Winners of the SEIB Search for a Star finals often go on to achieve great things. Alex Robinson meets the connections of the 2019 overall champion
Need to know
Breeding: Canal Fred x Carrantubber Lad
Breeder: John Lynch
Class: under 143cm mountain and moorland working hunter pony
Rider/owner: Lisa Sergeant
Best results: 2020, joint first novice mixed height working hunter pony Westmorland County Show; 2019, SEIB Search for a Star (SFAS) working pony winner and overall SFAS champion; first SFAS working pony qualifier at Osbaldeston; 2018, third prelim final British Riding Club winter dressage championships.
Owner/rider Lisa Sergeant
“I lost my former dressage horse to arthritis in November 2016 and I was umming and aahing about getting another; I decided I couldn’t not have a horse in my life. At the time, I had a pony on loan and had taken up jumping; it was a bit of a mid-life crisis as I hadn’t jumped in a very long time.
“One evening I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this beautiful five-year-old Connemara gelding. It was Linsfort Ear To The Ground, known as Leo. He’d come over from Ireland as a four-year-old and hadn’t been broken in long.
“As soon as I sat on him, I loved him. He’d been started off so well. I even popped a jump on him, which was a massive deal for me, and he’s been with me ever since. He goes beautifully and my dressage training background means he can perform quite technical moves, such as half-pass.
“We developed our partnership and as I got a bit braver with my jumping, we did some cross-country. In 2018, we signed up for the Wobbleberry Challenge and in 2019 we completed our first one-day event.
“Our SEIB Search for a Star [SFAS] journey started when we won our first qualifier at Osbaldeston. We hadn’t done loads of workers; Leo loves being outdoors and can get a little claustrophobic inside, so we’ve always focused on cross-country.
“I didn’t think Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] would be the best set-up for him, but he was ne and rose to the occasion. I actually took him cross-country schooling three days before HOYS to get him thinking forward and people thought I was mad!
“He lives out, so came in from the field at 5am before we set off to the NEC. He’d not spent a night in a stable for over two-and-a- half years, but he settled into his box perfectly. The 5.30am warm-up was slightly bonkers and my mouth was on the oor when I watched one of the first SFAS finals; the atmosphere was crazy. I had the time of my life in the championship.
“At home, my daughter Hannah rides him. Leo hasn’t a bad bone in his body, but he’s scared of his own shadow. We’d love to contend the mountain and moorland worker circuit next year. We just need the competitive experience now.”
Judge Jordan Cook
“When Linsfort Ear To The Ground entered the ring at the Osbaldeston SEIB SFAS qualifier, he really caught my eye with his workmanlike attitude and his ‘look at me’ factor. He is a fantastic model and was turned out to a high standard.
“As we asked the class to go through their paces, he always had his ears pricked and was moving forward in a balanced rhythm. He was looking through the bridle in a polite manner with his shoulders lifted and his back end engaged.
“I remember thinking what a lovely, comfy sit-on he looked. You could tell that a great deal of time and correct training had been put into both horse and rider; he was so happy to be going about his job.
“A star was found that day and I really do hope he goes on to do the working mountain and moorland classes, as I do think he would be a great contender. However, I honestly think he would be successful in any discipline to which he turns his hoof.”
Current trainer Julie Andrews
“Leo is a cracker of a pony. I’ve taught Lisa for about 18 months and over this time we’ve worked on getting the pair to flow over fences. Leo can be spooky so we’ve done lots of repetition to get him jumping consistently, with flowing changes and strides around courses.
“He’s quite conservative with his jumping and he sometimes could do more than he chooses. He has the scope and ability to move up the levels and Lisa’s excellent flatwork training has made the whole process of teaching them much easier.
“He rides so well and pretty much does everything perfectly on the flat, which transfers through to his jumping.”
Ref: 4 February 2021
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