on and sell.

It took Chloe a year just to be able to stay on Dory’s back without her going through her manners, a lot of hard work and patience has gone into their partnership. Five years down the line and Chloe still has her project pony and wouldn’t sell her for the world. 

Chloe said: “Dory’s party trick is seeing how long she can stay on her two hind legs, she usually likes to show everyone when we are warming up for competitions!”

The duo have had many wins over the past couple of years, from BRC National Novice Champions 2017, Scottish Elementary Bronze Champion 2017, being part of the winning team at Byrd’s home International 2017 and being part of the winning team at Sheepgate Under 25 Championships in 2017 to list a few.

The pair were placed fifth at the Nationals Elementary Bronze, Elementary Open Freestyle Champion at Sheepgate 2018 and most recently double Regional Champion at Morris Equestrian Centre winning both Freestyle and the Elementary Straight class.

Based in Bonnybridge central Scotland Chloe lives on her yard, Woodchip Stables.  

Chloe has been riding since she was six-years-old and first starting competing at British Dressage when she was 18-years-old.

Chloe said: “It was the best feeling ever finding out I had won with an overall score of almost 72% with one judge awarding us an amazing 76%.

“I had never competed at regional finals before so to win both the classes is overwhelmingly fantastic. I’m so proud of how my girl went, she is not the easiest horse to train and compete but she took everything in her stride and was on her best behaviour.

“I cannot wait for Harpury.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “A very well done to Chloe and Cremdalla Crem, a brilliant result.”

March 15, 2019  |   Share:

Patsy Wins Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Regional Final

Dressage trainer, Patsy Bartram, has qualified her six-year-old gelding, Greenacres Cadiz, for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

Patsy and Darcy, as he is known at home, took the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Champion Gold title on an amazing score of 74.74% at Bishop Burton College.

The smart 16.1hh Warmblood x Irish black gelding excelled in his class. Darcy has been with Patsy for two and a half years, during which she broke him in.

Said Patsy: “Darcy had a fantastic day winning two classes. I felt so lucky. He performed a good test and the judges really liked his classic swing music. I am very excited for the championship.

“Darcy is a strong, powerful and accurate horse that has a very promising future ahead of him.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “We are delighted to sponsor this championship. It’s brilliant to see such a high standard of competitors, and our congratulations go to Patsy and Darcy.”

 

March 15, 2019  |   Share:

Lynn Wins Suregrow Fertiliser Regional Elementary Freestyle Silver Title

Dressage Trainer and Pilates Teacher Lynn Perry was delighted to take the Regional Champion title at Easton and Otley College in the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Music Silver class.

Lynn and Starmaker took the winner’s rosette on a score of 71.923%, to qualify for the British Dressage Winter Championships.

Based at First Choice Dressage in Suffolk, Lynn is a highly respected and fully qualified dressage coach and has been successfully training riders and horses for more than 20 years.

Starmaker, known at home as Sparky is a homebred eight-year-old, 15.3hh chestnut gelding, by Showmaker out of Lynn’s mare Little Lady.

Currently Lynn has three horses competing from Novice to Advanced medium, all homebred and home produced, and has several youngsters waiting in the wings from yearlings upwards.

Said Lynn: “I was really pleased with how well we kept to all the timings in the music that emphasised the transitions and medium paces.

“I think Sparky was a little tense as he wasn't as forward as he normally is, so I felt parts of the test could have been more expressive.

“There are things we hope to improve on for the championships but I was surprised and also elated to win and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

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March 12, 2019  |   Share:

Alice Oppenheimer Wins Suregrow Elementary Gold at Merrist Wood College and at Wellington Equestrian Centre

Professional rider and trainer Alice Oppenheimer is on a wining role and has qualifyed for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

29-year-old Alice and Headmore Dionysus took the Suregrow Fertiliser Elementary Gold Freestyle title with an impressive score of 75.25% at Merrist Wood College.

Known at home as Dillon, Headmore Dionysus is a 15.3hh British Hanoverian, liver chestnut gelding and is a rising eight year old.  He was bred by Sarah Oppenheimer and has been owned by Amanda Radford for the last four years. Alice started competing Headmore Dionysus in October 2018.

Said Alice: “I am so pleased with Dillion’s test at Merrist Wood and I am delighted to have won a sash for his owner.”

Alice also took the Suregrow Fertiliser Elementary Gold Freestyle title at Wellington Equestrian Centre with an outstanding score of 78.59% on Headmore Bella Ruby, Headmore Dionysus half-sister.

Headmore Bella Ruby, known as Bella at home is a 16.3hh liver chestnut, seven-year-old Hanoverian mare. Owned and bred by Sarah Oppenheimer at Headmore, Bella has the same mother as Dionysys called Rubinsteena.

Added Alice: “We can’t wait for the finals.”

Having starting riding as a three-year-old Alice is now a successful professional rider and trainer producing mainly home bred horses up to International GP level and has been a member of several Nation cup teams representing Great Britain.

Based in Four Marks near Alton, Hampshire Alice’s other competition rides include Dillion’s half-sister Headmore Davina and Caroline Dibden’s horse Headmore Diffinity who have all also qualified for the Winter Championships at various levels.

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “A very well done to Alice for taking home two titles from our Suregrow sponsored events both of which have been very competitive rounds. We are pleased to support such a prestigious dressage series.”Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus.jpg

March 8, 2019  |   Share:

Jayne Wins Regional Dressage Championship at Summerhouse

Jayne Chapman and Life on Mars are celebrating after qualifying for the prestigious British Dressage Winter Championships.

The pair won the Suregrow Fertiliser Winter Elementary Freestyle Regional Silver Championship at Summerhouse on a fantastic score of 71.99%

Based in Taunton, Somerset, 47-year-old Jayne has been riding all her life. Formerly a keen event rider she decided to concentrate on dressage after under-going three sessions of spinal surgery to repair damaged discs.  The intensive surgery forced her to hang up her jumping boots and call it a day.

Focussing on dressage in a bid to keep riding Jayne has had a great success at Regional and National level. She has ridden for Team South West at the Home Internationals and has discovered a real passion for the Freestyle enjoying co-ordinating all her own music and choreography.

Life on Mars, known at home as Toad is a 17.1hh, bay 12-year-old British Sports horse, owned by Jayne for the last 10 years.

One of six horses on her busy yard, five are now all concentrating on dressage from Novice to Advanced Medium level.

Said Jayne: “I was absolutely thrilled to win. I had two of my horses in the Regional Final, the other horse being Hector III.

“I was completely stunned when I saw the results! I couldn’t believe I’d pulled off first and second place earning two places at the Winter Freestyle Championships. They scored 71.98% and 70.76% there was only just over 1% separating them.

“I am really excited about the finals and will be spending the next few weeks dedicated to getting ourselves as tuned up as possible with help from my trainers Adam Kemp and Helen Griffiths.”

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow Fertiliser: “A very well done to Jayne for taking home first and second place in our Suregrow sponsored event. We are pleased to support such a prestigious dressage series.”

Toad Summerhouse 1.jpg

March 8, 2019  |   Share:

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 www.shoestringeventing.co.uk

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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.”

equiscot 4325 njo barry.jpg

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.”

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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.

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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 https://youtu.be/V8bOX95AnpE

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.

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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  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucjonkPQTmU

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGsi6UyVxYI

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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.

Ellie

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 

Dressage

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

Miscellaneous

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

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.

Dressage

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

Miscellaneous

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 www.shoestringeventing.co.uk

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:

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. 
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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 www.shoestringeventing.co.uk

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC33sjsczps

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.

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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. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGqzD6dV4zY&t=7s

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 www.shoestringeventing.co.uk

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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:

Suregrow Support the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials

SUREGROW are delighted to announce their support of the Ground Care Day and sponsorship of the 'Forest Glade' cross-country fence at this year’s SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

 

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.

Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials takes place from September 13to 16 at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Suregrow will be sponsoring the 'Forest Glade' a challenging cross country combination on the estate’s unique and undulating cross-country course.

The Suregrow team will also be supporting the new and informative Ground Care Seminar held on Thursday, September 13, at the event.

The day will include a presentation from the Sports Turf Research Institute, displays and demonstrations of ground care equipment from specialist companies, and a Q&A session with the groundsmen from Badminton, Blenheim and Burghley Horse Trials.

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are pleased to announce this new sponsorship at Blenheim International Horse Trials. It is a fantastic event that attracts the world’s best riders and thousands of spectators.

“As grass care specialists, we hope the Ground Care Day provides vital insight and knowledge on how to manage grounds and grass correctly to ensure it looks healthy all year round.”

Look out for Suregrow’s sponsored event rider Nicola Wilson, who will be competing on One Two Many.  

Suregrow products include Suregrow Fertiliser, CSM, Paddock Grass Seed Mix, Fast Grass, Meadow and Laminitics Grass Mix.
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September 4, 2018  |   Share:

Success for Nicola Wilson at Somerford Park

Well done to Nicola Wilson riding Chabadu for winning the Novice (I) at Somerford Park Farm.
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August 21, 2018  |   Share:

Mount St John

Mount St John: "Can’t believe how quickly our grass has bounced back after the dry summer since we’ve had a bit of rain & added SureGrow."

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August 17, 2018  |   Share:

Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin named for World Equestrian Games

The shortlist for the British Dressage team has been confirmed for the British World Equestrian Games (WEG). The team will travel to Tryon, North Carolina in September.

We are delighted to announce Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin have been shortlisted.

Carl Hester has been selected with his young grand prix star, his own, Anne Evans and Ann Cory’s Hawtins Delicato. This British-bred 10-year-old, by Diamond Hit, is in his first year of grand prix.

Charlotte Dujardin with Emma Blundell’s nine-year-old mare Mount St John Freestyle. The talented Fidermark mare only began her grand prix career this year but is so far unbeaten, with scores of over 80%in the grand prix special.

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Read more at https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/british-dressage-shortlist-world-equestrian-games-661052#ixE7302TiX8uifHk.99

August 10, 2018  |   Share:

Personal Best for Bublingh

Congratulations to Richard Davison and Bublingh, who performed really well at Hickstead CDI. In the Grand Prix, Bublingh achieved a personal best of 73+% to finish 2nd.

Image may contain: 1 person, riding a horse, horse and outdoor

August 7, 2018  |   Share:

Brilliant Result for Nicola Wilson

Fabulous result for Nicola Wilson and  'JL Dublin' owned by James and Jo Lambert and Deirdre Johnston, at The Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe. The pair achieved a lovely double clear to finish 8th in the British Intermediate Championships.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding horses and outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, people riding horses, horse and outdoor
Pictures courtesy of Trevor Holt

August 7, 2018  |   Share:

Win a bag of Suregrow Fertiliser

We are offering you the chance to win a bag of Fertiliser (1 bag per 1/4 acre) for this month's competition - don't miss out!

VISIT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE 

Suregrow Facebook page

 

August 7, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown July Blog

Another month has flown by and it has been a struggle with the dry hot weather. Big thanks to Suregrow as currently I still have grass for mine although even this has stopped growing, as I am writing this it is raining so fingers crossed for it to green up and grow again.

The weather has had a big impact on the eventing with the exception of one run I have pretty much stopped eventing and changed my allegiance to show jumping on surfaces. Actually the amount of effort events are going to is making some reasonable ground to run on but that doesn’t help the training at home so I haven’t done any cross country schooling or much fitness work. So until there is a significant change in weather I have severely limited my eventing entries. The one exception this month was a run at Bicton Horse Trials where Fliss did her first BE80.

I will start by reflecting on how far we have come together to get to our first BE.

In the winter my confidence was shattered. Yes I had jumped Advanced in the past but I didn't even want to canter Fliss. I spent more time crying than anything else and certainly had very little enjoyment in riding. I had supportive people around me and was honest about my struggles. Fliss was an angel very patient but as a green horse did need riding.

I took her to her first XC schooling at Pontispool in the arena in the winter and she refused point blank to get her feet wet or to follow another horse in. Eventually I managed to lead her in (in short boots and it was icy cold). We ignored XC and got our confidence together show jumping.

Finally I felt ready to tackle our first BE event. Huge thanks to the team at Bicton for producing a great event with the best ground possible considering the weather. The track was top end for the level (BE80) and certainly needed riding.

Dressage warm up was kept to 15 minutes as it was very hot and she was going sweetly until a grey pony starting working nearby, no idea why but she took fright, her head up in the air and really spooked. Luckily she settled to go in the arena and produced a nice test for her stage of training. A bit wobbly at times but great to have a judge that rewarded the good bits so marks ranged from 5.5 to 8. Very pleased that one 8 was for my riding. 

We were one of only two combinations to break the 30 mark with a 29.8 to leave us 2nd after dressage.

Show jumping was small for Fliss but I was very pleased with how she jumped so sensibly, neither treating them as insignificant nor over jumping. She didn't touch a pole and achieved a great clear round.

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Cross country was a decent track for the level with lots of questions particularly for a horse that was yet to have any sort of round cross country. 1 and 2 were decent size and she backed off and needed strong riding, however once away she really focused on the job in hand and took her fences on. The water was at 7 and although she backed off for half a stride she trotted straight in and was away. The rest of the course she jumped sensibly with a big grin on her face, we took it steadily due to ground, heat and experience and clocked up 7.2 time penalties. This was still good enough to finish 3rd which I was over the moon with. 

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Ellie meanwhile also had a success this month and even had her picture in Horse and Hound (26 July). Much as my focus is always on eventing my only mentions in Horse and Hound have been for non eventing pursuits and this time it was showing.  Touch wood there seems nothing that Ellie can’t turn her hoof to. This year she has had wins at affiliated dressage, show jumping and eventing. 

So it was time to try something new - showing! To be totally honest I have never been a big showing fan but always fancied trying Ellie in a Working Hunter Pony class. Now there has always been a major hurdle in this plan these classes are restricted to younger riders making me ineligible. However Cornwall’s biggest one day show Stithians had the class as open so we popped an entry in. The class was for 143-153 ponies as Ellie is in the lower range I didn’t expect her to be too competitive. 

It was about a week before panic set in and I realised we not only didn’t know what we were doing but didn’t have any correct gear either!! A close contact jumping saddle would not show her confirmation off that well, a Micklem bridle is evidently not correct and evidently white show jumping boots would be a no no. I don’t have a shirt and tie nor correct showing stick. 

Well the day before was spent teaching me and Ellie on the art of standing a horse up correctly and doing a good trot up. We also borrowed a cavasson bridle and some black boots. 

The course was 90cm with a variety of different rustic questions. It was quite spooky and caused a few horses stops. 11 fences on a sloping ring meant it couldn’t be taken lightly. 

I warmed Ellie up who immediately in a different bridle popped her tongue over the bit - hopped off and popped the bit up higher than I normally would have and luckily she didn’t repeat the trick. 

She jumped a super round and wasn’t affected by the spooky jumps. I think about half of the 14 jumped clear and were called back in for the showing bit. 

We were then called in in any order. Annoyingly I ended up at the end and was first to be called forward so I didn’t get to see anyone else’s show and learn what to do! Also after all my practice the previous day we walked up and trotted back under saddle for the judge so there was no stripping and running out needed. 

She did a nice show and we waited in line. Wasn’t the most settled line as a traction engine drove past the ring making a big racket. Ellie’s eyes were out on stalks but she did contain herself. 

The judge added the scores and we were delighted to be pulled in 2nd. Really pleased particularly as she is a little small for this class and not quite true to the type they are looking for. 

We went back in for the championship of the 3 Working Hunter Pony classes where we walked trotted and galloped for the judge. Have to say she gave a great gallop (best bit for Ellie) which the judge complimented us on. We ended up reserve champion which was amazing. 

A really fun day and nice to do something different. Ellie loved the experience of the crowds looking at her and being able to show off. Busy and buzzy atmosphere which didn’t faze her and can only stand her in good stead for some bigger horse trials in the future.4.jpg

We have finished the month off with a three day show at Dorset Showground show jumping. It was spoilt by the heat but horses and humans survived.

Ellie had an annoying 4 faultitis until the last class of the weekend where in a 1.05 pick your own line I really challenged her with some technical lines and angles over one of the biggest tracks she has jumped. This is obviously the way forward as she really focused and jumped amazingly to come 2nd in a very competitive class.

Fliss was a bit up and down or perhaps my riding was. She jumped a couple of super double clears in the Discovery classes but then I entered a Newcomers and the poles flew as I rode like a tentative lemon. So glad she came out the final day jumping really well, with 3rd place in the Discovery so no long term damage.

Looking ahead if the weather is kind Fliss is entered in the 90 at West Wilts which is the middle of August.  Both are booked in for lessons with Caroline Moore at Millfield which should be really interesting. Expect to hear all about it next time.

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August 3, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown in Horse & Hound

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August 3, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown June Blog

I am always keen to portray the ups and downs that go with eventing and be honest about the things that don’t go as well. However reflecting on the start of the season I have to say it has been very positive with both horses going really well and making progress. Considering over the winter my confidence was at rock bottom and I was close to giving up this has been a welcome change.

What has changed, I still work hard and train them in the same way maybe at last some of it is sinking in. I had a few amazing lessons in the spring with Austin O’Connor the Irish International Event Rider which really helped set us up for the season. I have also worked harder than ever before on my own fitness with my local fitness centre doing crossfire classes, gym work and I even completed a 5k in June. Considering since I smashed my hip a number of years ago I could barely run a step to run the full 5k was quite an achievement.

Fliss I have taken slowly, she needed time to muscle up and develop, although she is 7 now she was weak when I had her and would have suffered both mentally and physically from too much too soon.

 

Fliss is a natural jumper although getting her to and from the fences has taken more time. She has started her British Showjumping career and having registered in April in two months has completed four double clears at British Novice and four at Discovery to qualify for next year’s second rounds. She is about to start jumping 1.10m classes.

Eventing wise we hit a problem early on. We went arena eventing at Pontispool in the winter and she refused point blank to get her feet wet. She wouldn’t follow other horses in and in the end would only follow me on foot. This might have been less of a problem if it wasn’t freezing cold and I was wearing short boots. Luckily with a wet winter there was plenty of puddle training and when we visited Attington to train with Austin I lunged her in his huge water complex and then rode her in it every day of my stay. Touch wood we have now been schooling a couple of times and she has gone straight in the water. This weekend then Fliss will be doing her first BE at Bicton. Not sure what she will make of a BE80 show jumping!

 

Ellie meanwhile has gone from strength to strength this year and shown a huge improvement. At 14.2hh my project pony has now been with me for over 2 years - whoops! This season she has won several British Novice classes, completed at Discovery with double clears and had a very consistent time in her BE events. Sadly like everyone else our early season has been badly affected by the weather with several events cancelled. So by the mid-season point we have only had four runs.

In both her 90 outings she was double clear and placed 2nd at Bicton and 6th at Port Eliot. We moved back to 100 at West Wilts where two pesky time faults SJ put us out the placing but never the less delighted with another double clear. It finally all came together at Treborough.

Treborough is a lovely event with fabulous views and despite the recent dry spell the ground was pretty amazing. A quick walk of the course and I thought it was nice, a step up from West Wilts but not as consistently huge as when we came last year. Interestingly show jumping was causing a lot of problems as the time was very tight and actually in the end statistics showed only 27% went clear jumping and in time which is quite unheard of at this level.

The weather was pretty warm so I didn't overdo the warm up for dressage literally a five minute stroll to the arenas and 10 minutes work and we were in. Ellie produced a nice accurate and obedient test still dropping occasionally on her forehand but much improved from West Wilts.

We didn't know our score when we went to show jump, but we scored 28.5 which was about 6th best in our section. I know Ellie even on generous timed courses can pick up a time fault and I didn't want to hurry her and have poles instead. I tried to jump economical lines and after fence four I did a bit of a jump off turn to save time. It worked and although we rattled the last hard we finished clear jumping and clear time. Lots of pats for the clever pony.

I still, at this point didn't know my scores so managed to log into 'Eventing Scores' to see I was leading the section, I knew if I was clear inside the time, I couldn't be beaten! Now this may sound easier that it was! With the best will in the world we have never the quickest combination cross country (I do like to set up for a fence a little much) and the cross country time at Treborough was proving hard to get. With only 0.2 in hand over 2nd place I couldn't even afford a second over the time. I did work out I had 10 penalties in hand to assure ourselves of a rosette. My competitive instinct kicked in and I tried to ride as I did at West Wilts letting Ellie run and jump.

We went out over the first three in a good forward rhythm with not too much interference from me, the step up to skinny at five needed a little more control before we were away again. Then some simple fences and we came to the corner she popped that nicely and I managed to make a turn inside the 80 fences to save time to the step and brush, she made the distance here short but jumped brilliantly. The water is unusual at Treborough as the quick way involves a jump down a step, she hesitated but went and we were soon away again up the hill over the roll top and then the camera picks us up again before the influential log ditch log combination which caused some fair problems over the day. Well the only problem we had was the distances seeming short again as flew through. We headed to a double of logs on a right angle and had a slight miss on the first element but again took an economical route and flew the 2nd element, over the coal pallet fence and then to a big penultimate fence, I am afraid I did fiddle a little to this and show jumped it then pushing on for the last to come home a second under the time. We had won!!!

We were the only person to finish inside the time XC in our section, also of the three BE100 sections on the Saturday there were only six competitors, out of roughly 100 horses, that finished on their dressage score. 

We had some lovely prizes and Ellie was rewarded with her favourite treats, stud muffins. So delighted it all came together on the day in all phases and allowed us a win which lets face at BE is something to be savoured and appreciated, it is my 3rd career win in over 20 years of trying! 

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July 10, 2018  |   Share:

Meet Suregrow blogger Sarah-Jane Brown

Sarah-Jane Brown will be guiding us through her eventing season, revealing her highs and lows along the way.

Based near Lands End in Cornwall, Sarah-Jane works  full time as a Health and Safety Inspector for Cornwall Council.

Here we learn more about Sarah-Jane’s four horses.

Said Sarah-Jane: “Rising Sun Lady, known at home as Ellie, is an eight-year-old, 14.2hh chestnut mare. Bred 3/4 TB by Malmsey and a 1/4 Connie Ellie.  She was bought two years ago as a project pony with the view to bring on and sell. Ellie has been such a pleasure and so much fun that she is still here!

“Dolmen Du Concorde, known at home as Fliss, is a seven- year-old, 15.2hh Irish Sports Horse by Royal Concorde from a Ricardo Z mare. I bought Fliss last year, she was very green and needed time to develop. She is now progressing rapidly and I am very excited for her future.

“I have now retired my 19-year-old KWPN Sarnita. Sarnie helped me achieve my dreams, we competed at advanced level and was placed in a 2*, together we gained more than 100 BE points. We competed in Ireland, Portugal, Holland and France.

“Two-year-old Kensa, is Sarnie’s daughter, by TB stallion My Eclipse. I am hoping the chestnut filly will make about 16hh.”

Don’t miss Sarah-Jane’s monthly blog on the Suregrow website and social media.  

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July 10, 2018  |   Share:

William Funnell joins Hickstead Record Holders

Britain’s William Funnell joined an illustrious group of four-time winners when claiming the Al Shira’aa Derby today at Hickstead.

Riding the homebred 10-year-old Billy Buckingham, William was one of just two riders to go clear in the first round, meaning he had to jump-off for honours against Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker.

The first to go in the jump-off, William’s horse didn’t look in danger of touching a fence, although a foot in the water meant they finished with four faults in a time of 89.62sec.

It gave Holly a bit of breathing space, but she was caught out first by the black gate and then by the water as well, meaning she retired into second place.

William, 52, is the fifth rider to have four wins in the Hickstead Derby, having previously clocked up a hat-trick of victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with Cortaflex Mondriaan. He joins Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken who have all had four wins in this iconic class.

The Dorking-based rider now believes he could add to his Derby tally with Billy Buckingham. “As long as I’m fit and the horse is fit you’d like to think you could go on and win it a fifth time. It’s nice to be in the record books with those guys, and to do it this year on a homebred is special,” he said.

His horse was previously ridden by Lucy Townley, the daughter of Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. William took over the ride in 2017, and the pair finished sixth on their Derby debut last summer having hesitated at the top of the Bank and getting a time fault as well.

“We’ve done a bit of practice to make sure he’d come down the Bank. Last year I wondered if I’d wasted a clear round because they don’t come round here very often, so it’s nice to get another one and win it on a home-bred by [William’s championship horse] Billy Congo.”

 “I’d like to congratulate the Bunns on the work they’ve done in the arena, this is the best grass ring in the world with the best footing,” added William.

The Suregrow team are pleased to support such a fantastic and prestigious venue, helping to ensure the grounds and the stunning setting are looking their very best and enjoyed by all.

Hickstead director Edward Bunn: “The health and quality of the grass in the International Arena, benefits greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertilizer.”

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hickstead once again as an Official Supplier.”

“With thousands of people attending Hickstead every year we are proud to be a part of creating such well-kept, maintained and beautiful surroundings with our outstanding Suregrow product range.”

Hickstead’s next international show is the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (25-29 July).

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July 2, 2018  |   Share:

Suregrow Support The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead

Knaresborough-based Suregrow is delighted to announce their sponsorship of The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead for the 2018 season.

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.

The company is supporting Hickstead for the 2018 season which includes the prestigious Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show to provide the very best care and maintenance for the grounds and surroundings.

Hickstead, the brain child of the late Douglas Bunn was established with the intention ‘to put on the best showjumping possible anywhere in the world’. Douglas has seen a small field in the heart of rural Sussex transformed into one of the world’s leading equestrian venues. He had the creative flair to make horse sports fun for the spectator as well as offering a new challenge to the competitor, whilst maintaining an element of originality.

The family run showground attracts great numbers and has undergone £1 million worth of refurbishment works including the complete renovation of the famous International Arena since its 50th anniversary.

Almost every great show jumper, horse and rider, has competed at the leading venue since first opening their doors in 1960. Located in the heart of Sussex, the All England Jumping Course is one of the UK’s premier sporting venues.

The Suregrow team is looking forward to supporting such a fantastic and prestigious venue, helping to ensure the grounds and the stunning setting are looking their very best and enjoyed by all.

Hickstead director Edward Bunn: “The health and quality of the grass in the International Arena, benefits greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertilizer.”

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hickstead once again as an Official Supplier.”

“With thousands of people attending Hickstead every year we are proud to be a part of creating such well-kept, maintained and beautiful surroundings with our outstanding Suregrow product range.”

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July 2, 2018  |   Share:

Suregrow Sponsor The Big Screen at The Great Yorkshire Show 2018

Suregrow are proud to announce their sponsorship of The Big Screen at The Great Yorkshire Show 2018.

This year will see the iconic 160th Great Yorkshire Show take place over three days from Tuesday 10 to Thursday 12 July.

Each year more than 130,000 visitors flock to the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate to compete, socialise and celebrate. The show celebrates the very best of food, farming and rural life.

While the show has agriculture at its heart, there’s entertainment, shopping, live music, cookery demonstrations and a professional catwalk fashion show - there really is something for everyone! 

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.

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June 29, 2018  |   Share:

Suregrow sponsor the Working Hunter ring at North of England Summer Shows

Suregrow are delighted to sponsor the Working Hunter ring at North of England Summer Shows. 

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow: “We are pleased to support these great summer shows. We wish everyone the best of luck." 

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June 29, 2018  |   Share:

Showjumping Trio Join Team Suregrow

Leading show jumpers Billy Twomey, John and Robert Whitaker have joined team Suregrow – specialists in fertilisers, mineral and trace elements and grass seeds.

As top international producers as well as competitors, Billy, John and Robert, understand the importance of paddock maintenance and the benefits it has on their top horses as well as their youngstock.

Ireland’s number one ranked rider, Billy was part of the London 2012 Olympics and has since won major competitions all around the world.

Based in Yorkshire, the legendary John Whitaker MBE and son Robert are show jumping royalty.  Admired worldwide John has secured 24 medals at Olympic, World and European championships.

Robert is following in his father’s footsteps, with six European team golds medals and an individual bronze at European pony, junior and young rider championships. He has also represented his country on senior Nations Cup teams on more than 25 occasions.

Said Jonathan Cox of Suregrow: “We are very pleased to have Billy, John and Robert on the team.  They are all extremely successful, hardworking and passionate about their sport and when the opportunity arose to provide advice on paddock maintenance we were delighted to help.

“Suregrow is the tried and trusted name in grassland management and we wanted to support three top names in the show jumping world and follow their progress and success.”

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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June 18, 2018  |   Share:

Carl Hester and Richard Davison Dazzle at Bolesworth

Suregrow sponsored riders Carl Hester and Richard Davison are on winning form after taking first and second place in the grand prix freestyle to music at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.

Carl Hester concluded a memorable dressage programme at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show by being crowned grand prix freestyle to music champion.

Carl, winner of 10 major championship medals and a British dressage statesman during his illustrious career, thrilled a capacity crowd that basked in the Thursday afternoon sunshine with 10-year-old gelding Hawtins Delicato.

Their performance in the Equitop Myoplast-sponsored class showcased the rich potential of Carl's exciting ride, offering further evidence why they are likely to be Great Britain team members at the World Equestrian Games in America later this year.

A score of 76.225 per cent proved enough to edge out Richard Davison and Bubblingh - they recorded an impressive 75.875 per cent.

"He gave me a great feeling," Carl said. "I am beginning to understand him, and it is getting to know him.

"The feeling on him is incredible. He has come here and gone up a level again.

"I did the best extended trots I've done with him today, and it is such a luxury having a horse that looks like him. He is so comfortable and nice in the hand.

"I am very happy with how it is all going. He just needs to tick along."

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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June 15, 2018  |   Share:

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