Author Archives: Penny Church

Find Out How Will Furlong is Preparing for the New Eventing Season.

2017 is alive and kicking! 2016 proved to be an extremely successful year for me and my team;
with another 3 international wins at Houghton, Hartpury and Aldon, alongside many national wins as well. I’m very excited to have been re-selected onto the World Class Podium Potential Programme – which will hopefully put me on the right track to help achieve my dreams of representing and winning medals for Team GB on the senior stage. As always with horses, things weren’t plain sailing! We had the disappointment of the YR Europeans with Livingstone II picking up a foot abscess after dressage amongst other little annoyances. Horses are great levellers – which apparently is why it’s such a special sport.

All the horses have wintered really well and have been looking amazing despite the pretty miserable recent weather. I’m not really a huge fan of ‘holidays’ for horses, so they have been kept ticking over gently whilst doing their strengthening work walking through the water at the beach. It’s important they get their ‘down-time’ in order to refresh but equally with spending all that time, effort and money into getting them into shape, it seems rather a waste to completely let them all down. They all feel great for it and we had two winners at our first outing of 2017 at Felbridge Combined Training. Annmichelle Norris’ Adele 97 has developed a huge amount over the winter with help from my physio Steph Brighton and has come out on winning form, whilst Collien P 2 has kept up her impressive form from last year! There will be many more training outings before we start on the second weekend of March at Poplar Park. It’s my first year out of Young Riders and in the ‘big-wide world’ of seniors and I’m very excited for that challenge. Many people in the past have said how hard the transition is but I believe that it’s my responsibility to try and stand out from the crowd and be noticed. Obviously I’m not aiming for Senior Europeans this year but I’m hoping to be selected to represent Great Britain within a Nations Cup squad. This will be a good stepping stone along the way to hopefully be in the selection process come Tokyo 2020. It seems an awful long away now, but it’ll come around much faster than we all think!


Turbulence in the yard…

As I am sure you all know, life in a racing yard is a little like being on a plane ride in the middle of a massive storm: large areas of turbulence which are rather stressful on the nerves, followed by brief periods of calm where you disbelievingly think things might be OK after all! No sport can push you up higher, or swoop you down lower, than the adrenaline filled one of racing, and our week was certainly one of those!

First, I must start by sending my belated condolences to all at Oliver Sherwood’s yard. There is no greater example of what I have just described, but to have such elation at such a brave and brilliant performance from the wonderful warrior Many Clouds ripped away from you so quickly can only be truly devastating. Everyone who loves horses and racing would have shed more than just one tear, and he is a horse that will live on in the memories of so many. I know we all got plenty of hugs that night.

At the yard, we haven’t had anything as gut wrenching, but it’s still been turbulent. Mr Mole and The Doorman went off to Sedgefield last Sunday, where we had all our fingers, toes and eyes crossed that hunting might have worked the oracle on the ever frustrating Mr Mole. His warm – up routine involved listening to recordings of the hunting horn on the phone, which he thought was great, though Door’s eyes rather popped out of his head! Anyway, they jumped off and for just over 2 miles we had the amazing sensation that it might actually have done the trick. The Mole bounded off in front, jumping brilliantly well and really looking happy with himself again. We were over the moon to see some of his former glory shining through and Richie said he gave him a real thrill. However, this is the Mole, and nothing can ever be simple. In heavy ground, he got very tired going three furlongs further than he is used to, and decided to lie down after crumbling at the last, scaring the daylights out of Ben, Alice and Andy. Being Mole, he was, I am delighted to report, absolutely fine and came swinging back into the yard happy as larry. He went back out hunting with the Bedale today (right), and was certainly none the worse for wear! The hunting does, however, seem to be doing the trick and he will have another go on the track once the ground is a little better. Personally I think he just likes the fact that for some reason, the hunting community of North Yorkshire give him endless compliments to fill his already inflated ego!

Door (left) was up next, and proved himself once again as honest as the Mole is tricky! He ran an absolute belter for us once more, jumping brilliantly. A hold up horse, it was tricky for him to make up the ground in that mud, but boy did he try, straining every muscle up the hill to try and catch the leader. Another half furlong and he would have got him, but 2nd again it was for him and his partner in crime Richie McLernon! He has been desperately unlucky in January with two 2nds and a 3rd to his name, and he really deserves a win as he puts his absolute all into it. He is gaining in confidence all the time, and there is plenty more fun to be had with him.

Yesterday, the lorry undertook the marathon trip to Kempton, where we were hopeful that we would be rewarded for the mileage. These hopes were quickly dashed in the first, when the quirky Wibble (Man Of La Mancha) pretended he had never seen a racecourse and never got into the race. The only good news is that when a run is as bad as that, there is normally something amiss, so we will be doing a thorough check of him now to try and find what it is. It was a real shame, as he has shown huge improvements at home – but we hit turbulence this time around!

All eyes were now on Bertie (Skellig Michael) (right) to try and redeem our decision to go a mere 245 miles down the motorway. Bertie is fortunate to be owned by a group of wonderful, entertaining and importantly patient owners in the shape of James Pak, Lynn Douglas, Gary Walker and Nickie Wellingham, and he given them some really fun days out, along with some rather less fun ones when he has been overly distracted by his surroundings! However, the cheek pieces and the might of Adam Kirby were employed last night, and from the moment Bertie jumped out the stalls he found his mind being rather made up for him! He got a nice tow in the race by the leader, and when Adam switched him in the last half furlong he started to engage his motor, creeping painfully upsides before finally clinching a thrilling victory by 3/4 of a length! He was yelled and screamed home by all involved, and was extremely chuffed with himself in the parade ring afterwards. Indeed, I am regretting being in the stable opposite as he still hasn’t stopped telling me how wonderful he is! It was a particularly momentous occasion, as it provided James with a first ever winner in his own colours, which is a really special memory, and something the whole yard was delighted to be able to provide him with. It is also a relief to get off the mark for 2017, end the week in a calm patch, and hopefully it is only onwards and upwards from here!

Until next time,


Happy New Year, from Annie Joppe.

I am just surfacing after a Christmas lock down of no work, no phones, emails, Facebook etc.!  However, becoming a communications hermit is not always a good idea as when technology catches up with you again, there is a backlog and, oh no! Not another party invite!!

Now is the time to look back on last year, capitalise on successes and learn from mistakes.  Well dilmun-at-keysoe-2016-002what a year it has been!  Each horse has had a 100% completion rate; they are truly amazing athletes and it is humbling to think how much they give of themselves to achieve my ambitions.  Even Wizard completed his one and only ride successfully and made a dressage appearance.  Dilmun put so much effort into his season winning the 50kms ride in Dorset, being best Brit in the 1* class at Euston Park and successfully completing the 1* at Keysoe – not bad for an older boy!  Chiara has had an awesome first season successfully and easily completing all her FEI novice qualifying rides and upgrading from Novice through to Advanced.  The distances she has completed have been no problem for her at all and at each competition she has fant-finishing-kings-003finished looking for more.  Lastly Fantom: well he has certainly excelled himself.  Okay, only two competitions: 64kms in Dorset achieving his usual grade 1 and coming 2nd at a good speed in the CEI 3* at King’s Forest in Norfolk back in July which qualifies us for the European Championships in Brussels this year!

All this should put us in good stead for this season.  There is work to be done and aspects to improve on but also a lot to emulate, especially in Fantom’s preparation for, hopefully, the Championship ride of his life (obviously, we need to get selected first and we need our share of luck).  I hope EGB will take a leaf out of the great Yogi Breisner’s book and make the selection for the Euro squad 2017 early, rather than later as he said “I wanted selected riders to be able to plan their season with the championship in mind and peak then, rather than having to peak to get selected”.

There are several things to work on with Chiara this winter.   She has now come back into work.  Walking work with Chiara is chi-at-colquite-2016-002a joy and every time I ride her I smile and it is always very, very interesting!  Normally, Chi walks faster than the speed of light on a loose rein with her head up and alert.  However, we have achieved a few strides now of actually lowering her head and taking slower strides. When I say lowering her head, I mean to the height a normal horse would have it in walk out on a hack but it’s a distinct improvement.  Chiara has now completed about three weeks of walking and, after approximately 8 weeks off doing very little, this amount of walking is probably sufficient and we have now introduced a little trot work and schooling. It is fairly slow progress in the school with the focus being on calmness and rhythm and lots and lots of walk, trot, walk transitions.  Work has also begun on a little leg yielding on a circle which is useful to gain her somewhat wayward attention.

Well, another attempt at dressage with the ancient Wizard and this time far from successful.  filming-with-spotlight-002Wizard was (and is) on a mission to cover the ground with enormous strides as fast as possible and walk is a gait he has conveniently forgotten!  To say I was a passenger, was an understatement although this time we went approximately in the right direction at the right time!

At the beginning of December I had decided to work on my own fitness whilst I only had two horses in work and there was that little, teeny weeny bit of time left in the day for this mission.  To this end I embarked on a five week fitness programme comprising some really fiendish exercises designed specifically for horse riders AS WELL AS running each day.

Now to decide; should you ride first, do the exercises, ride again and then run last?  No, that can’t be right, by the end of the day my legs were on fire trying to run up the hills, indeed trying to run at all!  OK, so what if I run first?  Well, by the time I had ridden both horses and put in a few hours at my desk, the idea of doing exercises was not appealing at all!  What to do?  I eventually decided to mix it up a bit, trying to intersperse these periods of intense exercise with sitting behind my desk so that my poor legs could recover a bit.  Why did I allow myself to get into this sad state and now have to suffer the punishment?

warming-up-003I am not really physically designed to be a runner and not now in my first flush of youth (second flush of youth though!) but I reckon that this is the best way for me to get my cardio vascular exercise which is absolutely essential to prepare myself for the ambitious 2017 season I’ve planned. I also feel that this form of exercise gives me an insight into how the horses feel at a competition. I am not a great road runner and prefer to run off road over rough and varied terrain. However, I have learned from running how important it is to avoid injury by warming up the legs properly before tackling any of the rough ‘tracks from hell’ around here and this has translated into the horses’ preparation.

In a week’s time, I am off for the annual skiing holiday; two weeks this time so early preparation of the horses will be delayed a little but detailed plans for this season are still somewhat vague and nothing momentous is planned for the early season so this little extra horses’ holiday shouldn’t be a problem.

Happy New Year and thanks to my wonderful sponsors Feedmark who have helped me so much in 2016. With a team like that, it’s no wonder my horses performed so well in optimum condition!

Dance the Racehorse Gives us a Christmas Update!


Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas?! I haven’t even started my present shopping yet, though I am considering not buying Ben anything as he keeps not turning me out on account of the ‘mud’ – unbelievable! We have been getting in the Festive mood here, with the yard Christmas party last week (I don’t have to buy Alice a present either actually, as she wouldn’t let me go!) Apparently a super evening was had by owners and staff alike at The Saddle Rooms, and judging by a few of the faces around here on Sunday, there were some well deserved sore heads. Serves them all right!

We were so hoping for an early Christmas present from George dec-2016-1(Epeius) (left) at Southwell, but sadly it wasn’t quite to be. Drawn right on the outside, it was the draw that beat him (especially as the fatty still seems unable to go round a corner) and he was just denied by a head and a neck to finish 3rd. The poor boy so deserves a win, and one cannot knock his consistency for the Trojan Horse Partnership. It is only a matter of time for him, and as Lynn and Gary said, there will be a big party when he finally gets his head in front!

The yearlings are absolutely flying, and we have added two more to the ranks in the shape of a couple of Sayif fillies from Llety Farms. The colts are loving their racing regime, and are now doing the same work the jumpers are doing, up the grass gallop dec-2016-2and around the Moor – not that it seems to tire them out even a tiny bit! I am having the time of my life leading them around the Moor, but am slightly annoyed that this lot seem to be able to keep up with me – that is quite unusual at this point of their careers! The Dandy Man (right) looks particularly sharp, and it is hard to remember he is a baby at times. Ben also seems very taken with the Lord Shanakill (below left), who is already taller than me but finding his work effortless, which is impressive for a big horse. The Camacho is also a lovely colt, and I am looking forward to taking them along even faster in the New Year.

The fillies are doing really well, going round the Moor as well which does them so much good. They tend to be left in the hands of a more ‘responsible’ lead horse (ahem!), but from what I’ve seen they wouldn’t struggle at my pace either! The Showcasing looks an absolute doll of a filly, dec-2016-3and she really loves her work. She is exquisitely behaved, which seems a real trait of the sire, and if she keeps going in the same direction will be a nice early type. The Champs Elysee, like the Lord Shanakill, is a big filly, but is handling it all with aplomb and looks a nice type for the future. The two Sayif fillies have just been backed last week, but are already going up the three furlong canter with lots of enthusiasm. Plenty to look forward to at the moment anyway!

Christmas day will be, as ever, a relatively normal day here with the added benefit of Mince pies, as we have The Doorman (below) running on Boxing Day at Wetherby. His confidence is coming back to him after a fairly awful run of things in Ireland, and hopefully the race this time will be run more to suit him than his latest outing at Doncaster, where they crawled before sprinting the last couple of furlongs – I can assure you that big black beast is NOT a sprinter! He is on very good form at home, and wouldn’t it be nice if he could give us something to cheer about at Christmas time.

The famously frustrating Mr Mole will be appearing the next day, also at Wetherby. He has so dec-2016-4much enthusiasm for the game at home still, and we have been tweaking things around with him, so hopefully we will see a glimmer of what we know he is capable of. Megan Nicholls, who knows him better than anyone, came and sat on him for us the other day, and was very pleased with how he felt, so fingers crossed we are getting there with this rather enigmatic lad. I am always very glad I don’t have any lots with him, as he takes two strides to every one of mine – I keep telling him unless he pulls his act together, I’ll be borrowing his engine from him for my next outing!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and get all the grass and carrots you could want!

Until next time,


Horses Of The Week – Farmer and Grey Boy.

farmer-12This is ‘Cumbrian Farmer’, a nine-year-old Thoroughbred and has been owned by Shona Murdoch since May 2016. Shona explains: “Farmer was last raced on 28th April 2016, and was a National Hunt horse. But now, he regularly competes in unaffiliated show jumping, dressage and arena eventing, for farmer-2all of which he then accumulates points towards the RoR regional leagues which are run by Retraining of Racehorses. He also competed at the RoR National Championships at Aintree in August, where he did some farmer-16lovely rounds, got lots of rosettes and everyone took a shine to him!”

“Farmer ran 25 times before coming to me in May this year. Farmer and I will do more dressage over winter and start competing in affiliated British Showjumping for thefarmer-7 miles, in the view of doing affiliated British Eventing next year. He is one brave lad so cross country is no problem to him! He will also be going back to Aintree for the RoR National Champs in August next farmer-13year.”

“Farmer is a large, big boned Thoroughbred and stands at 16.3hh, he is very long and difficult to manoeuvre. He was very rigid through his neck, shoulders and back when I got him. With the use of farmer-1 Feedmark’s ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips, he moves well from behind and has the most amazing trot you could wish for, he just needed it unleashing!”

“My other horse is Grey Boy, who’s registered name is ‘I’m Your Man’! He is an 18-year-old Thoroughbred who stands at 16.1hh, and was grey-boy-12a National Hunt horse. I’ve owned him since 2011, and he competes in Showing, dressage and hacking. Grey Boy used to love hunting, hunter trials, show  grey-boy-7jumping and pony club but age and injuries caught up with him and got in the way of things!”

“He recently won an ex racehorse class at a local show though, so the boy has still got it! Grey Boy won, and was Reserve Champion at Penrith grey-boy-17Show in 2014, where he qualified to go to Blair Horse Trials for the champs. He then came 6th in the UK! He has also completed countless Endurance GB pleasure rides and loved it! Grey Boy was bred, owned and trained by the Slack family, he ran 72 times winning nearly grey-boy-5£24,000 in his career. He was a firm favourite at Stoneriggs with his trainer often riding him out.”

“Grey Boy will be competing in dressage over the winter. He grey-boy-18loves cross country, but with so many injuries over the last 18 months he hasn’t done anything but hacking or flatwork. My dream is to take him cross country one more time, just to see him so happy in what he loves grey-boy-9doing! He will be out doing the round at the local shows next season too, and will be at the RoR National Champs at Aintree in August.”

“Before I started Grey on ExtraFlex HA with grey-boy-16Rosehips last year he would struggle to walk up or down the field in a morning, especially in the cold. But since he has been on ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips, his hocks have stopped clicking, he is freer in his back end and he has a new lease of life too, he is like a two-year-old sometimes!”

Horse Of The Week – Darwin.

darwin-3This is Darwin, our new Horse Of The Week. He is a 12-year-old Irish Draft cross Thoroughbred standing at 16.1hh. Zoe Linington has owned him for 3 years, and explains: “Darwin is a true all-rounder, we do a bit of dressage up to novice level, jumping, Trec, horse agility, hacking, and pleasure rides. He darwin-6turns his hoof to anything! We just look to have fun. Darwin is the sort of horse that is so easy to love, he always puts a smile on your face as he is very affectionate and easy going, he always tries so hard to please.”

darwin-8“Darwin has to be stabled quite a bit over the winter. I was arriving at the yard in the morning to find four legs that looked NOTHING like horse legs – there was no darwin-1definition to them at all, especially his hinds. After 20 minutes of walking they would go down so I knew what the problem was. Bandaging at night was an option but it’s very time consuming, and then he started to come up in little bumps under the bandages so it seemed I had swapped one problem for another! I was looking darwin-7around for something to help with the bumpy skin when I came across Feedmark’s range of supplements and then of course, the ‘No Fill‘. It was worth a go – darwin-2solve problem number 1 and then I might not have problem number 2!”

“If I was going to be really honest, I didn’t believe that it would work. I thought it was absolute nonsense, but I had tried everything else and was a bit desperate! Darwin was on ‘No Fill‘ all last winter and the results were nothing short of miraculous. It looks a darwin-4little like potpourri and I was very dubious, but Darwin did not have filled legs even once last winter! No bandages, no in hand walking before riding, normal horse legs! Highly recommended.”

Help Your Horse to Breathe Clearly.

Horses that spend so much time in the stable have greater exposure to challenging particles, generated by forage, bedding, dried mud, and scurfy coats. These particles are inhaled, and in a healthy environment they will be istock_000009943540_mediumtrapped by cilia and mucous in the upper respiratory tract, and removed. If the stable environment is too dusty the respiratory system is overloaded, which impairs usual function and causes irritation and inflammation, in turn restricting the airways, increasing the risk of coughs or other respiratory issues. If ventilation in your stables is poor or bedding/forage is dusty the risk of respiratory problems increases.


If your horse is stabled more frequently over the winter, following these tips can help to maintain optimum respiratory health:

  • The Stable: ensure your stable is well ventilated and keep top stable doors, windows and any vents open. Horses do not worry about draughts, and providing they are adequately rugged they will cope well even during bouts of bad weather. If you are worried about snow or rain blowing in, use turnout rugs to keep your horse warm and dry.
  • Forage: a lot of hay is too dusty to feed to horses dry. Soaking hay reduces dust particles, but will also reduce the nutritional value of hay as nutrients are leeched out into the water, notably sugars and water soluble vitamins. While ideal for very good doers and those istock_000005161892smallneeding low-sugar diets, for horses in hard work and poor doers this is not such a good thing- and soaking is also time consuming and can be messy and difficult in freezing conditions. An alternative option is to feed steamed hay, which reduces the amount of dust particles without nutrient losses, or you could consider feeding a good quality haylage, or a short chop fibre.
  • Supplement: feeding a respiratory supplement can benefit horses that are stabled often through the winter by helping to thin and expel excess mucous and hence remove harmful dust particles, soothing the airways.
  • Bedding: sealed rubber matting in a well-draining stable will help to minimise build-up of ammonia and can also help to reduce the amount of bedding needed. Choose a low-dust bedding which is also absorbent- there are various options available, so pick one that suits you and your horse, whether it is good quality straw, shavings or wood chips.
  • Mucking out: where possible muck out without your horse in the stable, and leave the dust to settle before bringing your horse back in. If you use strong disinfectants in the stable, follow manufacturer’s instructions, as incorrectly used these can also be a respiratory irritant.
  • Grooming: when grooming and rug changing, it is advisable to do so out of the stable to reduce the amount of mud and scurf particles.
  • Turn out: turn out is very important to help maintain respiratory, and mental health for your horse, so whenever possible get them out of the stable!



For any more helpful advice or feeding tips for horses that are stabled over the winter call one of our Nutritional Advisors on 0800 585525, email [email protected], or use our online chat service available at

Horse Of The Week – Simmy.

simmy-2Our new Horse Of The Week is Simmy, an 18-year-old Welsh Section B pony who belongs to Andrea Nicholson. Andrea told us: “Desarbre Scimtar (Simmy) came to mesimmy-5 on loan to cover 2 of my mares seven years ago. He was due to return to his owner in France the following February. During that year, he totally won my heart as the kindest, most biddable pony ever.”simmy-4

“He never went back, as my lovely husband bought him for my 60th birthday! He had spent most of his life covering mares, although we knew he had been broken as a youngster and had been on loan as simmy-3a ridden pony before coming to us. We decided to try putting him back into work, and he absolutely loved it!”

“However, the years of running with mares had taken its toll, and he felt a bit flat and tired, so we started him on Feedmark’s ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips, and he has never looked back! He loves his ridden showing simmy-6and is never out of the ribbons. He won at the New Forest Show 3 years ago, and this year, aged eighteen, he returned to the show and was 7th in a huge class of much younger ponies. He also qualified for 2 finals at the NPS summer champs and again came away with good placings in Open simmy-8ridden and Veteran classes. He still covers, and I currently have a beautiful yearling filly by him. He is sound, happy, and loves life. He plays with my yearling colt like a pony half his age. Here’s hoping for many more years of the same!”

A FREE 1.35kg tub of ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips is on it’s way to Simmy for being our Horse Of The Week!

Horse Of The Week – Rosie.

rosie-2This week’s Horse Of The Week is Rosie, who was owned by Karen Tadd. Karen explains “Unfortunately, Rosie is norosie-1 longer with us, but I would really like to share her story. She was a 15.1hh Irish Draught.”

“We used Steady-Up Advance when Rosie had to be on box rest for 8 weeks. She was always a very stressy mare at the best of times when she was left in, but using Steady-Up Advance was a blessing. It kept her completely calm and rested. Steady-Up Advance helped a lot when bringing Rosie back into work, rosie-3and it kept her calm when she was turned out for the first few times. I was absolutely blown away with the product, I do recommend Steady-Up Advance whenever anyone asks about a calmer. Thank you Feedmark for such a great product! We went on to have lots of fun together, mainly rosie-4hacking and enjoying life!”

If you would like your horse to feature as Feedmark’s Horse Of The Week, please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] .

Horse Of The Week – Alfie.

alfie-3This 16hh Thoroughbred is Alfie, and he is 13 years old. Gaelann East owns Alfie, and has done so for 3 years. Together they do a lot of dressage. Gaelann told us: “Alfie is an ex racer, he raced with a few placings then went off to a home that hacked him out before he came to me to be retrained for dressage. Alfie and I have been placed and have qualified at the RoR National Finals for three years running. alfie-1We came 10th with our Dressage To Music pair at the Riding Club Finals this year. Alfie also took RoR South East Champion in three classes this year.”

“I have lots of plans for Alfie to move up the alfie-6Dressage levels, and in 2017 we will start to work on Elementary moves, and hopefully go out competing in new Elementary Freestyle to Music. Alfie and I have lots of Qualifications to work towards with RoR Dressage and hope to top the points league again.”

“When Alfie came to us his hoof structure was weak and we kept losing shoes, so I started feeding Feedmark’s Hardy Hoof Formula. Alfie is a right fussalfie-2 monster when it comes to food but the small pellets of Hardy Hoof were easily mixed into his feed. Now we have got him to a stage where he maintains a strong hoof structure, we can keep shoes on for 6 weeks, whereas before he was slipping out of alfie-7them rather too frequently. In the summer when Alfie is on a reduced hard feed, we top up his diet with more hardy hoof to support the hoof horn growth rates. I would highly recommend this product for shod or barefoot horses (I have one of each).”alfie-5

A FREE tub of Hardy Hoof is on its way to Alfie for being our Horse Of The Week!

If you would like your horse to feature as Feedmark’s Horse Of The Week, please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] .