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Mervyn Perring Retires From HorseHage After 20 Years.

Mervyn RetiresStaff at Mark Westaway & Son, producer of HorseHage and Mollichaff and headquarters of the company, said goodbye to a long-standing member of staff this month when Mervyn Perring retired after twenty years on the team.

Mervyn was born in Paignton, Devon but lived in Berry Pomeroy all his life. He began working on the payroll and purchase ledger when he first started at Mark Westaway & Son and then moved onto the transport and stock control side of the business.

Said Mervyn,“I have enjoyed working at Mark Westaway’s and am amazed how quickly the time has gone by. I’ve made a lot of friends here and it has been a very happy 20 years. I am looking forward to my retirement but will miss all my friends here.”

Mervyn is planning to spend more time in the garden, walking, watching cricket and visiting his family and will also be enjoying a holiday to Italy with his wife, Lin.

Said Chris Tar, partner at Mark Westaway & Son, “ Merv has been a dedicated and loyal member of staff and he understands the business and our customers inside out. He is the man everyone goes to with questions and is always helpful and never flustered, even in the most difficult of situations. He is very much a team player and will be sorely missed. Merv is a man with many outside interests, from cricket to history – he will not be bored during his well-earned retirement. The partners and staff here at Mark Westaway and Son all wish him the very best in a long and happy retirement.”

Posted in HorseHage News by admin.

Julia Paterson’s Latest Blog – The Final Week Before Badminton!

Julia and Marvin in fine form at Burgham a few weeks back (Photo courtesy of Steve Holmes Photography – www.steveholmesphoto.co.uk)

Julia and Marvin in fine form at Burgham a few weeks back (Photo courtesy of Steve Holmes Photography – www.steveholmesphoto.co.uk)

So since I wrote my last blog what a nightmare we have had!

Our next event should have been Eden Valley but the event was cancelled due to the rain, so we managed to be accepted as a late entry to Breckenborough. We went to Breckenborough but Marvin didn’t seem himself. When he came off the wagon he was very quiet and looked a little dull, which was evident when I jumped on to warm up for the dressage. He just didn’t have any energy, which was so bizarre as he had been fine all week whilst we had been riding out with our friends, Susan McNeil and her lovely old boy, Morph.

I rode the dressage test and he really didn’t get in front of my leg, but I also put this down to my nerves, as I was really feeling the pressure and wondered if my nerves were making him anxious. We came back to the wagon to change our tack ready to show jump and made our way across. All the other horses were flying about, full of the joys of spring, but Marvin wasn’t interested and didn’t make any effort over the practice fences. We were next to go in so I took Marvin to show jump and again, he never got forward and made the course feel really difficult, so I withdrew him there and then.

My vet was at the event so I asked him to check him over. Phillip gave him some vitamin shots to help as he may have picked up a low grade virus and we packed up and went home.

We were due to attend Somerford Park for three days training with Susie Gibson and Laura Grice but as Marvin wasn’t well, I cancelled our trip. £300 lost!

So over the last few weeks it has been nail biting stuff. The only way I can tell if Marvin is feeling unwell or starting to feel better is to be riding him, so we have been just gently hacking out and it has only been recently that he has started to pick up. So we entered Northallerton and dropped a level to BE90 to get a confidence round in before the big event and it was a great day. We did a good dressage test, only one down show jumping and a great confidence-giving cross country round. Albeit Marvin wasn’t feeling as fit as he was a few weeks back, but with a week to go now we will be picking this up and trying to get to Badminton in the best shape we can, so we can just ENJOY the experience…

We have had some final MOT work done with Dean Crossman giving him his annual dental work, and Andy Wheals and Andrea Bainbridge booked in for 1st and 2nd May to check his saddles and give him a physio session so he is feeling as well as he can be…

So now it’s all in the lap of the gods.

Posted in HorseHage News by admin.

Julia Paterson’s March Blog

Countdown to the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship 2014

Burgham – grey weather and mud!

Burgham – grey weather and mud!

I’m sure, like me, you are all so happy to have (hopefully) managed another month without any weather issues. Marvin and I have been able to progress with our Badminton training programme without interruption.

Our plans for March were to travel to Somerford Park for a cross country schooling day with Andrew Heffernan and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I took Megan Birbeck and her horse, Sam, with us, as they are starting out together and this was a great opportunity for them to jump fences they wouldn’t have had the chance to at home and under the watchful and experienced eyes of Andrew.

The boys travelled down to Somerford really well, especially as this would have been the longest journey Sam will have ever had. Both the horses and Megan and I stayed at Somerford overnight and we had a great night’s sleep.  But when we went to feed the boys in the morning, Sam had decided he wanted to escape during the night and eat everyone’s breakfast! Thankfully there were only four horses staying overnight and he must have decided that his and Marvin’s breakfasts were enough!

Marvin gave me a great ride at Somerford. Andrew made the point that he wanted to see more preparation from me to set up before fences and not just allow the stride to grow without the control being there, and that made so much difference. Marvin jumped really well and had no problems at any of the fences that Andrew asked us to jump. We worked on technical related lines to things such as two large houses going uphill and downhill; left and right-handed trakeheners, steps up and down with a tight turn to keep the control and accuracy and then back up the opposite way with two strides to a very skinny and tall box fence, over a jump into the water and out over a skinny brush fence a few strides later.

After Somerford, we travelled again – this time across to Greenlands in Carlisle for two days of show jumping training with Susie Gibson and had two brilliant sessions. On the first day Marvin was mainly jumping left-handed, which I find easier than right- handed, so he was picture perfect, but the following day our weaknesses showed. I really struggle with my left leg as it just isn’t as strong as my right leg, so we worked on lots of pivot turns to some pretty big fences and made great progress.

Later that week we had a dressage session with Claire Dryden, working on accuracy linked to suppleness, so concentrating on the right rein again to build my strength and feel more self-carriage on the right rein by supporting him with both legs equally.

To finish the week we went cross country schooling again with Sara Burdess but I think it was one day too much for both of us. Marvin jumped well but felt quite flat, so I agreed with Sara to take him home. However he had jumped even more new combinations and we worked on some excellent related distances and curving lines over skinny mushroom fences to ski jumps and others, so I was very pleased with him.

Knowing we had done quite a lot of work, I gave Marvin an easier workload – hacking and fast work to keep him feeling fresh and some dressage lessons with Claire, just to work on more test riding to get us ready for Burgham Horse Trials in Northumberland.

Burgham was to be a good test for us to see what issues we would experience. I was planning to go on my own and had everything packed and slept in the lorry as we had quite an early start. I had been to walk the course the day before so I could go over the tracks in my mind. The ground was wet and slippery when I walked the course but the weather forecast was to be warm, so I was hoping it would dry the ground out slightly but unfortunately it had rained heavily overnight and the ground was really wet, in addition to it being really foggy.

Marvin warmed up really well for the dressage but when we went in for our test he became tense and drew back with me. I think this may have been due to the final part of the cross country going past the dressage arenas and although this didn’t upset him, I think this made him slightly on edge – but thankfully not as on edge or explosive as some horses we saw!

The show jumping was a little up and down hill and rode on quite forward strides and I had been working on riding to the strides with both Susie and Sara, so knew I would need to ride up a gear as Marvin doesn’t like the soft going. I had put in nice big studs for the dressage and he had worked in lovely in them, so I kept them in for the show jumping and he was jumping beautifully in the warm up. We went in and jumped really nicely over the first three fences and turned to the fourth, which was a double leading to a forward five strides and downhill to an oxer.  I over-rode him which he didn’t thank me for and stopped at the fence twice, so I re-grouped, got him more collected into the fence which gave him more confidence in the footing and then he popped along nicely with the rest of the course. Lesson to myself – ride the conditions and my horse, not just the course!

So we went back to get changed and off to the cross country. Marvin was quite excited when he got to the start box and gave me a lovely ride around the course. He was jumping really well until the last question – three fences on related distances – a roll top to a pheasant feeder to a corner – which again, I should have just slowed down to give him more time to set himself up for the fence but instead I pushed for the strides and un-nerved him, but he came straight back around and popped it, so overall I was very happy with him. I’m so pleased to have our first event under our belts and learnt a great deal from the day.

Next stop – Eden Valley near Carlisle on 6th April and only four weeks after that will be Badminton….

Posted in HorseHage News by admin.

HorseHage Sponsors British Riding Clubs’ Volunteers Club

One of the valued BRC volunteers helping out at an event

One of the valued BRC volunteers helping out at an event

We would like to announce our support for the Volunteers Club within British Riding Clubs (BRC).

The BRC movement represents over 33,000 horse owners and carers in over 460 clubs and centres which affiliate to the British Horse Society (BHS). Covering all disciplines from dressage to endurance riding, the organisation caters for all ages and abilities and offers a comprehensive training and assessment system which is aimed at improving the standards of horse care, riding and horsemanship skills through local and national programmes.

The Volunteers Club currently has 160 members and is open to all BRC members. These volunteers provide assistance in organising and running BRC events throughout the UK and are seen as a vital presence within the organisation.

Master BRC Volunteers ClubSaid Chris Tar of HorseHage: “We are very happy to be able to sponsor the BRC Volunteers Club. Many top riders will have started out as members of their local riding club and so it is important that we can encourage volunteers to help out at the many shows and events that take part throughout the year to enable grass roots riders and owners, young and old, to further their knowledge and take part in competitions.”

BRC Team Leader and Volunteer Co-Ordinator, Laura Sanger, is delighted to have HorseHage on board to help support BRC’s fabulous volunteers. “Without volunteers, BRC could not exist as it does. We rely on them to run all of our competitions, both locally and nationally and they also give up a huge amount of time to keep their clubs functioning. HorseHage is a well-known, quality brand and it’s great to have the opportunity to work with them.”

Posted in HorseHage News by admin.

Free Product Training For Retailers!

Did you know we offer a free product training scheme for outlets selling HorseHage and Mollichaff products?

The HorseHage & Mollichaff Stockist Training Programme, which is available to all HorseHage and Mollichaff stockists, allows members of staff to expand and refresh their knowledge of the whole HorseHage and Mollichaff range, providing them with the information they require to answer customers’ product and feed enquiries. All retailers completing the training questionnaires correctly will receive a free framed certificate and a HorseHage and Mollichaff branded ‘Feed Adviser ‘polo shirt.

Staff Training Certificate and Feed Advisor's shirt

Said Jo Anning of Mole Avon Town & Country Stores, Axminster: “The training I received and completed on the Horsehage/Mollichaff range went into great depth and has given me a much deeper knowledge of their products, which, in turn, helps me advise our customers on the best feed for their horses. I would highly recommend it to anybody.”

If you or your staff would like to participate, please visit click on ‘Contact’ at the top to access the Trade Page. There are four staff training questionnaires which can be downloaded, printed off, completed and forwarded to your licensed producer for assessment.

Said Chris Tar, of HorseHage: “If retail outlet staff are knowledgeable about the products they are selling, it gives customers a lot more confidence when making a decision about which products to purchase.”

Our equine feed advisors are also on hand to give expert advice on feeding to both retailers and horse owners – just call our Helpline on 01803 527257.

Posted in HorseHage MolliChaff Training by admin.