Road to the SFAS finals: Winning endurance pony proves his versatility by successful switching to the show ring

  • Until recently the Connemara gelding Carrowkeel Storm was a proven all-rounder who was more commonly found on the endurance circuit. But when his owner, Hannah Sedgwick, took him to a showing competition to keep another horse company on the lorry, she realised that her pony of a lifetime could have the right features to make it in the show ring.

    After only contending a handful of shows together, the pair are set to make their debut in the SEIB Search For A Star mountain and moorland (M&M) final at Your Horse Live, after qualifying on their first attempt at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.

    Hannah was first acquainted with Storm, now 11, when he was an unbroken five-year-old.

    “He was living in a field next to where we kept our old horse and my mum, Clare, had helped his owner move him into a new field,” explains Hannah, who works as a pub supervisor. “She said to Mum that if we needed something to do, we were more than welcome to do some work with Storm. When I came back from my ski season I instantly fell in love with him and after having him on loan he was then kindly gifted to us by his owner.”

    Hannah’s sister, Jess, had been competing in endurance with her horse so Hannah took Storm out to further his education.

    “He was a slow learner so we decided endurance would be a good way for him to see the world and learn the ropes without any pressure,” she says. “We both loved it. We did some local competitions and in 2016 we were selected for the home international team as a novice combination. We went to Ireland for a few days and managed to win our class there.”

    Storm has now competed up to 64km level.

    “He manages these well considering he’s a stockier type, though he’s usually competing against Arabs. We mainly did it for fun, aiming to beat our last time.”

    Storm’s show ring debut happened by chance.

    “Jess had a youngster and wanted to take him out in-hand for some experience,” says Hannah. “We decided to take Storm to keep him company and while we were there I thought I might as well enter a class. We competed in the working hunter and came second. We then tried some flat classes and on our first attempt we came away with overall M&M champion; it was then that I realised he could be quite good at this job.”

    Hannah went to Your Horse Live in 2019 and watched the SEIB SFAS final.

    “I was really inspired and decided to set my stall out and try to qualify,” she says. “In 2020 I had my daughter so I was lucky to have Mum and Jess to keep Storm ticking over.

    “On the way to our qualifier at West Wilts we got stuck in traffic and had to ride in a torrential downpour. I’d only done a few showing classes so I was still slightly unsure about what to do, so I couldn’t believe it when we got our ticket.

    “Our preparation for the final has been quite relaxed, with some hacking, dressage and a few lessons with my instructor. Storm is very laid back and can be stubborn so he always performs better when he’s fresh and the event ahead of him is exciting.”

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