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Sam Catton hits HOYS – Guest Blog

Read all about local shower Sam’s trip to HOYS….

On the 3rd August 2013 I made the decision not to travel the 8 hour journey to Hickstead to compete at the Royal International Horse Show with my Large Hack; Downies Mystic Maestro. Instead we made the trip to Garstang Agricultural Show near Blackpool to compete in a Horse Of The Year Show qualifier. My dreams came true that day and Maestro behaved impeccably to secure a win and then to go on to be reserve champion and, most importantly, we booked our place at HOYS.

The hard work didn’t stop there as now we had just two months to make sure that Maestro looked his best, not an easy task when the weather was forever changing – we went from lightweight rugs to heavyweight in a matter of days.

One autumnal Saturday night I received a phone call from a lady asking me if I was able to take over the reins on her two horses that had already booked their tickets for HOYS. This was such a shock – not only have I qualified my own horse but now I was being given the opportunity to ride for someone else at such a prestigious show.

On a dark cold Tuesday night in September, just a little over two weeks before HOYS, Gavin Jamieson Horse Transporter turned up at the yard and unloaded my new rides, Dabernon Omen (Welsh Section C – stable name Ollie) and Monknash Moonwalk (Coloured Non Native Pony – stable name Sally). I couldn’t believe it – I only had two weeks before I had to ride both of these beautiful horses in the Caldene Arena at HOYS and, at that moment I hadn’t even sat on either of them!

The next morning the hard work began – up at the break of dawn to ride and start building a connection with both horses. With a total of six horses to ride each day, I called in a friend to help ride those that weren’t in preparation for HOYS. Two weeks of early starts and late finishes and all seemed to be going well – the horses were working beautifully and looked amazing then, one day, I felt like my world was falling apart. One horse went lame with a suspected poisoned foot and another had developed a sore back. How could my luck change so quickly? I thought my dreams of riding at HOYS were fading away but, thanks to the help of Alnorthumbria Veterinary Practice and Equine Physiotherapist Hazel Potter, both horses were quickly fixed and the journey to HOYS was back on track.

The day arrived, Tuesday 8th October, the lorry was packed, horses bathed and ready to set off on their journey to Birmingham. Having left the yard just after lunch we made the four and a half hour journey to the NEC, Birmingham. On arriving at our destination, the vet came and checked Maestro and Ollie to make sure that all their vaccinations were up to date and that their passports were correct. After making sure that the stables were fine and putting the biggest beds down to make sure they were both comfortable, we put both horses into their stable for a well deserved rest and some tea. At 7.40pm, Ollie was tacked up and in the Caldene Arena for his first warm up. This was the first time we had been in the ring together and, although we weren’t competing, the atmosphere was still electric. Ollie was a little stage shocked to begin with but then worked amazingly well and I couldn’t have been happier with how he felt. It was then back to the stables, which seemed like a million miles away from the arenas. I put Ollie back in his stable and made sure both him and Maestro were tucked up nice and warm with plenty of haylage, food and water to last the night. It was then time to head back to the lorry for a well-earned glass of wine before the pandemonium started in the morning.

My alarm rang at 4am and it was time to get up and start preparations for my first class of the week. First on the agenda was to make sure that both horses were worked thoroughly. Due to the strict timings for warming horses up, I had to make sure I had both horses ready. Maestro attended his warm up in the International Arena at 5am where he worked well and was impeccably behaved then it was a quick change onto Ollie for his warm in at 5.50am in the Caldene Arena which was a five minute walk from the International Arena.  Ollie also worked amazingly. Both horses were then taken back to their stables for a bit of breakfast before it was time for Ollie to get ready to “strut his stuff” in front of the judge.

The time had come. Ollie was polished, sparkled and looking fabulous and my nerves were starting to get the better of me. I had never ridden this horse in the ring before, I had never ridden in a Mountain and Moorland class before and the pressure was on as someone had believed in me enough to do their horse justice at Horse Of The Year Show.  After a quick pep talk with a friend, I came to see sense and that as long as I tried my best and rode to the best of my ability then I should be proud!

Off we went into the Caldene Arena where, firstly, we walked around in front of the judges before the class was then split into two sections. We then went in to trot and then canter, showing the judges what we were made of. The section was then pulled into line up where we were then asked to perform an individual show consisting of a walk, trot, canter and extension. Ollie and I were 2nd last to go – we came out and stood before the judge, then we were off – nice big powerful canter and the most extravagant trot I’ve ever ridden across the diagonal and a beautiful gallop, it felt breath-taking and the crowd gave a massive cheer!! Now it was time to swap with the other section and go into the collecting ring where we had to take off our saddle and present Ollie for the conformation judge. Ollie stood nicely, walked away and trotted back beautifully for the judge. It was time to get back on board, go back into the ring and wait for the final placings. The atmosphere was very intense as the crowds waited patiently to see who was going to be called forward as the NPS Baileys Horse Feeds Section C of the Year…firstly they started calling out numbers and I was sat patiently waiting to see who was the lucky people to make it into the top 11 then all of a sudden I heard them call forward 708 – it was me!! I couldn’t believe it I had made it into the top 11. In reverse order they called forward for the final placings – we ended up 10th. This was the most amazing feeling ever. After finishing our lap of honour, which seemed to go in a flash, I was met outside by all my family and friends with bottles of champagne. This was as good as winning!!

But my day was not over! There was no time to party just yet, as I was riding again the next day and I had to get Maestro ready so it was back to the stables to bath and plait Maestro as our ride in wasn’t until 10.15pm. Once all the jobs were complete, it was time to do some retail therapy in the shopping mall and catch up with some friends.

Thursday morning dawned and it was Maestro’s time to shine. The hacks are a very difficult class to compete in as a bond between horse and rider is vital as the horse is also ridden by  the judge so therefore must be schooled to perfection. Maestro felt very relaxed and I was pleased with how he was going. After the initial go round, it was time for us to do our conformation first, so off came the saddle and Maestro was presented before the judge. Next it was time for the judge to ride him – this is always the part where I feel nervous as horses are unpredictable and everyone always wants their horse to go well. Thankfully Maestro gave the judge a nice ride. Now it was my turn and I didn’t let my boy down. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how Maestro went, however we didn’t make into the top places but it was an achievement to get there in its self. It was now time to have some lunch before setting off home for a day back at work and to swap horses.

Saturday morning arrived and it was Sally’s turn to make the trip down to the NEC Arena, so off we went back down the A1. Once again Sally was checked over by the vet on arrival, then it was her turn to have a trot around the Caldene Arena before her big day. She was so well behaved. Sunday morning arrived and the rain was pouring down. Sally warmed up amazingly and it was time to start getting her ready for the ring. After a extremely wet walk back to the Caldene, it was time for Sally to show us what she had. She came up trumps and pulled off a great show but, unfortunately, again we weren’t in the top placings. It was now time to head back to the lorry and head home.

I couldn’t have asked for a better week at HOYS. I can’t believe how lucky I had been to have the ride on three amazing horses and I would like to thank my mum and dad for sticking by me all these years and driving the country and back again, to my brother Lee who, as much as I hate to admit it, is the best groom ever, to Sam Banister for giving me the opportunity to ride both her horses and finally the biggest thank you to Silvermoor Haylage for your sponsorship. My horses have never looked so great with your haylage and I look forward to our 2014 season.

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Rain rain go away!

My goodness what a wash out this summer has been so far! I know you’ll all agree with me it’s been absolutely horrendous, with events being cancelled here there and everywhere, flooding throughout and so many withdrawals due to the ground. It’s had a massive impact on us here we’re very  behind with the grass now, we have bitten the bullet today and cut our first lot today – if everyone could do a sun dance tonight we’d appreciate it!!

In the meantime we still have lots and lots of yummy haylage and don’t have any worries about running out so you can rest assured we’re here to support you all the way through the competition season.

We finally launched our first newsletter last week, sign up via our website if you’ve missed out. In it is the chance to win a pallet of haylage so it’s definitely worth it!

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Hi All
My goodness it seems to have been an age since I last blogged, sorry everyone we are still here I promise! I hope winter has been kind and you and your horses and ponies are well. It was a lot different to last years’ freezing frosts and endless snow fall wasn’t it?!
All has been going well at silvermoor, we have had a couple of changes so I’ll get you up to date with all the goings on. As the weather has been so kind we still have lots of lovely haylage in stock, you’ll all be relieved to hear we won’t be facing any shortages anytime soon.
We have been trying to push the brand further and attended BETA International last month where we met lots of fantastic people. Thank you everyone for coming to visit us and fingers crossed you will see silvermoor in lots more places across the country very soon. If you are interested in becoming a silvermoor stockist please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 01665 602587.
The eventing season is getting into full swing, this year we are delighted to be supporting Caroline Powell and Nicola Wilson; their lucky horses will be munching on silvermoor on their travels! I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing them every success for the 2012 season, good luck girls!
Sadly Matty left us earlier this year as he has returned to his family farm. He’ll be a big miss at silvermoor but has promised to keep in touch and will still be helping us out when he can. We have a new recruit stepping into his shoes, Steven, who will be out and about driving the silvermoor wagon as well as working with Seth on the grass work. Steven has lots of agricultural and equestrian experience and I know he will help us to produce the very best haylage.
I think that’s it in a nutshell. I’ve just made another resolution to blog more often, as I seem to have failed on most of the other ones I made this one I promise to keep!
Lindsay x

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Haylage in the East Midlands

We have some fantastic news for you all, you can now get wonderful Silvermoor Recreation Haylage from The Barn Shop in Royston! These guys have a brilliant shop with the largest range of Equestrian products I’ve seen in a long time. All the best brands are in there, Pikeur, Toggi, Gersmei, Mountain Horse and loads more, all housed in over 15000 sqft of shop! And now they are complete as they have Silvermoor in stock! They have a really large car park so plenty of space to bring the lorry to stock up for the next lot of snow.

This means that if you live in parts of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, or Suffolk you can now add Silvermoor Haylage to your order. Better yet you do not even have to brave the cold wet winter weather, just get their lovely delivery driver to bring it straight to your door. This service is brilliant and means that even more people can enjoy the huge stock range at The Barn Shop in Royston, just give them a call and check on the distance.

Why not check out their website; or give them a call on 01223 208010 to place your order. They are on our post code finder too so check out to have a look where they are.


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sledges for sale!!

Turns out that Silvermoor Recreation has another fantastic use; Sam and Steph discovered that they make a great sledge! I wonder if the Active bales will go any faster than the Recreation, I think it calls for a race!

We have had an interesting few days down on the farm, with 16” of snow now and more to come, the lads are going to have to work extra hard to keep warm!

We did have a bit of an adventure on Friday with a articulated lorry arriving to fill up with over 1000 bales, we had to drag it onto the farm with a tractor and fill it up then drag it back out.  Unfortunately it slipped a bit and fell off the farm road, oops! We had to cut through the fence and rescue the bales before it tipped over and then harness up two tractors and drag it onto the main road to re-load it all! Although it took a tad longer than we thought it would we managed to get it out and on its way to the retailer!

The worst bit was no one had a camera so we missed a golden photo opportunity! 


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Can you ever trust a Sat-Nav?

Hi All,

 Well blogging is a new idea for me, i’ve never been very good at keeping diaries or even just remembering what i’ve done in the last 24hours so this is going to be an exercise in organisation for me; can i remember to write down enough interesting things to make this worth reading? i hope so.

As you might know i’m the new sales and business development manager for Silvermoor Equestrian Haylage.  This is a bit of a new direction for me as my background is in agricultural retail with North East based company Farmway Ltd.  However so far its going well, i’ve not done anything horrific and no one has shouted, so i see that as a sucess. 

My aim is not only to increase sales of Silvermoor Haylage but also to offer the highest levels of customer service and support to our retailers.  Any one wants me to attend open days or go round yards with Silvermoor please just email me( or visit our website or find us on facebook and twitter and i’ll do my best to attend and i’m easy to spot too;

Although i’ve not been out and about much so far it’s amazing the strange and comical things you do see, such as in Cumbria last week there is a “Huge Antiques Fair”, it must have been set back off the road as you’d think hugh antiques would be hard to miss!  Also is there an elephant in near Lake Windermere? There is a sign for one, if i had the time i would have followed it to be able to tell you for certain but i had loads of new shops to visit.  Any clarification on this matter would be appreciated.  Also the sign for Lambs leap (i think) with a picture of a duck underneath confused me for a while, couldn’t get a photo though as i was driving.

I’ve decided that the Sat-Nav has its place but it will always now come second to a map and road signs, i mean really when is a gated road ever going to be the fastest route??  Although the with size of the bull in the field the road ran through those gates were opened and closed pretty fast!  Who ever invented the Sat-Nav has a slightly wicked side i think.


I can assure every one that Silvermoor Active Haylage does not make you horse go loopy!  My littel mare had about half a bag of it on saturday night with a one day event on sunday which i did wonder about, even though i know the theory about it being slow release due to being fibre etc, well i now know that it really does work she performed really well and kept her head all day!  although she could just have been so stuffed she couldn’t be bothered to be silly!

i’ll keep you posted on any more strange sightings,


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New Year

Hello and a happy new year to you all. Well at least the 3 people who have admitted to read this, which has more to do with the large amount of money I pay them than an interestin my literary skills.
It has been a difficult time for all of us who have horses. I can not remember having been forced into such a layoff as we have had in the last couple of months.Mine had a very extended Christmas break which I am sure they enjoyed but was quite uncalled for as they had only been in work for 6 weeks. Much haylage later they are now back in work, but I think we have missed the boat as far as hunting is concerned and will have to do other horsey activites instead, I am trying to book a showjumping lesson for my hunter which could be a mistake as he has not seen a filler for 2 years. I will let you know when we are going to Hickstead!
As you know we have been very bust keeping up with the demand for haylage which is the inevitable result of the snow and ice. There were a couple of days when delivery seemed a forlorn hope but I think we managed to keep most people happy, despite the lorry falling into a ditch and taking a fence out on one occasion.
The haylage machine is now having to work very hard and the boys are keeping it going 7 days a week, we are not going to let it know about European working hours but will keep it happy with bribes of oil changes and regular bangs with a hammer which should suffice.
I have had my lorry resprayed, ( to cover the rust) in the Silvermoor colours so you may seeit out and about. I am hoping the 5 year old will be eventing this season so I hope she does not let us down. Craig Anderson will be riding her so I will keep you up to date with her progress ( no pressure Craig!)
I seemto have very little news this time but hoefully things will now pick up and there will be lots to report next time.
I have eaten a very large packet of jelly beans in the course of this report which has made me feel a bit sick as well as being a poor effort in the new years resolution.

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There is a definite nip in the air now and I have even put rugs on the horses, so I am afraid winter seems to be inevitable, short days, wet  muddy horses and lots of extra work, the joys of our hobby! Would we change if we could?doubtful.

We have all the haylage in now and the pyramids look impressive, we have much more than last year and are taking on new retailers all the time.

The processing machine is very busy and as a result we have taken on 2 new members of staff, Nick and Joe, Nick is from our area and Joe has moved up from Blackpool, I think he may be a little disappointed with the Alnwick illuminations, but we wish them well.

Ralphs puppy, Pop, ( daughter of Coke!) is now a very fat happy cheerful Labrador who loves everyone even Dog ( jack russell) who has no special feelings for her at all and would really like her to leave home.

There is a new mini forklift on the farm which rushes around doing whatever mini forklifts do, fetching and carrying, a bit like a Labrador puppy really but more use.

Seth has put his long trousers back on as opposed to shorts, another sure sign that winter is coming I will let you know when summer is here as he will get the shorts out again

I have been to Blair horse trails with the haylage road show,and was very excited to hear that someone admitted to reading this! so this is for Elaine Caig of Crocket Ford, I did not even have to pay her and she is not a member of my family. If any one else reads it please let me know and I will be jumping up and down with joy, unfortunately not literally as I have just had my cruciate ligament joined up again so am a little lame, does anyone know when I will be able to ride again after this as I am pulling my hair out with boredom it has now been 2 weeks and feels good but I think if I ask the surgeon he will have me waiting for ever, I am not that good at waiting.

Will be back soon, Fiona



Hello everyone, we are now in late July and it seems the year is racing away, I am even starting to think of Christmas presents which is a bit of a worry as I am sure the BBQ has not had enough to do yet!
Thankfully in spite of the many heavy showers we have been able to keep really up to date with the cutting and baling of the grass and have been really lucky to get some exceptional haylage made for you to look forward to. the first cut is now ready and honestly it looks and smells so good I wish I could eat it too, I was wondering if it would be possible to make air fresheners with the same smell ( a lucrative side line maybe)
The puppies are great now , 7weeks of mischief, they are very happy destroying Ralphs garden and looking very innocent, we still need homes for the 2 dogs in case anyone is interested they are from a really good working family which also have fab natures, give Ralph a ring if you would like to give one a home.
All is quiet on the horse front here as I have been away at the Highland and the Yorkshire show recently so it seemed sensible to gave 4 yr old some time off , she has been to a few parties and was very well behaved so I will bring her back up later in the year with a view to starting her eventing career next year, however you know what plans and horses are like, they never seem to follow the same path, I will let you know if they even become similar.
Ollie the foal is, as you can imagine, very cheeky now and spends a lot of time getting piggy backs from his mother and best friend the yearling, he is very good on his hind legs which is something I very much hope he will grow out of as I really do not need any airs above the ground as a 4 year old!
We have not as yet filled the marketing role so if anyone would be interested in this position have a look at the job description on the web site, I was rather hoping that I would be able to retire soon on an extremely large pension and you would not have to read further ramblings , or I also thought I would have been snapped up by a tabloid for a weekly column by now, this is disappointing but I remain available and hopeful!
I will be at Blair Atholl horse trails on the 27 to 30th of August so I hope to see some of you there
Enjoy the rest of the summer.

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June News

Hi to you all, here we are past the longest day of the year already and it seems like yesterday it was Christmas! We have just returned from the Royal Highland show which was a good chance to catch up with a lot of our northern customers as well as the chance to see a lot of top class horses, I especially liked the Clydesdale in the side saddle class as it was so well  schooled and totally different to what you would expect.

The first cut in the haylage department is now finished and the pile of bales looks very impressive at Silvermoor, as you would imagine the weather made life a little easier this year than last and the quality looks to be of a really high standard , which is good news for us all

We have now  got the new baler on the go so the supersize bale is available to those of you who are feeding more than 3 horses, these should make it more ecomonical so if you are interested get in touch with your retailer for more details.

Coke, the labrador, has had 3 puppies, she is being economical too! 2 dogs and 1 bitch, they are three and a half weeks old now and very sweet, I took them out for a walk this morning ( well a crawl really)   and hopefully at some point their legs will actually carry their very fat tummies.

The foal ( Ollie) is doing really well and seems to spend a lot time on his hind legs which does not bode well for the future should it continue but is fun to watch, the other mare is back from stud and hopefully will foal next April so we will have a 2 year old, yearling and foal this time next year, it takes no time at all before you have a herd to look after!

Our next outing with the Silvermoor road show is at the Great Yorkshire show on the 14th to the 16th of July, we would be really pleased to meet you if you are attending and I will have a bottle of something or other open as well as lots of freebies for you to take home so please get yourselves along to stand 89 for a chat.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Ralph in the recent ” If I  I can you can ” competition which he won so well done to him and you as it was partly dependent on how many votes he received, this means he will get lots of business advice which I am sure he will find invaluable as well as a computer and a mentor for a year.

Well I am off to iron the arena with the quad now as I jumped both the horses today, I have to do it by myself so as you can imagine I try very hard not to knock any thing down as getting on and off is a real hassle, this does mean that they both do the same things which is not ideal for a 4 year old and a 12 year old! however needs must, I will be back soon, Fiona

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