Reigning champion holds on to his title in the Colne & The McNeil Family Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year Championship

Reigning champion holds on to his title in the Colne & The McNeil Family Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year Championship

Showing round-up Wednesday 5 October afternoon

In the Wednesday afternoon showing classes at Horse of the Year Show, the TopSpec Arena welcomed some of the show’s youngest competitors to compete in the Colne & The McNeil Family Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year Championship.

The atmosphere in the arena reached full height after the momentum from the morning’s classes continued. The first two combinations through to the championship were Shetland Lotuspoint Cassius ridden by Lilly Ahern-Lee and Welsh Section A Thistledown Special V.I.P ridden by Alice Bowling-Hartenfeld, placed first and second respectively.

Through to the Championship from the Colne Mountain & Moorland Lead Rein Pony of the Year was the Dartmoor Shilstone Rocks Thunderbird ridden by Willow West and second placed Springwater Tactician, also a Dartmoor, ridden by Finley Clay.

The four combinations were then invited back into the ring to contest the overall Championship under judge Caroline Nelson. After a tense few moments, the winner was announced as reigning champion, Shilstone Rocks Thunderbird. It is not uncommon for a champion of this class to retain the title for consecutive years, after predecessor Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart won it for four consecutive years.

Five-year-old Willow was led in the ring by handler and producer John Harvey who produces the 12-year-old Dartmoor pony known as Argo. Having been purchased from Cheryl Elcock specifically for Willow’s first pony in the summer of 2020, he has proved to be the perfect ride as mum and owner Brogan West explains: “He’s a true lead rein pony and is only really ridden by Willow or her cousin Beatrice. He really looks after her in the ring and since her first time at HOYS last year, Willow has definitely got the showing bug.”

Reserve Champion went to the Brightmores’ ever-charming coloured Shetland, Lotuspoint Cassius ridden by 10-year-old Lilly Ahern-Lee. This combination is no stranger to the spotlight having stood fourth in the National Pony Society/Baileys Horse Feeds Exmoor & Shetland Pony of the Year class at HOYS last year.

The section winners of the National Pony Society/Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain & Moorland Ridden Pony of the Year are as follows:

  • Welsh Section C winner was Lynuck The Showman ridden by Rebecca Penny, owned by Lynn Scott
  • Welsh Section D was won by Ringside Top-Dollar ridden and owned by Alex Williams.

Dreams come true in the SEIB Search For A Star

The SEIB Search for a Star series gives amateur riders, and their horses and ponies, the chance to try and qualify for HOYS and benefit from a thoroughly supportive network in the process. Today featuring the Traditional Cob of the Year and the Cob of the Year, both classes were judged on the ground by husband-and-wife team Chris Hunnable and Katie Jerram-Hunnable as well as being assessed under saddle by showing producer Jordan Cook.

During the class, Chris Hunnable who has been ride judge in previous years for this series, explained what he looks for: “The ride judge is looking for a horse that requires minimal effort from you, carries themselves well in a steady contact and has a good quality about them.”

Heading up the SEIB Search For A Star Traditional Cob of the Year class was the stand out palomino and white gelding, Hermits Golden Safari ridden and owned by Kirsty Sheath from Buckinghamshire. Kirsty, a saddler by trade, has owned the eight-year-old gelding for the last two years in which time they have enjoyed hacking, jumping and of course, showing. The pair qualified for the HOYS SEIB Search for a Star finals at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre in their second attempt having followed the judges’ advice first time round.

The SEIB Search for a Star Cob of the Year Class saw an incredibly high level of competition, with judge Katie Jerram-Hunnable commenting: “The quality of the class matched that which you would see in an open class at HOYS and everyone in the class are winners to have qualified for Horse of the Year Show.”

But there can only be one winner and it was the turn of 12-year-old skewbald gelding B Unique to step up to the podium ridden by Hannah Johnson. When asked how it feels to have won at HOYS, an emotional Hannah simply said: “I can’t believe it!” Having taken over the ride last April the pair really hit it off and have formed an incredible connection.

Hannah says: “Linda Penfold owns him now, but he did belong to a friend of hers who sadly died of cancer and so Linda promised the family she would make sure he was well looked after. A few different people tried him, but he kept coming back because he can be quite quirky – he has the biggest character on the yard. I started out just riding him for a few weeks, but that’s turned out to be two years. The first show I took him to was an SEIB qualifier at West Wilts. I had completely the wrong tack and knew nothing about showing but the judges gave us some really valuable feedback. So, we set out again and qualified at Vale View Equestrian and now we are here. I can’t believe it. He absolutely loves it when the crowd start clapping and cheering, he loves to put on a show. We are going to aim him at some county shows next season and see how we get on.”

“He’s my horse of a lifetime” winner of the Westown Stud Working Hunter of the Year Championship

Adding her name to the illustrious list of winners in the Westown Stud Working Hunter of the Year Championship, was Alice Homer riding Little Joe. The Championship has been a firm favourite at HOYS since 1951 and has seen some of the greatest show men and women take the highly coveted title.

Little Joe is not so little, standing at 17.2hh, but he showed great scope in the jumping as one of just three clears, and impeccable manners in the line-up which clearly impressed the judges.  

Speaking to Alice of her win, she commented: “I’ve had him for three years now. He actually came to me to be sold but I loved him so much that I persuaded my grandad [David Tatlow] to buy him for me. We did a bit of eventing and bought him up through novice workers and this is our second season together. He is very consistent and rarely knocks a pole. We were here last year and placed fifth and then we went champion at Royal Windsor this year as well, so to take the win at HOYS is just incredible. He’s my horse of a lifetime!” Alice owes her win to friend and trainer Libby Cook.


For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2022, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email:

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