Sam Catton hits HOYS – Guest Blog

Read all about local shower Sam’s trip to HOYS….

On the 3rd August 2013 I made the decision not to travel the 8 hour journey to Hickstead to compete at the Royal International Horse Show with my Large Hack; Downies Mystic Maestro. Instead we made the trip to Garstang Agricultural Show near Blackpool to compete in a Horse Of The Year Show qualifier. My dreams came true that day and Maestro behaved impeccably to secure a win and then to go on to be reserve champion and, most importantly, we booked our place at HOYS.

The hard work didn’t stop there as now we had just two months to make sure that Maestro looked his best, not an easy task when the weather was forever changing – we went from lightweight rugs to heavyweight in a matter of days.

One autumnal Saturday night I received a phone call from a lady asking me if I was able to take over the reins on her two horses that had already booked their tickets for HOYS. This was such a shock – not only have I qualified my own horse but now I was being given the opportunity to ride for someone else at such a prestigious show.

On a dark cold Tuesday night in September, just a little over two weeks before HOYS, Gavin Jamieson Horse Transporter turned up at the yard and unloaded my new rides, Dabernon Omen (Welsh Section C – stable name Ollie) and Monknash Moonwalk (Coloured Non Native Pony – stable name Sally). I couldn’t believe it – I only had two weeks before I had to ride both of these beautiful horses in the Caldene Arena at HOYS and, at that moment I hadn’t even sat on either of them!

The next morning the hard work began – up at the break of dawn to ride and start building a connection with both horses. With a total of six horses to ride each day, I called in a friend to help ride those that weren’t in preparation for HOYS. Two weeks of early starts and late finishes and all seemed to be going well – the horses were working beautifully and looked amazing then, one day, I felt like my world was falling apart. One horse went lame with a suspected poisoned foot and another had developed a sore back. How could my luck change so quickly? I thought my dreams of riding at HOYS were fading away but, thanks to the help of Alnorthumbria Veterinary Practice and Equine Physiotherapist Hazel Potter, both horses were quickly fixed and the journey to HOYS was back on track.

The day arrived, Tuesday 8th October, the lorry was packed, horses bathed and ready to set off on their journey to Birmingham. Having left the yard just after lunch we made the four and a half hour journey to the NEC, Birmingham. On arriving at our destination, the vet came and checked Maestro and Ollie to make sure that all their vaccinations were up to date and that their passports were correct. After making sure that the stables were fine and putting the biggest beds down to make sure they were both comfortable, we put both horses into their stable for a well deserved rest and some tea. At 7.40pm, Ollie was tacked up and in the Caldene Arena for his first warm up. This was the first time we had been in the ring together and, although we weren’t competing, the atmosphere was still electric. Ollie was a little stage shocked to begin with but then worked amazingly well and I couldn’t have been happier with how he felt. It was then back to the stables, which seemed like a million miles away from the arenas. I put Ollie back in his stable and made sure both him and Maestro were tucked up nice and warm with plenty of haylage, food and water to last the night. It was then time to head back to the lorry for a well-earned glass of wine before the pandemonium started in the morning.

My alarm rang at 4am and it was time to get up and start preparations for my first class of the week. First on the agenda was to make sure that both horses were worked thoroughly. Due to the strict timings for warming horses up, I had to make sure I had both horses ready. Maestro attended his warm up in the International Arena at 5am where he worked well and was impeccably behaved then it was a quick change onto Ollie for his warm in at 5.50am in the Caldene Arena which was a five minute walk from the International Arena.  Ollie also worked amazingly. Both horses were then taken back to their stables for a bit of breakfast before it was time for Ollie to get ready to “strut his stuff” in front of the judge.

The time had come. Ollie was polished, sparkled and looking fabulous and my nerves were starting to get the better of me. I had never ridden this horse in the ring before, I had never ridden in a Mountain and Moorland class before and the pressure was on as someone had believed in me enough to do their horse justice at Horse Of The Year Show.  After a quick pep talk with a friend, I came to see sense and that as long as I tried my best and rode to the best of my ability then I should be proud!

Off we went into the Caldene Arena where, firstly, we walked around in front of the judges before the class was then split into two sections. We then went in to trot and then canter, showing the judges what we were made of. The section was then pulled into line up where we were then asked to perform an individual show consisting of a walk, trot, canter and extension. Ollie and I were 2nd last to go – we came out and stood before the judge, then we were off – nice big powerful canter and the most extravagant trot I’ve ever ridden across the diagonal and a beautiful gallop, it felt breath-taking and the crowd gave a massive cheer!! Now it was time to swap with the other section and go into the collecting ring where we had to take off our saddle and present Ollie for the conformation judge. Ollie stood nicely, walked away and trotted back beautifully for the judge. It was time to get back on board, go back into the ring and wait for the final placings. The atmosphere was very intense as the crowds waited patiently to see who was going to be called forward as the NPS Baileys Horse Feeds Section C of the Year…firstly they started calling out numbers and I was sat patiently waiting to see who was the lucky people to make it into the top 11 then all of a sudden I heard them call forward 708 – it was me!! I couldn’t believe it I had made it into the top 11. In reverse order they called forward for the final placings – we ended up 10th. This was the most amazing feeling ever. After finishing our lap of honour, which seemed to go in a flash, I was met outside by all my family and friends with bottles of champagne. This was as good as winning!!

But my day was not over! There was no time to party just yet, as I was riding again the next day and I had to get Maestro ready so it was back to the stables to bath and plait Maestro as our ride in wasn’t until 10.15pm. Once all the jobs were complete, it was time to do some retail therapy in the shopping mall and catch up with some friends.

Thursday morning dawned and it was Maestro’s time to shine. The hacks are a very difficult class to compete in as a bond between horse and rider is vital as the horse is also ridden by  the judge so therefore must be schooled to perfection. Maestro felt very relaxed and I was pleased with how he was going. After the initial go round, it was time for us to do our conformation first, so off came the saddle and Maestro was presented before the judge. Next it was time for the judge to ride him – this is always the part where I feel nervous as horses are unpredictable and everyone always wants their horse to go well. Thankfully Maestro gave the judge a nice ride. Now it was my turn and I didn’t let my boy down. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how Maestro went, however we didn’t make into the top places but it was an achievement to get there in its self. It was now time to have some lunch before setting off home for a day back at work and to swap horses.

Saturday morning arrived and it was Sally’s turn to make the trip down to the NEC Arena, so off we went back down the A1. Once again Sally was checked over by the vet on arrival, then it was her turn to have a trot around the Caldene Arena before her big day. She was so well behaved. Sunday morning arrived and the rain was pouring down. Sally warmed up amazingly and it was time to start getting her ready for the ring. After a extremely wet walk back to the Caldene, it was time for Sally to show us what she had. She came up trumps and pulled off a great show but, unfortunately, again we weren’t in the top placings. It was now time to head back to the lorry and head home.

I couldn’t have asked for a better week at HOYS. I can’t believe how lucky I had been to have the ride on three amazing horses and I would like to thank my mum and dad for sticking by me all these years and driving the country and back again, to my brother Lee who, as much as I hate to admit it, is the best groom ever, to Sam Banister for giving me the opportunity to ride both her horses and finally the biggest thank you to Silvermoor Haylage for your sponsorship. My horses have never looked so great with your haylage and I look forward to our 2014 season.

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September

Hello Everyone

I know there has been a long silence on here, I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch but promise we are back up and running now, we’ve missed you!
Here we are again, the harvest is all finished and we are all set for whatever winter decides to throw at us. What a wonderful summer we had and what a difference it makes. Conditions up here have been great for harvesting and we are so pleased with the haylage we’ve managed to make, it’s a world away from how we were feeling last year after the awful conditions. You can all look forward to lots of delicious haylage to treat your horses to, in fact it smells so good you will want to eat it yourself (or maybe that is just us??). There is nothing more rewarding than seeing everybody’s hard work paying off and I would like to thank the team for all of their hard work this summer.
Thank you all for coming to see us at the Highland Show and at Blair Horse Trials, we really enjoyed both and it’s always fab to hear what is going on and how well your horses and ponies are going. Remember we are on twitter and facebook and are always delighted to hear what you are up to and see any pics of your horses and ponies enjoying their silvermoor.
Now what other news do we have for you from the summer… big congratulations go to Scott, our Feed Processor, and Jade who are expecting their second child this winter. I managed to convince somebody it would be a good idea to marry me and became a Mrs in May. Ben joined the team in June, he actually grew up at Silvermoor and we are delighted to have him back as part of the team. Pop the dog has refused to get into pup, she must think the world is a good enough place with just her in it, so we are on the hunt for a teckel hound puppy if anyone knows of any please let us know.
I think that is it in a nutshell, I will be in touch soon to share more goings on. In the meantime I hope you are all really well.

Lindsay xx

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Fiona’s Blog

Hello everyone and welcome to blog issue 2, I think I had every good intention of doing this on a monthly basis however the best intentions  sometimes remain undone!
I am very happy to report that all is reasonably well on the horsey front and they all seem to still have 4 legs, although with the summer weather the youngsters feet are not as good as I would like. They all seem a little sore on the gravel which I am sure is due to the constant wet conditions we have had.
Eli and mum are very well, he has turned into a rather nice foal who moves as well as he needs to, bearing in mind that his future will hopefully be on the race track rather than show ground. Grace, his mum is not in foal this time as I seem to have fields full of horses and I need to get rid of a few rather than add to them. I am making very little effort to address this problem as I never think the time is right to sell any of them.
The 2 yearlings, Carrot and Milly are enjoying themselves doing very little in the field, I have put the 2 year old Percy with them so that he could tell them what is like to do a bit of lunging with a saddle and bridle on. He took to it like a duck to water and I hope it will make his life easier next year when he will be backed. I like to do a little bit with them at 2 especially if I think they are going to be quite big.
Ollie the 3 year old is now backed, He went up to Clive Storey in the Borders for 4 weeks as I am now too old and infirm to be doing such silly things. I have been doing a bit of work on him every day in the school and he will shortly be turned away for a couple of months.  He will come back into work in the new year to start his grown up life.
Lottie the 4 year old is also now broken and is now in training for the Gold Cup. It may take a couple of years to get her there but I am very patient, she is cantering now and enjoying herself far more than when she was at grass. She always wanted to be doing something and would stand wistfully at the gate whenever the others were working. I do not remember ever having a horse who was so keen to be part of the party.
Cassie seems to have turned over a new leaf in her competition mind and as a result has been placed in her last outings at Richmond and Hutton. I have no idea why the transformation unless the threat of Death Row has finally sunk in! Anyway long may it last or at least until Aske which will be her last event this season, after which she will do some dressage before her holiday at Christmas.
Striker is also in work and ready for the hunting season, he will do some dressage as well, for a black and white cob he does have good paces and the judges always like him.
Friday has been to a couple of local shows now and been very good, he now needs to learn to go over  and across his fences as up to now he just seems to get higher and higher which shows lots of ability but Craig may be getting altitude sickness! He will continue at local shows for the winter and hopefully start grown up eventing next year.
Will let you know how things are going soon.

Fiona

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Fiona’s blog

Hi

We’re starting something new, Fiona (Mother T to Ralph and Lindsay) is going to write a blog each month to fill you in on the going ons with her numerous horses she has managed to collect over the past few years.

We’ll use this one to introduce her and her gee-gees…over to you Mum..

Hello everybody, we thought you might be interested to know what we’re doing with our own horses at Silvermoor. First of all I’ll tell you about each one. Starting with the youngest let me introduce Eli, born before Chris Evans’ Eli (what a copier!) he is a chestnut colt by the thoroughbred stallion Lucano and is bred to win the Gold Cup but we’ll settle for a bumper at Newcastle. Born on the 28th April this year his Mum is Grace; she was quite a successful point to pointer and has three other children – Lottie, four years old, she is in the process of being broken. Lottie is very pretty but missed out on the Miracle Grow in her youth and stands at about 15.2hh. We still have high hopes that she will be the next Battleship who won the Grand National and was only 15.1hh! If anyone would like this horse I am trying to give her away to a nice racing home!!! Oh she is by Overbury (I promise she won’t take anyone’s thumb off like her Dad!).

Lottie has a younger brother, Percy who is two. He is by Kayf Tara and is another of Grace’s offspring. He’s much bigger than Lottie and we’re hoping he forges a successful career in National Hunt racing. And finally from the Grace line is Carrot, so called because of her disappointing colour however we like to compare her to carat gold rather than carrot top. She is a tall, leggy red-headed yearling by Lucano.

Carrot is never seen without her best friend and fellow yearling Silly-Billy-Millie. She’s very sweet buy an Irish sports horse and we hope will be my last homebred hunter.  Millie has a full brother, Ollie so named as he was born on the day Oliver Townend won Badminton. He is three now and has been lunged and long-reined ready to be backed in the autumn.

I also have Cassie, 16hh, 7yo, partbred warm blood, bay mare who is trying to event at the moment. Like many of you it’s been a very frustrating season. I keep Cassie at home and Craig Anderson rides her at competitions because my children tell me I’m too old to event myself and I do admit I have many broken bones. Cassie is very beautiful and moves like a dressage horse however she has a slight problem with her tongue in so much as she likes to wave it to the judges all the time. They do not see the funny side of this at all and consequently do not give her extra marks for being friendly. This is an ongoing problem, if you have any suggestions to stop it I’d be most appreciate as every trick we’ve tried so far has sadly failed.

The next is Striker who I have on loan. He doesn’t quite blend in with the flock being a black and white cob. He does have delusions of grandeur and keeps everyone else in check. He’s a great little hunter, jumps everything he’s pointed at which is just as well as I haven’t a hope of stopping him.

Finally we come to Friday (today how apt). He is co-owned with Craig Anderson, 4yo by Primitive Proposal he is just starting his competition career and is 16.2hh. He is trying to get to local shows this year as his apprenticeship and we hope to get him to BE next year.

So that’s the ‘small’ collection. Next month I will tell you if I’ve put them into the ark or we’ve managed to leave the yard. I must also say that they all love their silvermoor haylage and I am sure it wasn’t the feed that stunted Lottie’s growth!!

Fiona

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Rain rain go away!

My goodness what a wash out this summer has been so far! I know you’ll all agree with me it’s been absolutely horrendous, with events being cancelled here there and everywhere, flooding throughout and so many withdrawals due to the ground. It’s had a massive impact on us here we’re very  behind with the grass now, we have bitten the bullet today and cut our first lot today – if everyone could do a sun dance tonight we’d appreciate it!!

In the meantime we still have lots and lots of yummy haylage and don’t have any worries about running out so you can rest assured we’re here to support you all the way through the competition season.

We finally launched our first newsletter last week, sign up via our website if you’ve missed out. In it is the chance to win a pallet of haylage so it’s definitely worth it!

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Hello

Hi All
My goodness it seems to have been an age since I last blogged, sorry everyone we are still here I promise! I hope winter has been kind and you and your horses and ponies are well. It was a lot different to last years’ freezing frosts and endless snow fall wasn’t it?!
All has been going well at silvermoor, we have had a couple of changes so I’ll get you up to date with all the goings on. As the weather has been so kind we still have lots of lovely haylage in stock, you’ll all be relieved to hear we won’t be facing any shortages anytime soon.
We have been trying to push the brand further and attended BETA International last month where we met lots of fantastic people. Thank you everyone for coming to visit us and fingers crossed you will see silvermoor in lots more places across the country very soon. If you are interested in becoming a silvermoor stockist please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 01665 602587.
The eventing season is getting into full swing, this year we are delighted to be supporting Caroline Powell and Nicola Wilson; their lucky horses will be munching on silvermoor on their travels! I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing them every success for the 2012 season, good luck girls!
Sadly Matty left us earlier this year as he has returned to his family farm. He’ll be a big miss at silvermoor but has promised to keep in touch and will still be helping us out when he can. We have a new recruit stepping into his shoes, Steven, who will be out and about driving the silvermoor wagon as well as working with Seth on the grass work. Steven has lots of agricultural and equestrian experience and I know he will help us to produce the very best haylage.
I think that’s it in a nutshell. I’ve just made another resolution to blog more often, as I seem to have failed on most of the other ones I made this one I promise to keep!
Lindsay x

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Introducing Silvermoor Lite

Hi Everyone

Can you believe it’s November? I’m too hot in my autumn jumper, it certainly doesn’t feel like a November day! Sadly I think we all know one day soon it will turn typically cold and dreary and we’ll wake up to find ourselves in a winter wonderland.

We’ve been beavering away at Silvermoor getting ready for our busiest season and we’re pleased to say we feel set to go. We have an ENORMOUS pile of gorgeous haylage in front of the farm, I think spaceships would struggle to miss us it’s that big! All fantastic news as it means we are able to provide continuous supply throughout the cold spell and into the spring.

Since joining in April I’ve been over the moon to hear the brilliant feedback you’ve told me about Silvermoor, thank you. The only common concern I heard was that some people found haylage too rich for their horse/pony. We’ve worked really hard to find a solution and I am delighted to introduce (drum roll please) …Silvermoor Lite!

Silvermoor Lite is our lowest protein, lowest sugar and highest fibre haylage specifically developed to aid weight management and suit laminitics. As with Recreation and Active, Lite provides all the nutrition a horse requires from its forage, it is deliciously sweet and aromatic.

We’ve managed the rye grass that goes into Lite to make sure it meets our strict criteria. On average Lite is 62.57% fibre (Recreation is 57.62), 8.48% protein (Recreation is 10.65) and 7.6% sugar (Recreation is 11.5).

We’re so proud to offer such a different product I really believe it is exactly what has been missing from the forage market. With all products under the Silvermoor logo you can be confident we have grown all the grass ourselves and controlled every aspect of production to enable us to guarantee every pack.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of Lite! Please do email me any feedback at Lindsay@silvermoor.com and send in your pictures to be added to the Hall of Fame on Facebook!

I’ll be in touch soon,
Lindsay x

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Silvermoor news

Hi Everyone

Where is the summer going? It is absolutely flying by. Well we’ve certainly been kept out of mischief while we’ve been busy with our first cut which is all done now. The yard is jam packed with lots of lovely haylage and we really are over the moon with the quality of the grass we’ve cut. Not only have we had record breaking yields but it has all looked and smelled absolutely delicious so much so I have had a taste and can tell you it tastes great too! We’re going to have some very happy horses and ponies this coming year!! The signs for the next cut are also really positive so fingers crossed for some lovely hot and dry weather soon so we can crack on.

We had a brilliant show at the Royal Highland last month, thank you to all our customers who came along to say hello, it was lovely to meet you all and hear how happy you are with our haylage. Huge congratulations to Jenny Croft who won our prize draw for the free pallet of Silvermoor Haylage, her horses Aero, Willow and Harley are certainly in for a treat when it arrives next week. Our next stop is Blair Castle from the 18th to the 21st August, we’ll be in the Allen and Page tent again so please do call in and say hello.

We have some brilliant news for all our customers in Cumbria, Lancashire and Dumfries, WCF COUNTRY CENTRES now stock Silvermoor haylage! They have Recreation and Active hitting the stores this week which will make it even easier to pick up the best haylage on the market. It will go into all 11 WCF stores, we’re delighted to be working with such a reputable company and feel it really demonstrates the quality of our products.

We’re putting the final touches onto our new product which will be launched at the end of this season, I’m not going to give too much away just yet but can tell you it is going to be FANTASTIC and is worth getting excited about! I’ll bring you more news on this very soon…………

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback we’d love to hear from you, feel free to email me on lindsay@silvermoor.com or call me on 01665 602 587.

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Ralph’s been Shopping

I hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays and fantastic weather we’ve been having! I have to confess we’re now doing a bit of a rain dance now to boost the grass growth but the weather has been marvellous, most of the team are sporting various degrees of sunburn!

With lots of horses going out at night now this is one of our quieter times, don’t worry though it’s all still go-go-go and we’re getting ready for our first cut of grass in June. To guarantee we make even more, even better haylage than last year we’ve made a few additions to our equipment – brilliant news for all our customers!

We have a brand sparkling new Challenger Haylage Machine to process the big bales into small it looks fantastic painted in the classic Silvermoor purple. We’re really excited as it can make the packs 3 times faster than our old machine – the boys are running around trying to keep up! We’ve also bought a new forklift to stack the packs as neatly as possible.

This week we have a robot arriving!! Thankfully it’s an addition and won’t be replacing any staff (all us employees are breathing a sigh of relief), it’s a combination of conveyers and pickers which will move the bales along the production line, again speeding up processing.

We’ve a couple of human additions too, Matty joined in February and will be driving our lorry for deliveries as well as tractors in the field. Lindsay (me) joined last month, I’ll be based in the office and will be looking after queries, orders and sales (as well as being chief tea and coffee maker), I’ll also be flying the Silvermoor flag at various events over the summer and would love to meet as many people as possible so please do call in.

All this investment is definitely paying off and we’re DELIGHTED to add Countrywide Storesto our list of Silvermoor Haylage suppliers!! Those of you in the South West, South, West Midlands and Wales will be familiar with Countrywide who supply everything you could need to keep your horses in top shape and now have the fantastic Silvermoor Active in stock. With 45 stores from Exeter to Hampshire, Oxfordshire to Derby and all across Wales it marks a big expansion for us and we’re really excited to be working with such an established, successful company.

Our Sales Agents are making brilliant progress, Gill Gilson is continuing to build our East Anglia customer base she has recently introduced Silvermoor Haylage to  Su Bridge at Thetford and Marrowell Farm Services at Northampton. We’re also really pleased to be working with Jenny Fitzpatrick in the South West, Jenny received her first samples last week and I’m sure you’ll see her out and about with the purple and orange bags.

We mark a map of the UK with purple dots for each Silvermoor supplier – with this rate of expansion and increase in speed of production the map will soon be solid purple!!

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Haylage in the East Midlands

We have some fantastic news for you all, you can now get wonderful Silvermoor Recreation Haylage from The Barn Shop in Royston! These guys have a brilliant shop with the largest range of Equestrian products I’ve seen in a long time. All the best brands are in there, Pikeur, Toggi, Gersmei, Mountain Horse and loads more, all housed in over 15000 sqft of shop! And now they are complete as they have Silvermoor in stock! They have a really large car park so plenty of space to bring the lorry to stock up for the next lot of snow.

This means that if you live in parts of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, or Suffolk you can now add Silvermoor Haylage to your order. Better yet you do not even have to brave the cold wet winter weather, just get their lovely delivery driver to bring it straight to your door. This service is brilliant and means that even more people can enjoy the huge stock range at The Barn Shop in Royston, just give them a call and check on the distance.

Why not check out their website; http://www.thebarnshop.co.uk/ or give them a call on 01223 208010 to place your order. They are on our post code finder too so check out www.silvermoor.com to have a look where they are.

xx

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