Nominations are open for prestigious new SEIB awards

Nominations are now open for the first ever SEIB Insurance Brokers Livery Yard and Riding School of the Year Awards, which will be presented at the glamorous British Horse Foundation dinner at the Leonardo Royal London City Hotel on January 11 2020.

SEIB has set up these awards to celebrate the best in riding schools and livery yards throughout the UK in association with horse care and supplements company NAF.

SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “The riding school and livery yard awards will make Christmas extra special for those that are short-listed. SEIB know that there are livery yards and riding schools that provide an outstanding service and we want to recognise and highlight their skill and commitment.”

Nomination are open for SEIB awards

The SEIB Livery Yard and Riding School of the Year Awards have categories for best riding school, best full livery yard and best do-it-yourself (DIY) livery yard. Once the nominating process is closed, the expert panel of judges will draw up a short-list of yards which they will visit in person to decide on the winner.

All the short-listed yard proprietors will be invited to the awards dinner and the results will be announced on the night.

NAF Advertising and PR Manager, Melissa Newman said: “NAF are delighted to be in partnership with SEIB to support this award. Riding schools and livery yards are vital to keeping many peoples passion for horses a reality and a stepping stone into the world of life long equestrianism and horse ownership.

“The support, opportunities and five-star care both riding schools and livery yards provide is invaluable, as well as the friendships created at these establishments, with horses and ponies at the heart of it all.”

To nominate your favourite livery yard or riding school, go to:, saying who they are and why their livery yard or riding school is so special.

Nominations open on November 18 and will close on December 9.

Everyone placing a nomination in the SEIB Riding School and Livery Yard of the Year Awards will be put into a free prize draw to win a pair of tickets to the black tie British Horse Foundation Awards dinner in January.

Jan Rogers of the British Horse Foundation said: “We are thrilled to be able to host the presentation of the brand new SEIB Livery Yard and Riding School Awards at the 2020 British Horse Foundation Dinner.

“This event has been held at a glittering London venue for over 21 years and it is always good to welcome innovative new awards to the occasion. We look forward to showcasing these worthy winners in January.”


Hickstead’s new cross country schooling facilities swing into action

HICKSTEAD has fine new cross-country schooling facilities, which opened last month, and are available for use at  £36 per horse per hour. They are in two vast all-weather arenas connected with a surfaced track and have brought the largest facility of its kind to the South of England.

There is also a large water complex with a range of combinations jumping in, out and through the lake.

New eventing facilities were unveiled at Hickstead by top event riders Gemma Tattersall, Francis Whittington and Emily King.

The obstacles range from 80 cm to advanced and are all marked – with purple for fences up to 80cm, orange for those up to 90cm,  pink for fences up to 100cm.

Fences up to  105cm will have a yellow marker, and those over 105cm, a green marker.

Top event rider Gemma Tattersall (pictured above) in action

Opening hours are: For the remainder of November: 0800 – 1500; December: 0900 – 1500.

CLOSED December 24th 25th 26th

January: 0900 – 1500; February: 0800 – 1600; March 1st – 30th: 0800 – 1700;        March 31st: 0800 – 1800 (Clocks change) April 0800 – 1800

Andrews Bowen 2012 mix, the most scientifically researched surface, was developed specifically for the London 2012 Olympics and is used at these facilities.

The surface is proven for the full range of Olympic and Paralympic disciplines and endorsed by the FEI. The 2012 mix is a very hard wearing surface and capable of supporting the highest levels of equestrian competition indoors and out.

Hickstead has strict schooling rules for the Cross-country obstacles from 80cm to Advanced, which are all clearly marked with different coloured markers.

80 cm  – Fences up to 80cm will have a purple marker; Fences up to 90cm will have an orange marker; Fences up to 100cm will have a pink marker; Fences up to 105cm will have a Yellow marker aND ADVANCED FENCES OVER 105CM, A GREEN MARKER.

Opening hours: November: 0800 – 1500; December: 0900 – 1500;

CLOSED December 24, 25, 26;  January: 0900 – 1500;February: 0800 – 1600; March 1st – 30th: 0800 – 1700; March 31st: 0800 – 1800 (Clocks change); April 0800 – 1800.The surface

The  Andrew Bowens syrface 2012 mix is made from multi-washed silica sand, three types of polypropylene fibre and a synthetic binder, delivering a huge step forward in performance surface technology.


Riding hats that adhere to the current BE safety standards, with no fixed peak must be worn.

  • Body protectors that adhere to the current BE safety standards must be worn.
  • Failure to wear correct safety equipment will void any insurance and result in the rider being ejected from the facility.
  • Each booking is for one hour, starting at the time stated in your booking confirmation.
  • Pre-paid advanced bookings only. NO cash on the day.
  • Riders must be accompanied by an adult over 18, either on foot or mounted.
  • No dogs in the arena.
  • Dogs must be kept on leads at all times when on the showground.
  • Users must thoroughly poo pick after using the facilities, tools and skips are provided.
  • Parking is on the hard standing car park only. NO parking on the grass.
  • No mucking out lorries or trailers anywhere on site.
  • Car parks must be poo-picked.
  • Riders and their companions must co-operate with other riders sharing the facility.
  • Any bad behaviour or language towards other users or staff will not be tolerated and will result in an immediate suspension or ban.
  • Damage to fences must be reported, you will not be charged.
  • Fences must be checked before they are jumped, to check they are safe and the rider understands the obstacle.
  • Flags must be replaced when knocked out.
  • Do not jump a flagged obstacle in the wrong direction.
  • Do not jump a fence with crossed flags.
  • Do not jump a fence that is beyond your capability.
  • Hickstead Ltd reserves the right to close the facility with no notice and stop any current hire, for reasons including, (but not restricted to): Health and safety, adverse weather conditions, emergency circumstances.
  • Hickstead Ltd has taken all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of the horse and rider. It is your responsibility to take precautions to prevent accidents. Hickstead Ltd reserves the right to remove riders from the facilities. Money will not be refunded. Hickstead Ltd does not accept any liability for any loss, damage, accident, injury or illness to horses, riders or any other persons or property whatsoever. No rider will be allowed on to the course unless these terms and conditions are accepted.

Woman jailed on equine and animal welfare charges

Olveston farmer Susan Smith, 61, has been jailed this month, and banned from keeping all animals for life.  She had  been prosecuted for numerous animal welfare charges that dated back to 2015, including horses running in several herds.

Two people had already been jailed, and Smith was sentenced this month, relating to the case in which  investigators found livestock at Ingst Manor Farm in terrible conditions, surrounded by dead and dying animals.

Three of the horses were taken in by charity World Horse Welfare, which cared for them until they had been rehabilitated and were able to be sent to new and loving homes.

Susan Smith banned for keeping equines and farm animals for life. Cattle were also found dead and dying on her land. She was sent to prison this month.

Smith had arranged for Mark Downes, 51, to manage her farm in exchange for allowing him to keep his horses there. However, he neglected all the livestock, including cattle, pigs and sheep, as well as his own horses, so much that when the RSPCA arrived they found “a total animal welfare disaster”.

Downes was jailed in June 2018 for a total of 32 weeks and banned from keeping farm animals for life. Smith was sent to prison this month.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony Evans described the situation they found, saying: “The situation with the horses was that they were running in several herds, with no clear fencing down there. There was indiscriminate breeding going on and the horses were running amok all around the farm.

“As well as the various carcasses that we found on the premises, the horses hadn’t been wormed, their feet hadn’t been attended to and some of them had weight issues as well.”

A multi-agency operation took place in 2015 to remove all the animals from the site to be cared for properly, with the RSPCA, Redwings, Horse World, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare all working alongside each other. World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony described how the operation unfolded:

“On the day we went to remove them we had various charities there, including Redwings, Horse World, the RSPCA, and World Horse Welfare, so we could cope with the number of animals there. We were split up and working in our respective groups – some people were doing the equines, some were sorting out the cattle, and other people were looking after the pigs and the sheep.

“What we decided to do with the horses was to bring them in in their herds rather than try to separate them, so slowly, slowly we brought one herd in at a time. We had assistance from The Donkey Sanctuary with their lorries and were then able to transport the horses to a safe place.

“As a welfare organisation for us the best outcome would be that obviously the owners of these horses never get them back and never get to look after any other equines, so that we can take care of these horses and it doesn’t evolve once again into a large equine case.”

Five of the ponies were removed to World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset. Sadly, two of them could not be rehabilitated and they had to be put to sleep.

Thankfully, the remaining three equines flourished with World Horse Welfare’s care and went on to be happily rehomed after being successfully rehabilitated.

To see video of the rescue of the horses, click on the link below.

Video here:

British jockeys team performs well in Barbados

AN International Jockeys Challenge in Barbados this weekend saw the British team put in a fine performance, going under to Team Barbados only in the final stage.

Held at Garrison Savannah, the four-race event proved to be an extremely tight battle, decided only in the last race.

Team GB was captained by Jamie Spencer, with the remainder of the team consisting of Danny Tudhope, Luke Morris, Seamie Heffernan, Stevie Donohoe and Louis Steward.

British team captain Jamie Spencer Photo: John Simpson

Stevie Donohoe won the first race over 1570 metres, riding Provence, with Luke Morris runner-up on board Graceful. Fonohoe was thrilled to win his debut at Garrison, where he described the track as ‘much sharper than Chester’.

Jamie Spencer, on board Eyecatcher went to the front two furlongs from home in the 1100 metre second race but was passed at the post by local apprentice Eric Daniel on board Mischief Maker.

It was a very close contest and with only two races to go the two teams were level on points. Then Louis Steward brought his mount Sing Sing through to win.

Jockey Louis Steward
Photo: Jeannie Knight

This gave the British team a one-point advantage, but they were out-ridden by their opponents who were the first three past the post, with Rightontime, ridden by N’Rico Prescod winning the race.

Even so, the British team won two of the four races and Jamie Spencer praised his team, saying everyone played their parts, but the local jockeys deserved their victory.

Captain of Team Barbados, Rasheed Hughes, said his team had enjoyed competing against some of the world’s top riders. He added: ” We look forward to renewing the rivalry next year.”






Hickstead hosts top class arena polo

HICKSTEAD showground in Sussex is not only renowned for show jumping, but also hosts top class arena polo, which takes place there during winter.

The All England Polo Club was founded in 2006, and quickly became established as one of the premier Arena Polo venues in the country. It hosts tournaments throughout the winter season, including the International Arena Polo Test Match each March.

Tough competition between English player Jack Hyde (right) and Will Tankard USA in  a previous contest at Hickstead: Photo courtesy of  Russell Kirby 07711741769

USA 10-goaler Tommy Biddle, who came to Hickstead for the first time in 2014, instantly became one of Polo at Hickstead’s biggest supporters: “This is the best surface I have ever played on. Hickstead has the best arena in the world!”

Founder member Jack Kidd attributes this success to the huge surge in popularity of arena polo in recent years: “In the past ten years the science of arena polo has evolved to create the most passionate, gladiatorial, fast game that I have ever played.”

The difference between summer and winter Polo is akin to that of football and five-a-side football. Arena is played with three team members, using a larger and softer ball than traditional polo, and shots and angles can be played off the boarded sides of the arena.

It is an ideal way to bring on young horses or improve those that are too much of a handful on the bigger summer pitch.

Make sure you are in the crowd to experience one of the highlights of the global winter polo season, as England takes on an international rival in the hope of winning the Bryan Morrison Trophy.

Close action between the two teams at All England Polo Club, Hickstead Photo: Equestrian photographer John Periam 01243 584718

Head to Hickstead for an unbeatable winter day out, and enjoy a drink on the clubhouse viewing deck as you are treated to the spectacle of fierce, world-class polo action unfolding in the arena below you.

Another huge selling point of Arena is that it requires less horse power, thus eliminating the need for a large string of ponies. A club member could happily play with two ponies throughout the season, only having to rent an additional one or two for tournament days.

“The best way to understand Arena Polo is to experience it, after which players guarantee you will stop thinking of it as just a ‘winter fill in’ and grow to love it as a sport in its own right,” said a player.

For more information about Hickstead’s arena polo programme for the winter and spring seasons see




Rory is winner of Hickstead ‘s Roger Stack award

Working Hunter supremo Rory Gilsenan was the winner of this year’s Roger Stack Award at Hickstead.

An Oxfordshire-based show producer. Rory was announced as the recipient of the Roger Stack Award at Hickstead’s Showtime Ball  on  November 16.

The award is presented in honour of Hickstead’s former Showing director Roger Stack, who died in 2016, and is given in recognition of the standout showing performance of the season.

Rory was an extremely worthy winner of this year’s award, having completed the HOYS/Hickstead double by winning the Charles Owen Supreme Working Hunter title at the Longines Royal International Horse Show in July, while battling an aggressive brain tumour.

The popular Irishman had celebrated winning his first Working Hunter title at the Horse of the Year Show in October 2018, when his diagnosis came just a few weeks later. Following months of arduous chemotherapy treatment, Rory showed his tenacity by returning to the saddle in time to win the championship at Hickstead.

Following a period of remission, unfortunately the tumour returned and Rory has recently undergone another operation. Sadly, he was not well enough to attend the ball in person, but his close friend Lee Middleton from Equine America accepted the award on Rory’s behalf.

Rory Gilsenan, winner of Hickstead’s Roger Stack Award

“We cannot think of a more deserving winner of the Roger Stack Award than Rory, who spent five years working for Roger at the start of his career,” said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn. “Rory’s performance this summer with Atlantic Slim was pure perfection, especially considering how he beat the odds just to compete at Hickstead, let alone pick up one of the most coveted championship titles of all.”

Now in its fifth year, Hickstead’s annual Showtime Ball saw around 130 members of the showing community gather to celebrate the end of another successful season. Profits from the Ball are put towards improving the showing facilities at the showground, with a total of £9150 raised during the fundraising auction.

This year, a decision was made on the night to put the £2,000 proceeds from the raffle towards the #RootingforRory fund, which has been started to help Rory Gilsenan during his treatment.

Nick Gifford’s string is in fine form

Findon trainer Nick Gifford has his string in fine form at present at Downs Stables, where recent runners have been in peak condition.

Theo’s Charm, which  has always shown potential, put in an excellent performance at Lingfield . Running in the Class three handicap hurdle over two miles three furlongs, he tackled the heavy ground well.

Theo’s Charm following his good run, pictured at Downs Stables Findon with Nick and Ruth Gifford    Photo courtesy of Michael Harris

Ridden by Leighton Aspell, and owned  by Michael O’ Shea, he was carrying almost two stone more than the winner of the race. Nick Gifford said Theo’s Charm had benefited from a wind operation, enabling to finish his races well.

Nick added: ” One day soon hopefully he will get his head in front. He deserves to win as he is so honest. Head lad Andrew Tony Veale led up Theo’s Charm today and congratulations to all the connections.”

Paddys Poem with jockey James Davies following his Fakenham win    Photo: Downs Stables

Nick followed up with a fine victory, when homebred Paddy’s Poem, owned and  bred  by Mrs T Brown, won impressively at Fakenham, on his first run after a break.

Nick said:” He will improve for the experience. James Davies gave him a brilliant ride as always. His jumping got better the further he went. Congratulations to all the connections. Paddy’s Poem is ridden everyday at home by Vova and was led up by Vova too.”



Kent RDA group visits local care home

Chalkdown Riding for the Disabled Group in Staplehurst, Kent, has introduced a regular hack to their local nursing care home to visit the Abbotsleigh residents who enjoy meeting the riders and horses, to its weekly activities.

“The ride is about half a mile down a leafy country lane and along a long private driveway up to the home,” said Pauline Roestenburg, the group’s chairperson.

“At first the residents used to wave from the window each week when they saw us coming.  Now we have an arrangement where I call ahead to say the horses and riders are on their way so that some of the residents can come outside to stroke the horses and say ‘hello’, ” she added.

Abbotsleigh resident Mabel Finn from Chalkdown RDA strokes Finn Photo: Joanna Sale

Having witnessed the simple pleasure and joy that the horses can bring on their weekly visits, the group is planning to expand these activities.  Some recent sponsorship will now allow it to take a couple of the horses to other suitable nursing homes in the region over the summer next year.

RDA in the South East has 35 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with more than 2,000 riders of all ages. They are able to enjoy the experience of riding, carriage driving, show jumping, dressage endurance and western style, with opportunities to learn a new skill, enter competitions or even take a holiday.

This can bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and does much to improve a wide range of medical conditions.

RDA has the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers who regularly and cheerfully give up their free time. Its instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.

Liverpool International Horse Show will be spectacular

If you are a fan of top class show jumping, breath-taking dressage and great family entertainment, then what better way to end the year than a visit to the spectacular Liverpool International Horse Show.

The TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show returns to the M&S Bank Arena from December 28 – 31 2019.

Liverpool’s iconic equestrian spectacular features a huge line up of International horses and riders, unrivalled family entertainment alongside extensive luxury shopping, new premium food and drink outlets that will keep the champagne flowing until late!

In the arena, live music from ‘The Kings’ – featuring Mitchel Emms – The Voice finalist, will perform throughout, alongside the new exclusive act ‘Electric Storm’…a circus themed fusion of stunt horses, pyrotechnic dance show, aerial acrobats, and LED Trials bikes!

For 2019, general admission tickets can be upgraded with the NEW ‘Audience With’ sessions in the afternoon, or Champagne Reception, Coursewalk and Meet & Greet in the evening.

Celebrate the  New Year in extraordinary style with general admission, upgrade and VIP Packages available.

The tickets hotline  number is: 0344 8000 509