‘Showing has been an ode to my late horse’: nurse takes 2022 SEIB Search For A Star title

  • It took a moment for cardiology nurse Alex Windross to realise that she’d been called out as champion of the 2022 SEIB Search For A Star (SFAS) championship with her nine-year-old riding horse Herbie at the 2022 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). But when the penny dropped, a childhood dream had been realised.

    “I didn’t believe I would win; there were some fabulous horses in that championship,” said Alex. “I’ve been coming here as a spectator for years and years. There used to be a stall at HOYS where you could buy a rosette and get your horse’s name stamped on it, but never did I believe that I’d win my own one day. To ride at HOYS, alongside some of the names I’ve idolised for years, doesn’t feel real.”

    Alex’s decision to show Herbie came earlier this year when her first horse, Freddie, suddenly died from colic.

    “I’d had him for a long time and Herbie was bought to take his place when he retired, but he died suddenly,” said Alex. “Freddie had always liked to show and I showed him locally. Showing has been an ode to him. I decided to do one show with Herbie and I chose the SFAS series, and to my amazement we qualified first time. At that point, I thought I had better pull my socks up and get to work over the summer, which has paid off.”

    Alex fits horses around shift work:

    “It’s very hard to fit it all in,” she explained. “I go without much sleep; after night shifts I go to ride before going to bed, then I’ll be back at the yard to muck out before going to work again. They’re long days. I’m not back on shift until Monday night so I’m going to enjoy the weekend celebrating.”

    Herbie was only bought by Alex as the sale of her intended purchase fell through:

    “The owner rang me and said she had another horse if I was interested,” Alex explained. “I went to view him and it was a scrawny, steel grey. I was deliberating whether to buy this new pony or get a new kitchen, and I came to the conclusion that microwaves aren’t that expensive.

    “He’s taken a lot of maturing, but we’ve done a lot together, including dressage and combined championships.

    “I have Freddie’s old bridle on Herbie as well as a noseband I’ve borrowed from a friend.

    “This is my childhood dream. I never thought I’d be riding in that main arena.”

    Maxine Linas and her working show horse winner An Buachaill Ban Bui took reserve in the 2022 SEIB Search For A Star championship. Maxine runs her own social media marketing company and her gelding, who is known as Bandit, usually events but also show jumps, hunts and does riding club activities.

    “I’ve had him two years and he has evented round BE90,” said Maxine. “I’ve always wanted to come to HOYS and I knew he would be the right horse for the job. I work from home which makes fitting in horses easier.

    “HOYS is only Bandit’s second show; our first was the SEIB SFAS qualifier. He’s taken everything in his stride. This is a full dream come true; I’ve been to HOYS to spectate many times and have watched friends ride here, too.”

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