2023 has seen the first ever SEIB Search for a Star Heavy Horse in-hand competitions take place. The series is open to amateur heavy horse enthusiasts and is aimed at increasing participation and awareness of the heavy horse.
The winner of each of the five nationwide qualifiers held in spring and summer are set to head to the Search for a Star Heavy Horse in-hand finals at the increasingly popular Search for a Star championships at Your Horse Live in November. The Search for a Star heavy horse series has been set up by SEIB Insurance Brokers to help provide an opportunity for amateur owners of these often-rare breeds.
SEIB’s Marketing Manager, Nicolina MacKenzie said:
“Last year a Shire qualified for the Your Horse Live Search for a Star championships and to celebrate this success we have created a class for heavy horse breeds. We have been delighted to see Shires plus Suffolks, Clydesdales, and several continental heavy draft horses out competing in this truly amateur series this season. Roll on the Your Horse Live championship!”
The 2022 Search for a Star in-hand traditional and native champion, Lucy Parr, was instrumental in securing this new in-hand, heavy horse class for Search for a Star. She said:
“Its been great to see the different heavy horse breeds at Search for a Star this season. I came to Search for a Star last year with my Shire mare to raise the profile of heavy horses and am delighted to see amateur heavy horse enthusiasts supporting this new class.”
The series got underway at Vale View Equestrian Centre back in April 2023. Fiona Clark judged eight heavy horses in the Search for a Star in-hand qualifier at Vale View. The class offered a true spectacle with five different breeds of heavy horse represented. Shire horses were the most numerous with three in the class. Also represented were the Suffolk Punch, Percheron, Comtois and Clydesdale breeds.
Jasmin Butler and her Shire gelding, Fifield Donald took first place. Jasmin, from Nottinghamshire, said:
“I can’t believe we won! I’ve owned Ronald for the last three-years and we began showing last year. This opportunity from Search for a Star is just amazing. I’ve had other horses but always wanted a Shire and spent 2 years looking for one before getting Ronald.
He is a grade A registered Shire, the judge today said Ronald is the perfect weight which is really reassuring. He is so versatile, I ride him at home and we go on hunt rides and he schools nicely. He is six now and 18.3hh! He probably won’t get that much taller but should fill out.”
In second place were Andrea Hoskins and her Suffolk Punch, Pickworth Honesty and Percheron horse, Hales Midas and his handler, Thomas Cole took third.
The second Search for a Star heavy horse qualifier of the season was held up at Netherton Equestrian Centre near Perth in Scotland. Stephen Gowing kindly gave up his time to come along and judge the class, which was won by a Clydesdale mare.
Amanda Butler-Merchant from Aberdeen shire was delighted with her mare, nine-year-old, Rolling Thunder Maggie May. Amanda said:
“She is a homebred and has the most gorgeous paces. It is very difficult to get Clydesdale’s in foal and to keep them in foal.” Amanda at one point had four generations of Clydesdales at home. She continued: “Maggie’s dam had six foals and we hope to breed from her. She is now nine and we broke her in last year. She has been out to some ridden classes and won at the Bankory Show which qualified them for Blair. Hamish Cameron has been teaching us which helps massively. It is lovely to have this opportunity provided by Search for a Star for an amateur heavy horse class.”
A Percheron horse won the Search for a Star In-Hand Heavy Horse class at Stoneleigh. Of the four horses that came forward, judge Fiona Ford placed Rebecca Deakin’s grey Percheron, Ardencroft Alfred in first position.
“This new series for heavy horses is simply amazing, we really want to see support for it increase. There are so many heavy horse owners that are novices and with this series professional help is on-hand. All four of the horses entered at Stoneleigh had made tremendous efforts with their turnout. I judged this class at Vale View as well and two of the horses there came forward again today. It was brilliant to see they’d taken on the comments offered there and made significant improvement for today.”
Lucy Parr said:
“This is the reason we first came to Search for a Star. Amateurs can feel safe, learn and enjoy their horses while getting out and representing the breeds.” In second place at Stoneleigh was Shire, Hartcliff Revolution with Fiona Lawrenson. Helen Francis took third with Comtois, Gasper De L’Heure.
Fiona Clark judged another varied Search for a Star In-Hand Heavy Horse class at Arena UK. The winner was the four-year-old Suffolk Punch, Holbeache Scarlet owned by Andrea Hoskins and handled by stud manager, Brad Auker.
Holbeache Scarlet is one of a band of broodmares owned by Andrea Hoskins, Brad said:
“We are aiming to preserve the breed, Scarlet is in foal, she is well put together and has also won best shod prizes several times. Showing is definitely her thing! I was always interested in heavy and working horses but then was sidetracked into thoroughbreds for several years before now working as the stud manager for Andrea. Holbeache Scarlet has also won at the Royal Norfolk show and was supreme champion at Suffolk. We are now really looking forward to the championship at Your Horse Live.”
Percheron, Hales Midas and Ayesha Rockall took second place and in third was Shire mare, Snainton April Rose and Abigail Bowser.
The final Search for a Star Your Horse Live heavy horse ticket of 2023 went to Claire Hooper and Shire gelding, Caerberllan Flash Harry at Brendon Stud in West Sussex. Caerberllan Flash Harry is owned by Claire and her partner Craig Woolmer. Fiona Clark was on hand once again to judge.
“I am chuffed with him! We’ve been to a few shows in the last couple of seasons – we even did our first ridden class at our local show this June and came second. I’ve owned Harry for eighteen months and he is now a four-year-old. Before Harry, I had a Connemara but I’d always liked Shires and I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and was after a steadier type of horse, jumping is too much for me now. Harry has a lovely laid-back nature and our ultimate goal is to compete in dressage – he’s already learning leg-yielding. It takes quite a bit of time to get ready for a show – around three hours between washing and plaiting! Harry came from the Caerbellan Stud in Wales, he is by Fiefields Jack of Diamonds.”
Claire Goffin and her Clydesdale Ayton Edward took second place.
Nicolina MacKenzie added: “I’ve been looking forward to the new in-hand heavy horse Search for a Star championship and it has been great to see the range of heavy horse breeds out in force. And to hear that one of our winners wasn’t sure about coming as she and her horse weren’t good enough, this is what Search for a Star is about – helping people learn, encourage them and help them believe that they can do it. The overall feedback we have from the in-hand classes is that they are giving competitors the confidence to get out to a show and after a few goes they can step up to the ridden classes.”
Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers set up Search for a Star nearly 30 years ago so they could offer a unique competition opportunity to many of their amateur rider customers. SEIB has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many equestrian events and activities in addition to Search for a Star.
In the meantime – if you need to insure your horse, horsebox, trailer, yard or business – SEIB are here to help so please give us a call on 01708 850000 or visit seib.
For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see www.seib.co.uk/competitions.
Qualifiers for SEIB Search for a Star In-Hand Heavy Horse Your Horse Live championship 2023 by Centre
Vale View – Amateur In-Hand Heavy Horse – 1st Fifield Donald, owned and handled by Jasmin Butler from Nottinghamshire.
Netherton – Amateur In-Hand Heavy Horse – 1st Rolling Thunder Maggie May owned and handled by Amanda Butler-Merchant from Aberdeenshire
Stoneleigh – Amateur In-Hand Heavy Horse – 1st Ardencoft Alfred owned and handled by Rebecca Deakin from West Midlands
Arena UK – Amateur In-Hand Heavy Horse – 1st Holbeache Scarlet owned by Andrea Hoskins and handled by Brad Auker from Lincolnshire
Brendon Stud – Amateur In-Hand Heavy Horse – 1st Caerberllan Flash Harry owned and handled by Claire Hooper from Essex