Jeni hoping new addition Alfie has powers of endurance to succeed

HUDDERSFIELD champion Jeni Gilbert has added a new string to her award-winning endurance riding bow.

Jeni Gilbert riding Flurrie. Picture by LV Photography.

Gilbert, from Skelmanthorpe, enjoyed a stellar 2011 with her well-known veteran, Flurrie, who is now 18 years old.

The duo scooped both the Endurance GB Senior and Supreme Championship as well as a host of other awards.

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And now the Yorkshire ace is hoping for big things from her new recruit Ballydoolagh Alfie who will compete alongside the better-known veteran Flurrie this year.

Like Flurrie, Gilbert’s new ride is a Connemara from Ireland with that particular breed known for its athleticism, versatility and good disposition.

The breed is one not typically seen competing at endurance – a sport that tends to be dominated by Arab horses – but Gilbert’s success with Flurrie has already bucked that trend.

Now a new star is waiting to be born with Gilbert hoping that the six-year-old can start a novice season next month.

The new horse’s campaign is set to feature 10 rides throughout the season at a maximum distance of 40km, travelling from anything between 10kph and 12 kph.

But much will depend on how the new recruit takes to the demanding discipline with Gilbert knowing it could take up to three years of competition to discover if endurance is actually Ballydoolagh Alfie’s sport.

“I bought Alfie as he has good conformation, moves straight and has a good nature when handling,” said Gilbert, who is sponsored by HorseHage.

“I think it’s not so much the breed as the shape I was looking for.

“But Connemaras tend to be that build and so my choice was made. He was a little thin when he arrived and so on the advice of my sponsor, HorseHage, I am trying him on Mollichaff Condition which is an all-in-one, complete high fibre feed and helps to encourage weight gain and maintain condition.

“I was a little concerned that it might make him a bit flighty for this time of year as we have limited turnout.

“But he loves eating it and he is fairly well behaved despite everything around him being new and exciting.”

That fibre feed seems to be doing the trick with Gilbert also revealing that 2013 plans are also fluid for her veteran Flurrie as he edges ever nearer to his landmark 20th birthday.

“Flurrie is now back in work after his break and we are hoping to continue to compete this year at medium distances,” said Gilbert, who was also Supreme Champion with Flurrie in 2007 and Novice Champion back in 2002.

“But we will see how the plan goes and adjust as required,” she added.

“Fingers crossed, we are hoping for a busy year.”

For further information on feeding your horse, pony or donkey, call the HorseHage Helpline on 01803 527257 or visit www.horsehage.co.uk

The North West Yorkshire branch of the British Horse Society are holding an evening on laminitis next month.

Held on Tuesday, March 19 at Ripon City Golf Club, the event will feature talks from Paula Holt, a specialist and lecturer in human diabetes at Leeds University as well as Isabel Harker, Equine Nutritionist from Spillers Horse Feeds.

Richard Coppack, a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, will also be present with the evening beginning at 7.30pm.

The event will look into the link between laminitis and human diabetes, the condition in horses, and both the latest treatment and how to feed the laminitis-prone horse.

There will be a free goody bag handed out to everyone who attends while the evening will also feature a raffle.

Places are limited and booking early by contacting Alison Harris at [email protected] is advised.

Bus poster campaign helping to raise horse awareness

The British Horse Society is hoping that posters placed on the back of buses will help raise awareness of the plight of horses and riders on the road.

The society has recently trialled a pilot equestrian road safety advertising project in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The ‘Hit the Brakes, not my Horse’ poster was displayed in the region on the back of 10 buses for four weeks.

The Society say the project was enthusiastically welcomed by the horse-owning community in the area and that much interest has been expressed from other regions in running a similar project.

Sheila Hardy, BHS senior executive for safety, said: “The British Horse Society receives many reports each week on our dedicated safety website from horse riders who are encountering dangerous driving when riding on the roads.

“We would ask all road users to be safe and slow down for horses and riders, passing them slowly giving them plenty of room. They will be extremely grateful.”

British dressage judge Stephen Clarke has been elected as the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s dressage judge general.

Clarke was president of the ground jury at last summer’s London 2012 Olympic Games and was elected to his new post at the annual FEI five-star dressage judges seminar.

The seminar was held in Paris at the back end of January.

Clarke succeeds Holland’s Ghislain Fouarge – the first dressage judge general when the post was created in 2011.

Fouarge had decided not to stand for re-election for a second two-year term.

Hickstead has confirmed that Britain’s Nations Cup leg will go ahead thanks to a new deal and reassurances from the series’ new sponsor Longines.

There had been fears over the event with Europe’s Nations Cup shows obliged to offer prize-funds totalling £168,000, but those fears have now been allayed.

The Longines-FEI partnership is worth a nine-figure sum over 10 years.