FOR somebody who has never been involved in showing horses before, this summer took rather an exciting turn for Mafra Smithers.
She breeds horses for eventing and much to her surprise, discovered that one of these youngsters turned out to have quite a talent in the show ring.
“It’s been a bit of a year,” said Mafra, who has been at the ringside at different shows all season watching Stanhopes Mr Macoy in action.
“He is three years old and was bred to go eventing. But as a two-year-old he was quite big, so I asked Magnus Nicholson if he would like to show him in-hand, to give him some manners and keep him amused as a two and three-year-old. The result has been exceptional.”
This year, he was supreme champion at Bramham after winning the three-year-old Sports Horse category and also supreme at the Great Yorkshire Show in the three-year-old hunter section and at the Scottish Show and finally at the Supreme Hunter Championship show at Addington.
Also at Addington, he won the best three-year-old sired by an SHB (Sports Horse) stallion, the best young hunter, the Harry Jarrett Memorial Trophy and Free Spirit trophy awarded to the champion British-bred young horse.
“I have never shown anything in my life,” says Mafra, who lives at West Witton near Leyburn. “But he was a big lad and I wondered how he was going to develop which is why I asked Magnus to have a look at him.”
She also bred Mac’s mother, Miss Haversham, an event horse ridden by Polly Stockton.
Mac was born by embryo transplant and the mare is in foal again.
“It’s been quite a change for us,” said Mafra. “At the Great Yorkshire Show, it was slightly once in a lifetime as he did rather sweep the board.”
Now taking stock as the showing season comes to an end and Mac is back in the field at home, she says: “I’m not going to do anything in a hurry with him and if he doesn’t like eventing he can always go back to showing.”
Producer Magnus Nicholson, based near Bedale, says he was struck by the horse’s fantastic movement.
“He was a bit of a lad when we first got him as a two-year-old but he’s ended up a lovely horse to show. He loves showing off to the crowd. He’s a very bold and confident horse and he shows all the right attributes to go right to the top in any area.”
The showing success has been a bonus for Mafra and after such a good season Magnus admits they were slightly disappointed not to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show.
“He was in three Cuddy finals but we just missed out in getting there. In fact, he beat the eventual winner at Addington but that’s showing for you.”
What will be in store next year?
“He might do a couple of showing classes and then go eventing. But he could do anything,” said Magnus.
Open day aimed to help with the costs
KEEPING their horses warm and well fed this winter is going to be even more of a challenge for equine charities as prices increase.
At Hope Pastures Horse and Donkey Sanctuary in Leeds, their costs for feed and bedding treble in the winter months.
The sanctuary, in Weetwood Lane, is holding an open day tomorrow to raise funds for their winter appeal.
Visitors can meet the ponies and there will be stalls and a hobby horse gymkhana.
For directions and more information go to www.hopepastures.org or call 0113 2614 344.
THE theme of a fashion show being organised by Ackworth and District riding Club is ‘How to Look Good Dirty’ – something that is quite a challenge for most riders. The models will be from Wakefield Performing Arts and the clothes from Iron Horse Saddlery at Moss near Doncaster.
The fashion show is on October 20 at Cathedral College, Thornes Road, Wakefield from 6.30pm, tickets are £12. For more information go to www.ackworthridingclub.com.
HOW MRI scans can help to diagnose lameness in horses will be the subject of a talk by vet Peter Scholefield when the West Yorkshire branch of the BHS holds its annual meeting on October 18.
Admission is free to the meeting which is at the Black Horse Inn, Clifton (HD6 4HJ) at 7.30pm.
CALL in for a coffee and a cake this morning at Sykehouse Arena near Goole and help raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Raffle prizes will include show-jumping lessons and arena hire vouchers.
It’s time to relax at Ledston and understand how your horse learns
MANUELA McLEAN, co-founder of the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, will be at Ledston Equine Centre tomorrow and on Monday.
She will be giving lessons using the AEBC training method for which she and her husband, Dr Andrew McLean, have become well known.
She describes her approach as training horses through relaxation and helping riders to understand how a horse learns.
At the time of writing there were still two places left at the clinics. A private lesson of 45 minutes is £75 and a semi-private lesson is £50 for an hour. Spectators are welcome, the entrance fee is £10 on the door. To book, call Sally Mitchell on 07801 946775.
TOBY BELL, 14, looks to be following in the footsteps of his mother, Helen, in the eventing field. Toby, who has been doing well this season,won the autumn Charles Owen Pony three-day event at Weston Park in Shropshire. Riding his pony Strawberry Box, Toby had a score of 52.9. He had been in fourth place after the dressage, moved up to second after the cross-country and then into first place after the final show-jumping section.
This is his first season taking part in British Eventing’s Pony programme which is for riders aged between 12 and 16. The Bell family live at Breckenbrough near Thirsk.
MAKING the move from lessons in an arena to riding across country can be daunting. A riding school in Doncaster has come up with an idea to make the transition easier and safer. Grove House Stables Equestrian Centre at Misterton has introduced an outdoor course of JumpCross fences which can be knocked down,unlike the usual cross-country fences.
“The fences can be adapted for riders of different ages and abilities and are ideal for those not ready for cross country over fixed fences,” said Andrew Stennett, from the centre.