By Samantha Winn

Samantha Winn of Keith, got more than she bargained for when she took on a welfare-case Clydesdale gelding, with the pet name of Sam. Here is her story…

'It all began when I contacted Stephanie Slater (a complete and utter stranger to me) in August 2016 by recommendation from our mutual friend, Lucy Moir, asking if she would be willing to compete my 12-year-old Clydesdale gelding, ‘Bulwark Bay’ (Sam) for the following 2017 show season for around 10 shows.

I purchased Sam as an unbacked three-year-old from George Skinner, of Strathorn, to be a happy hacker, just for fun! Due to Sam being a welfare case as a yearling he would not make it as a show horse and therefore would suit me grand. This, however, was clearly not the case and he is continually proving himself under saddle.

It started in 2008 after a good friend and colleague at the time thought she would take him to New Deer Show as a ridden Clydesdale, which resulted in Sam qualifying for Blair Atholl's ridden Clydesdale championship where he picked up a respectable third place.

As a ridden Clydesdale, his greatest successes have been in 2012 when he picked up the reserve championship at Blair Atholl's ridden Clydesdale championship and to follow went reserve champion ridden Clydesdale at the Royal Highland Show in 2013. That was topped off with taking reserve supreme horse at Banchory Show – always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Unfortunately, due to the class at RHS changing to become a HOYS qualifier he could no longer compete as a ridden Clydesdale at RHS due to the Clydesdale Horse Society refusing to register an aged gelding, even if he was DNA tested, so the only way to compete him at the Highland Show was to see if CHAPS UK would accept him as a coloured due to him being white in the correct places – and they did!

So ‘Team S’ set off for RHS 2017 and picked up ninth place in a strong class of coloured horses. To add to this success they have had a tremendous season so far picking up numerous firsts as both ridden Clydesdale classes and ridden coloureds and in working hunters.

They took supreme at Findon Riding Club (as a Clydesdale), champion coloured at New Deer Show, champion ridden at Northern Working Horse Society Show at Brodie, and section champion at Stonehaven Area's riding club contest at Brechin.

On top of this, he also likes to jump – we have been successful at working hunter classes this show season and to top it off we went to the BS Sunshine tour at the Cabin Equestrian Centre, in July, where we ended up going double clear and picking up fifth place in a strong class of showjumpers.

Recently, at Turriff Show, he has put the icing on the cake by winning a large ridden CHAPS class, took the coloured championship and to top it all off picked up overall ridden supreme at the show.

What a partnership we have had!

For the rest of this season, ‘Team S’ intends to continue competing in ridden Clydesdale classes and ridden coloured class and then keep him ticking over the winter with some dressage. He has qualified for the ridden Clydesdale championship at Blair where he will also be doing working hunter and CHAPS class.

People often ask me is there nothing he can’t do …. The partnership that we have is utterly unbelievable. Collecting numerous championships as they have done this season is some achievement.

That feeling I get at the side lines when we are picked, if I could bottle it I’d me a millionaire.

I am forever grateful for Steph for taking on the ride as I am aware that this is not her normal type of horse, jumping is where her heart lies. It was meant to be for around 10 showing shows but I think we have slightly exceed that now.

My motto is that he’s not going to be around forever so let’s make the most of him.

I know for sure there will never be another Sam. He truly is a horse of a lifetime.

Just goes to show how versatile this Clydesdale really is. No large amounts of money spent on buying the horse, home produced, ninth year on the show circuit, an amazing track record and it is all just for fun.'