Eventing fans - and eventing hopefuls - were glued to Twitter at nine o'clock last Wednesday evening as the chosen competitors for fifth leg of the 2017 Event Rider Masters (ERM) CIC series were announced to the world - one by one and in reverse order.
Michelle Williamson runs the White Horse Livery - & really enjoyed her first three star eventing at Barbury
It is not only the headliners and international star riders who get a unique buzz from competing at the Barbury International Horse Trials. For local rider Michelle Williamson this month's Barbury was her first ever three star competition. Did she enjoy it? You bet she did.
SUPPORTING THE EQUESTRIAN INDUSTRY: how Chapel Forge Farriers & their apprentices provide an equine podiatry service from foal to racehorse
Founder Gary Pickford using the forge at Chapel Forge Farriers' Lambourn headquarters
In Upper Lambourn there is a disused cemetery beside a former chapel which now houses two forges - inside on the upper floor is the headquarters of Chapel Forge Farriers. It is Europe's largest firm of farriers employing a team of up to 28 farriers at any one time - as well as apprentices.
Lissa Green is understandably very excited at the prospect of her debut Badminton run but you get the feeling this 28-year-old event rider is bubbly much of the time. When we met she had not long received the call from Badminton.
“Malin Head Clover (Ali G) and I will be able to tackle the most exciting course in the world......my excitement and goosebumps haven't stopped since I got 'that' phone call from the Badminton Office ….so special,” she says.
Retraining of Racehorses: the story of the stellar second career of Marlborough owned & trained racehorse Beware Chalk Pit
Beware Chalk Pit with Rebecca Court
Beware Chalk Pit was twelve years-old when he won the Supreme Champion showing title at the four-day Retraining of Racehorses National Championship Show at Aintree in August last year. He is pictured here with his rider Rebecca Court and garlanded with his awards.
The former National Hunt chaser, a bay gelding by Anshan, came out of training in January 2015. And has made a remarkable switch to the show ring - with Rebecca Court. Marlborough resident Ann Leftley still has an interest in him.
A Wiltshire Police Community Support Officer is celebrating after displaying her show jumping skills to the Queen while competing in her first ever police event at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Riding her horse Donnerbolzen, PCSO Annabel Twiddy, of the West Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team, represented Wiltshire Police,and beat off competition from 98 others to win individually.
Her individual performance put PCSO Twiddy's team into sixth place out of a total of 33 teams. "All three members of each team jumped, and then the top 12 teams went into a jump off in the afternoon where Her Majesty The Queen came to watch."
"Our team qualified, and I was put forward to jump again," she said. "I've now been invited to represent the UK Mainland forces in Guernsey in August. Our team has also qualified for the Forces Equine Championships." "It was a true honour to present Wiltshire in front of the Queen, and I am so proud to have ridden for the force. I can't wait to do it again soon."
Annabel started with Wiltshire Police as a Special Constable in May 2013 and five months later joined the control room as a dispatch assistant and 999 call handler. In January 2015, she began training as a PCSO before joining the West sector team. A keen horse rider, she represented England Under 18s in show jumping: "I have ridden since before I could walk."
"I used to compete and breed horses full time but when the recession came around, unfortunately I had to sell all my horses bar one, which took me from 13 to one."
In 2015 PCSO Twiddy found Forces Equine who organise teams and various events for serving officers. This enabled her to compete in a mixed police team, with officers from Avon and Somerset and Derbyshire.
She asked to be allowed to represent the force and wear a Wiltshire Police uniform: "Permission and uniform was granted - I had a special PCSO tunic made for me and I was issued with a hat band and badge for my riding hat." She is currently in the top three of the Forces Equine Champions League.
Greatwood Charity, near Marlborough, James Paget led in a Cheltenham Festival winner - not many get to fulfill a dream like that.Just three years after his first ever contact with a racehorse at the
The horse he looks after at Neil Mulholland's yard, The Druids Nephew, had won the Festival's Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3) with Barry Geraghty aboard.
“Before I went to Greatwood," James said, "I had never had any contact with horses, but as soon as I walked through the gates I knew that I wanted to work with horses for the rest of my life.”
James attended Greatwood’s Get Going programme during the summer of 2012. Via the Princes Trust, he came to the charity from the Amber Foundation, a residential charity that offers a fresh start to homeless unemployed young adults and helps them gain employment and accommodation.
"I was living in a hostel when I met someone that had been to the Northern Racing College (NRC) - my ears pricked up and I thought that may be something I would like to do. Also when I got talking about racing one of the members of staff at the hostel informed me that he used to be a jockey."
"Through the Princes Trust I went to Greatwood where they gave me the opportunity to apply to come to the NRC on their 12 week residential foundation course.”
After successfully completing Greatwood's Get Going programme and gaining an accredited qualification in ‘Basic Care of Horses’, James was then given a place at the NRC: “My first week was really interesting and I liked the fact that they had you doing everything from mucking out to riding within the first week. I’m not so keen on the mucking out but when I rode for the first time it makes the mucking out well worth it!"
After completing 12 weeks at the NRC, James gained more qualifications and subsequently went on to secure full time employment and now has a career within the racing industry - working for Bath based trainer, Neil Mulholland.
James is going from strength to strength and is in charge of Festival winning The Druid’s Nephew who is now vying for the most illustrious prize in National Hunt racing with an entry in the Crabbies Grand National next month.
Greatwood’s ‘Get Going’ innovative intensive educational programme develops key workplace skills for NEETS (not in employment, education or training), who may have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. Get Going is an intensive British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust (BHE&ST) accredited course and provides an introduction to careers with horses and the horse racing industry with an Entry Level 2 Award in Assisting with Basic Care of Horses
Imogen Hellawell (known to all as ‘Immy’) is based at Marcelo Tosi’s Woodland Farm stables in Marston, near Devizes, and is working for her Advanced Apprenticeship in Horse Care and Management with Haddon Training, who are based in Marlborough. Her Apprenticeship programme has been specifically tailored around a professional eventing yard.
“Throughout the programme Immy has been a dedicated learner who has shown a passion for working with horses. Immy demonstrates an extremely high level of quality in her work and a strong commitment to the care of Marcelo’s horses. Getting the opportunity to groom at WEG 2014 is incredible, knowing Immy Huggy would have been turned out beautifully.” Alex Plank, Haddon Training Assessor.
Marcelo Tosi is a Brazilian event rider. He was selected to represent Brazil at this summer’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy. Imogen went to WEG as his groom with his horse Huggy - more formally known as Eleda All Black. [Photo of Tosi & Eleda All Black copyright Nico Morgan Photography - see more at his website.]
Imogen kept a diary of her time with Team Brazil for WEG 2014:
Packing, packing, packing
We started the trip to WEG on Saturday, August 23. We spent the day packing the truck not just for our horse, but for the other two team horses as well. By the time we were finished the truck was pretty full!
On French soil We then set off at 7.00 am for the ferry in Portsmouth which was two hours away. When we were on the ferry, we did the final check on the horses (giving more hay and water) ready to leave them for the night. We arrived in Caen, France at 7.00 am. Once we left the docks we stopped to give the horses water and more hay. After a one hour drive from the docks we arrived at our base. We unloaded the horses and settled them into their stables.
Finding our feet
We spent the most of Sunday, August 24 unpacking and getting the stables organised, in the evening we took the horses out to stretch their legs. Myself and the other grooms went to discover the groom’s accommodation, which was small but very comfortable.
Hustle and bustle
Monday and Tuesday were mostly the same: the horses went for dressage training and then to graze. The venue was becoming very busy with the other teams arriving.
Let the games begin…Wednesday, August 27
Marcelo and Huggy had an arena familiarisation. This is where they could work in the warm up arena beside the main arena. In the afternoon we had the first vet inspection, so before that I spent the early part of the afternoon plaiting and making the horse look beautiful!
Thursday 28th August
In the morning we had our dressage test, so I had to plait the horse up and prepare him for the test. Our horse did a reasonable test which we were all pleased with. In the afternoon we had one other team rider doing their test, so I went to watch it with the rest of the Brazilian team.
Friday, August 29
Our last team rider did an amazing test on Friday, putting him into the top 20 after the dressage.
Saturday, August 30
Cross country day arrived with very wet ground, we were lucky to be ninth out on course!! The horse was taken for a light hack to relax him and stretch his muscles in the morning. I spent this time preparing the kit so I was ready to meet them at the finish (water buckets/ sponges/scrapers/spare shoes/grease/rugs etc.)
Then it was time to go cross country, I was full of nerves as the first horses hadn't made it home. Our horse came home finishing strongly! It was time to get him washed off and cooled down - this was a real team effort getting water on and off him.
When Huggy was cool enough we took him back to the stables to be iced and to rest. For the rest of the day I helped the other Team Brazil grooms with their horses at the finish, as they had helped me. In between I kept walking and icing my horse.
In the evening it was crazy busy as we had to get all the equipment packed up, ready to leave early for the main stadium for the show jumping the following day.
Cross country day was a real team effort as everyone helped everyone! Our Chef d'Equip made sure us grooms had what we needed from food to information about the next day, and our vet gave the best care to get the horses ready for the next day.
The Brazilian riders rode all three horses home safely, so we had a team for the next day!
Sunday, August 31
The alarm went off at 4.30am. We had to get the horses ready for an 8am trot up. My horse was a bit stiff so we took him for a long walk to loosen up. Then we did another lot of icing. I plaited him up and prepared him for the last vet inspection, we arrived half an hour early to give them a good walk. My horse trotted up very well and passed the vet inspection, as did the other two team horses!
After the trot up it was a mad rush to get the horses loaded and ready to leave for the hour drive to the main stadium. We settled the horses and organised the equipment we needed. At 12.45pm the riders had an arena familiarisation in the stadium, so that the horses could see everything before jumping with a full stadium of 22,000 spectators!!
Then it was my boy’s turn to jump his round. He had 3 poles down but we were very happy with him as he tried his heart out for us. There were only 13 clear rounds, so it was a course that caused a lot of problems.
When he finished it was a bit of an emotional moment as this will be his last eventing competition, as we are retiring him now. Everyone was very happy with the results as the team finished 8th out of 18 teams.
Monday, September 1
We arrived home Monday lunchtime, Huggy has now started his retirement in the field.
It was a successful WEG both for the team and Marcelo - and me.
Huggy has been an amazing horse for us, he has had an impressive career: winning team Bronze at the Pan AM Games 2011, competing at Burghley Horse Trials CCI 4* and Pau CCI 4*, the London 2012 Olympic Games and now a World Equestrian Games, he fully deserves his retirement!
No sooner was Immy back at the yard, than she was asked to accompany one of Tosi’s horses on its journey by air back to Brazil.
The Brazilian eventer Marcelo Tosi has been based in Britain since 2010. The 44-year-old has a degree in animal science and is a director of the Agromix Animal Feed company.
He was assistant trainer to the Brazilian team for the Athens Olympics in 2004. He then based himself in Belgium for six years. He rode for the Brazilians at the London Olympics.
In 2011 he won team bronze at the Pan Am Games in Mexico. He now trains with Nick Turner, Mark Todd and dressage rider Anna Ross-Davies.
Eleda All Black, owned by Bronwen Jones and Iain Greer, is a 17 year-old British bred gelding.