A rescue horse which almost died from starvation three years ago will be competing at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in October in the final of the SEIB Insurance Brokers Search For a Star (SFAS) series.
At the SEIB SFAS qualifier at Bury Farm, Bucks, on 16 July, Cheryl Moore’s lovely Connemara/Thoroughbred cross George Gently – named after the TV series character – gave full-time estate agent Anthony Nicholas a HOYS qualifying ticket in the hack/riding horse division.
Anthony, 25, lives in Lymm, Cheshire, and works in Manchester city centre, so rides Cheryl Moore’s seven-year-old ‘George’ whenever he can.
“Because of work commitments, I’d given up horses but was missing them terribly,” said Anthony. “I met Cheryl through a mutual friend in 2015, and she suggested I might like to take George for a hack. She then asked if I would help her out with schooling him.
“I saw he had huge potential to be a lovely show horse, and as Cheryl and I became good friends, the partnership between me and George just went from strength to strength.”
When Cheryl rescued George in September 2014, he was severely malnourished. “Her vet said that if he had been left in that condition for a further two weeks he would have died,” said Anthony. “It breaks my heart to even think about that because he is so loving and appreciative of everything you do for him.
“Although George was four years old, Cheryl’s farrier said he still had ‘foal feet’ because of his condition. He reckoned she would be very lucky if she ever got to ride him, but this didn’t stop George. He has a heart of gold and wasn’t going to let his past affect his future.
“His little foal feet turned into solid hooves, giving him the opportunity to turn his hoof to anything. In addition to his excellent showing potential, we also discovered he has a fantastic jump and therefore Cheryl began showjumping him. He is now registered with British Showjumping and competes locally in British Novice and Discovery, qualifying for the Scope Festival this year.”
George is also quite a character, according to Anthony. “Not a day goes by when he doesn’t have me and Cheryl in stitches,” he added. “He does so many funny things – for example when you give him his bucket of food, he throws it across the stable then spends hours hoovering each little bit up off the floor. He’s also constantly trying to eat the plants from the hanging baskets outside the stables, and he likes to open car doors with his mouth and then look at you as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me.’
“He loves sticking his head out of the window on the way home from a show and mess with his muzzle as the wind blows in his face!”
Anthony could not have been more delighted to qualify for HOYS. “It’s been a dream of mine to ride at HOYS since I first went when I was nine to watch, but I never thought it would happen,” he said. “This is a wonderful series – we were delighted to be third at the qualifier at Osbaldeston in April and the knowledge, support and confidence that the judges gave me on that day made me realise I was on a horse that could maybe get the golden ticket with a bit more work.”
“The standard in this series is continuing to improve year on year and it’s lovely to hear heartwarming stories such as this,” said SEIB marketing manager Nicolina Mackenzie. “It proves you should never give up and there is always a chance to live your dream.”