ANDREW Johnson rode his own Quintons Ernest to a coveted place at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show.
The 34-year-old, from Warwick, came out on top of the cob class at the SEIB Insurance Broker’s Search for a Star 2016 HOYS qualifier held at Houghton Hall in Cambridgeshire on the May 15.
Johnson’s full Irish Draught gelding, known as Ernie, was originally bought as a winter project to work on while his other horse was injured.
“He never recovered, so Ernie stayed,” said Johnson, who works as a farrier. “The gelding has overcome a confidence crisis to make it to the top spot at Houghton.
“He was very timid to begin with. We came to Search for a Star last year and he was pulled in top, but he spooked with the ride judge. He wasn’t ready but he has really grown up now.”
The pair has had success in Irish Draught breed classes, winning the Midlands Irish Draught Ridden Championship and the cob class at the annual Irish Draught show.
“He has gained so much confidence in the last 12 months and is a much better ride,” Johnson continued. “Search for a Star was our main aim this year, and it has been better for him to have another year before getting to HOYS.”
Johnson hopes to start jumping Ernie, whose favourite treat is fresh raspberries, later this year. He will aim the cob at the Irish Draught Championships again and hopes to try some Royal International qualifiers.
The SEIB Search for a Star series has been created by SEIB to encourage amateur riders to produce their horses to a high standard in the show ring and giving them the opportunity to compete at the prestigious finals at the Horse Of The Year Show (HOYS).
Each qualifying competition follows the same format, with classes for Working Hunters, Riding Club Show Horses, Show Hunters, Show Ponies & Show Hunter Ponies, Riding Horse/Hacks and Cobs.
Johnson will compete at the SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star Championship finals at the Horse of the Year Show from October 5-9 at the Birmingham NEC.