Hunting Side Saddle for Charity

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William Pittendrigh an 18-year-old from Northumberland is riding side saddle in an attempt to raise money for charity. If you want to know more then get more info here.

Choosing the charity Cancer Research UK, on December 23, William will challenge himself and his horse, Alf to spend a day hunting whilst riding side saddle, something neither of them have ever done before.

William is sponsored by TopSpec and chose to raise money for the charity Cancer Research UK, as he has close experience of the heart-breaking disease, having had three family members suffer from cancer.

Determined to raise as much money as he can William said: “It is vital to help the charity Cancer Research UK find a cure for such an awful illness.”

Having never ridden side saddle before, William wanted to challenge himself as an incentive to raise money. Side saddle sees a rider sitting aside rather than astride an equine. The earliest functional side saddle was a chair like construction, where the rider sat sideways on the horse with their feet on a footrest, which was designed in the late 14th century.

Having had his first side saddle lesson with Bruce Thorpley in November, William is now well underway with mastering the art of side saddle. His horse Alf, is proving to be quite the successful side saddle participant. The duo are trying really hard and putting their all into the training as they know the many challenges of riding a day’s hunt in side saddle may bring, considering the fast-paced sport and the uneven terrain.

William is both excited and nervous about the big day but is determined to succeed at the challenge to raise some money. He has a target of £1,500 to raise and if William succeeds he will be thrilled and extremely appreciative of all the generous donations.

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. The charity is fighting cancer on all fronts such as finding new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat it to save more lives.

With more than 200 different types of cancer, one in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime. So, if you can, please donate to William’s great cause.

To donate to William’s Just Giving page visit the following link

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Gunner Wins Prestigious Connemara Ambassador Award

Long lasting relationships with our horses and ponies make for fantastic memories.

Here we talk to Rebecca Hamilton-Fletcher about the family’s amazing Connemara pony, Gunner.

At 19 years of age, Smokin Gun also known as Gunner is showing absolutely no signs of wanting to slow down as he remains as competitive and beloved as ever.

Explains Rebecca: “Gunner has had another stellar year with us in which he has continued to demonstrate his consistency and versatility across the disciplines, as well as his remarkable soundness and toughness all of which are characteristics rightly celebrated in the Connemara pony.

“This year my daughter Bethany, and Gunner have focused more on eventing and have notched up an impressive BE record for the year, despite the inconvenience of A Levels during the summer.”

The duo finished third in the BE South West U21 leagues, and fourth in the Pony Club Area Eventing League both of which boasted well in excess of 300 combinations.

Their dressage has continued to impress, and they appear to hold the ‘unofficial record’ of being the only known combination to have successfully represented their Pony Club at Area and Championship dressage across the four levels; from Juniors when they were both twelve years of age, right through to Open (Elementary) level. As a result of this great achievement they are to feature on the revamped main Pony Club website “which is quite an honour” said Rebecca.

“Bethany and Gunner have also been invaluable school team members at various NSEA National Championships, culminating with a spectacular win in the Eventers Challenge Championship at Hickstead.

The event saw Gunner jump two fabulous fast clear rounds in both the 95cm and 1.05m finals.

“They also helped their school to unexpected success at the NSEA National Show Jumping finals at Royal Windsor” said Rebecca.

The pair only managed to fit in two WHP shows this year, ending up Champions at BSPS Area 11.

As Bethany begins the next chapter of her life at University, Rebecca has dusted off her own eventing gear and taken up the competitive reins once again.

“Gunner has been as obliging as ever, and has successfully guided me back into both the BE and the BD arenas, both of which I intend to explore further with him next year.” said Rebecca.

“We attended the British Connemara Pony Society Annual Performance Awards event and Gunner won the overall best Ambassador of the Breed, which we are thrilled with, especially at his age. He was the only pony to get over 10,000 points.

“As always we feel totally blessed to have Gunner as part of our family. He has given us so much pleasure and enjoyment and the continued success is at times overwhelming and never taken for granted.

“It is clear he still loves and adores what he does, especially if it means he’s in front. Long may it last,” she added.

Gunner has been fed on a TopSpec feed regime for many years and he is fed TopSpec Senior Feed Balancer, TopChop Grass and TopSpec UlsaKind Cubes.

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Brian Walker Wins the Five-year-old MET II Final

Brian Walker won with a super ride in the 70 strong field in the Five-year-old final at MET II Olivia Nova Autumn Tour in Madrid, Spain.

Following an extremely tough course only a third made it through to the jump off.

It was clear that speed and carefulness was needed to clinch the victory which is exactly what Brian and Cellastiano pulled off winning with a time of 36.83 seconds, a second faster than Marco Antonio Merisio who claimed the runner up spot.

TopSpec-sponsored Brian bought Cellestiano as a three-year-old with the intention of using him as a breeding stallion.  His first crop of foals are already out and mostly have been awarded premium foal awards.

Said Brian: “I bought Cellestiano with the aim to breed top quality foals as his jump and technique were so superb.

“His jump is picture perfect and I knew he’d make a top hunter in the States.  He is so scopey and super careful that I have high hopes for him and he has only had one fault his entire show career.

“I am really excited about this horse’s future and he always give me his all.  The tours here at Olivia Nova are top notch and exactly what we need to be able to properly produce young horses.”

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Robert Murphy Clinches Win at Aintree Qualifier

Sixteen-year-old Robert Murphy produced an incredibly quick double clear showjumping round to win the Aintree qualifying leg of the 2017 World Class Programme Under 23 British Championships.

From a field of 50 combinations, eight produced double clear rounds over the 1.45m technical course built by David Cole, to head through to a tense jump-off.

Robert from Lancashire, who won Team Silver with the British junior team at the European Championships in Slovakia earlier this year, was on board the nine-year-old Newbridges Chablis, owned by Stacey Webb and Andy Brown.

Their first entry into the Under 23 qualifiers, the duo eased into the jump-off and produced another superb clear, stopping the clock on 38.63 seconds to top the leaderboard.

Said Team TopSpec rider Robert: “The horses are all on great form and without doubt their TopSpec feed regime keeps them fit and ready to compete at their best.”

Georgia Tame and Team Z7’s Cash Up took second place on the night, just ahead of James Whitaker and Ian Whitaker’s Glenavadra Brilliant – with just 0.06 seconds separating the two.

Tina Goosen, World Class Programme Showjumping Podium Potential Coordinator commented: “It was impressive to see such a large entry of riders competing in this class and many of them showed that they are very capable of jumping clear over this level of course.”

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Second Irish National Championship for Urbanus and Anne Marie Dunphy

It was a fantastic win to make it two years in a row for Anne Marie Dunphy and Urbanus after taking the prestigious Irish National Championship for a second year running.

Held at Cavan, The Irish National Championships brought the season to a close and

TopSpec-sponsored Anne Marie was delighted to once again take the much sought-after title home to Kilkenny.

Said Anne Marie: “It was a great honour to win the title of Irish National Champion for the second consecutive year.

“At 16-years-old Urbanus looks fantastic, is in great form and it would appear, is getting better with age, thanks to TopSpec!

“After Cavan, Urbanus had a short break and he is now back in training with the plan being to campaign him in early 2018 CDI’s.”

Anne Marie was also competing the four-year-old LEB Kings Ransom at the nationals.

By Woodlander Rockstar, he is out of Anne Marie’s mare, Her Highness Willow and was bred by embryo transfer.

“I had only been riding him for two weeks and the nationals was his first ever show, so I was not sure how he would cope in such a big atmosphere.

“He surpassed all expectations, took everything in his stride like a pro and was placed third in the HSI Potential Young Irish Bred Dressage Horse Championship scoring 72.2%.

“It was very exciting and he is certainly one to watch!”

Picture Caption: Urbanus, Irish National Champion for the second consecutive year at the Irish National Championships, ridden and owned by Anne Marie Dunphy.

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British Riding Clubs TopSpec Dressage to Music Championships 2017

The 2017 British Riding Clubs TopSpec Dressage to Music Championships 2017 took place at Bury Farm Equestrian Village.

And this year’s event had a new sponsor with TopSpec, well known for their range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feed, supporting the championships until 2019.

Said Katy Mickle of TopSpec: “We were delighted to support the BRC Dressage to Music Championships. There were some fantastic performances and it was great to see so many competitors enjoying the championships over the three days.

“We were very pleased with the event and look forward to the next two years working alongside the BRC team and sponsoring the competition in 2018 and 2019.”

The first winner of the weekend competing in the BRC TopSpec Medium / Advanced Medium ‘Pick A Test’ Dressage to Music Championship was

15-year-old Holly Cristofoli riding Watch Me V from Solent Riding Club.   Holly rode an extremely expressive Advanced Medium on her stunning16.1hh, chestnut gelding test scoring 71.75%, with music by Olly Murs.

Samantha McEwan riding Prince Nestor from Meon Riding Club lifted the BRC TopSpec Elementary Dressage to Music Championship. Scoring over 73%, with an imaginative floor plan, set to Irish themed music, which really complemented the exuberant grey, 14.1hh Connemara stallion.

Louise Samuels riding Galaxy VCG from Essendon Riding Club was thrilled to win the BRC TopSpec Novice with Points Dressage to Music Championship, Louise, a livery yard owner, went last in this class and produced a foot perfect routine to post the highest score of the weekend 75.42%. Louise has produced Galaxy a 16.2hh, bay gelding, who is just six-years-old and this was the highlight of their career so far, they are currently competing at British Dressage Novice level.

The BRC TopSpec Mixed Pairs Dressage to Music Championship was won this year by riders representing South Durham Saddle Club. Initially the pair

Caroline Tough and Trevoulter Silver Replica, and Helen Williams with Secretly Unique appeared slightly mismatched, but clearly proved through great choreography and well thought out music that the horses don’t necessarily have to be the same size and colour, as long as they work well in rhythm and harmony together.

Steph Woolley won the BRC TopSpec Novice 0 Points Dressage to Music Championship, repeating her win in this class back in 2015. Again riding Freckleton Matador from Malvern Hills Riding Club, they won with a score of 72.36%. Steph owns this lovely 17.1hh, nine-year-old chestnut, British Warmblood gelding jointly with her mum Rita. Freckleton Matador has only recently come back into work following an injury. Steph’s Dolly Parton themed music, matched perfectly with Freckleton Matador’s flowing paces.

The first of the two Junior Championship classes, the BRC TopSpec Junior Prelim Dressage to Music Championship was won by Morgan-Beth Crockford riding Crumpwell Uriel from West Oxfordshire Riding Club, with a score of 69.17%. Morgan-Beth also went on to finish fourth in the following Novice Dressage to Music class.

Ten-year-old Myles Graham riding Heavenly High Jinks (Jinks) from Swindon & District Riding Club sealed the BRC TopSpec Junior Novice Dressage to Music Championship, from first to go, they scored over 74% to win. Myles has been riding Jinks, a 13.2hh dun, New Forest, 15-year-old, gelding for 18 months, they have just started to compete in freestyle dressage and are really enjoying the experience.

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Hayley Watson-Greaves and WG Rubins Nite New National Champions

Hayley Watson-Greaves and the stunning, WG Rubins Nite put in a superb performance at this year’s Le Mieux British Dressage National Championships to win the prestigious title of National Champion.

Riding her long-term partner, the 13-year-old Rubin Royal gelding WG Rubins Nite, TopSpec-sponsored Hayley secured her first ever National title after a fantastic and confidently ridden test.

A test that in fact prompted John Bowen who was commenting that ‘there was not one foot out of place, it was beat perfect. Hayley must be thrilled – there’s definitely a competitor inside her after that performance’.

Earning a score of 78.43%, Hayley and ‘Squeaks’ as he is known, may have just been pipped to the post for the Freestyle title, however their brilliant performance in the Grand Prix gave them an average score of 76.18% – enough to win the title, a brilliant achievement for the duo.

Said Hayley after the prize giving: “I can’t quite believe it; I’m a little bit speechless

“He’s just absolutely awesome and tries his heart out every time. I love him to pieces, we have a great partnership and he’s got me where I am today.

“I know my freestyle really well and I knew the pressure was on because it was so close with the competition, but I love riding him, I just went in there to enjoy it and have fun – which is what I always do with him.”

With campaigning for the World Cup as their next step, Hayley announced that the event was the last time the pair was riding to that particular music.

Added Hayley: “I’ve got bits and pieces of my new floor plan as I’d like to make it a little bit more difficult for the World Cup competitions – although I’ve been told that it’s already quite challenging!

“I’m hoping to run through my floor plan next week and then I’ll be getting Chris Lever, who does my music, to compose it in time for the end of October, hopefully.”

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Annabella and Charlotte Take Winning Position

THIS year’s British Dressage National Championships saw two fantastic competitions in the TopSpec Medium Silver and TopSpec Medium Gold Championships.

On the Friday 12-year-old Annabella Pidgley rode a first class test to gain victory in the TopSpec Medium Silver at her first ever National Championships.

Berkshire-based Annabella, rode her German Riding Pony, Farbenfroh to impress the judges for a score of 70.51%, the sole combination to break the 70% barrier.

“It feels amazing, I’m so happy to be here let alone win,” said Annabella. “I am so shocked!”

The 14-year-old gelding, who is owned by Annabella’s mum Sarah, has developed a formidable partnership with his young rider, finishing in the top three at every outing since mid-January.  A highlight in their career so far was when Annabella and ‘Farbi’  won at the Hickstead CDI at the end of July scoring a hat-trick in the FEI Pony divisions.

Farbi first caught the eye of the Pidgley family at the Pony European Championships in Malmo, Sweden in 2015, where he was on the team for Denmark and won Freestyle Bronze. In a twist of fate, the gorgeous Farbi was acquired later by the family, when another pony they wanted had been sold. “We loved everything about him,” said Annabella.

The first of Charlotte’s three rides was her own six year old Gio, or Pumpkin as Charlotte calls him, scoring 73.38% to give his rider an early lead in the class.

The final horse of the class was Sarah Tyler-Evans’ River Rise Nisa, or Nancy, another aged just six. It was a clean test for the Negro mare who just couldn’t match the power of VIP with a score of 74.95% putting her into second.

“A good day!” said Charlotte. “VIP was really good and very easy; she’s just like clockwork. I think she was better for doing the young horse test first, it really set her up well. I love how trainable she is and how easy she finds the work.

“I’m also really pleased with Nancy. She was here last year as a five-year-old and was quite green so to come here a year on and be second in the Medium is great. She’s certainly one for the future at Grand Prix level, I think as she’s hot, but very willing.

“And dear Pumpkin Pie. He’s like my little sports car; so much fun and really easy. His medium trot is still his weakness but once we’ve mastered that, we’ll be flying.”

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Katie Aims High in the Sport of Eventing

Malton-based event rider Katie Stephens-Grandy is busy producing top quality young horses for her chosen sport, but if you are bodybuilder then find roids buy steroids.

Here she tells us about her progress and how fit and well her horses look thanks to their TopSpec feed regimes.

Katie is from a farming family based on the Wolds, where she breeds and produces her own event horses and buys in very green three and four-year olds.

Aiming to enjoy the world of eventing, she is busy focusing on producing talented young horses up to novice level. For 23 years she has been trained by well-known rider and coach, Chris McGrann and admits she is very much engrossed in his classical training beliefs.

Katie first started using TopSpec after facing problems with her horse Trendy Magic Touch, known as Smurf in the stable. He came to Katie as a very green, nervous and easily spooked four-year-old.

But thanks to help, support and patience with Chris and Katie working together to give him confidence progress was made with Smurf showing some good form at BE90 and 100 level which qualified him for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials.

Despite all the success Smurf was affected by the hectic workload, becoming worried and stressed which resulted in a number of feeding issues.

Said Katie: “Fortunately I asked for advice from TopSpec Equine Advisor, Nicola Shuttleworth who was just fantastic.  She suggested I tried Smurf on TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer and TopSpec CoolCondition Cubes or TopSpec Performance Cubes depending on his workload and stage of training.

“The change in feed was a massive influence and by the time we went to Badminton, Smurf was not only feeling very well but also looking well and we finished in the top half with a fabulous clear cross country.

“Since then he has gained much more confidence and has been consistent at competing BE100 level and British Showjumping. He is currently in first place in the Cumbrian BE100 leader board which is very exciting.

“The improvement has continues with Smurf and at Shelford Manor 2 for the BE100 Regional Final, he did a lovely test and was one of only a few double clears to finish second which successfully qualified him for the Mitsubishi Motors Club in 2018.

“TopSpec really has transformed Smurf, he is much happier, stronger and a more contented horse now with the changes to his diet.

“Our run of form also continued when Smurf won the BE100 Open Yorkshire Challenge at Frickley Park Horse Trials which was fantastic.”

Katie and Smurf will finish the season with a few more runs at Novice before he has a short break to then concentrate on training over the winter ready for Badminton 2018.

After such a positive effect thanks to the change in feeding, Katie now feeds TopSpec to her other horses. The homebred, Mr Music is on TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer, and they have successfully qualified on their first attempt for the BE90 Regional Final by winning on a 23.8 dressage and completing a double clear. They are now focussed on moving up to BE100 level.

Katie is also busy bringing on Castlesize Go Easy who she also events and is just starting her two youngsters, Belview Bobby and Cheeky Bandit who are about to start competing. Katie’s best horse, Hey Mr Sandman has been off this year but will be making a comeback next season, with the aim of competing at CIC level.


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European Team Gold and Individual Bronze for Nicola Wilson

Nicola’s ride was the lovely mare Bulana, an 11 year old KWPN by Tygo, owned by Jo and Jamie Lambert. Nicola and Bulana have been in outstanding form all year, finishing in 4th at Chatsworth in the CIC***ERM and 2ndin the mares first four-star at Luhmuhlen CCI****.

Said Nicola: “I’m still pinching myself, this is a dream.  Bulana was a superstar all week; she’s such a good friend to me and I’m honoured to ride her.”

It was a brilliant start to the dressage phase for Nicola with a personal best score with Bulana rising to the occasion. Bulana finished the dressage in seventh place with highlights of her test including a nine for shoulder-in and the counter-canter while Nicola also scored a nine for her riding.

“There’s a lot of waiting when you are last and the temptation is to overwork, but Bulana schooled beautifully on the first day so after that she was just hacked and lunged,” said Nicola.

Bulana was impressive round a technical cross-country track. “Bulana is really keen on the cross-country and can appear strong but it’s all in her head and we’ve worked at slowing things down in her mind.

“She has tons of ability but doesn’t act like a princess.  She’s getting better in every competition,” added Nicola.

Nicola and Bulana then jumped a superb clear round in the show jumping to take the Individual Bronze Medal and the best British performance helping Team GBR to win Gold.

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