Brownie (Warford Brown Sugar)

Brownie has a competitive record that is much bigger than he is, having competed in dressage and showing before turning his hoof to driving. To the right are just a few of his major achievements – if all his wins and placings were listed then this would be a very long page!

In 2002 Brownie (and Blackie) were rescued from being sent to the slaughterhouse by Linda and her husband John, who spotted them in their field and recognised their hidden potential. Although they were completely wild and unhandled stallions, there was something about them that compelled Linda and John to persuade the owner to sell them for a little more than the slaughterhouse price.

Although everyone thought Linda was mad to take on two small hooligans, they were all very quickly won over by the ponies’ charm and strength of character. Once tame enough to touch, their training progressed and within a few months they were being ridden.

Once Brownie was broken to ride, Mike’s younger brother Rick became one of his biggest fans. Together he and Brownie won countless rosettes and trophies, including a number of Wilmslow Riding Club season championships several years in a row. He competed in dressage with both Anna as a senior and Rick as a junior, qualifying for the Trailblazers Finals at both levels in 2007, and again in 2009. Although Rick eventually outgrew him, Anna didn’t, and she carried on competing him up to Elementary level! His highest dressage score to date is 72.2% at a qualifier.

However, Brownie’s ridden achievements were soon exceeded by his driving ones! After a year of being ridden Brownie turned his hoof to carriage driving with the help of friend Janet Dines. He took to it like a duck to water, and really seems to have been born to drive. Linda drove him at several club events with Mike backstepping, before he eagerly took over the reins. His first National title quickly followed, along with selection for the England Junior squad, and the rest is history…

Together, Mike and Brownie took countless national and international titles, representing their country twice together. Both he and Mike grew in confidence at a rate of knots, and they were one of the most popular combinations to watch through the obstacles at every event. Commentators seemed to adore our little pocket rocket, with one memorable commentator in Austria whooping with glee every time the ‘Super Shettie’ appeared in the arena! Always a character, for much of his career it could be argued that Brownie was more well known than Mike!

Throughout 2011 – 2013 Brownie was to be found competing as a pair or in tandem with Pumpkin and Blackie, enthusiastically leading the team, or being driven as a single by Linda. His love of being driven is apparent to all who watch him – as the stewards count down at the start of Section E on the marathon he will be demonstrating his piaffe, desperate to get into the obstacles. He usually leads the team through an obstacle as if he has walked them himself, and Anna swears that he knows the sequence of letters, having watched from the top step as he has gone through the correct gate even without Mike telling him to!

Today Brownie is reveling in his new role as a teacher to the youngsters, joining them as a pair or a tandem to help them learn the ropes. Linda has managed to regain the box seat behind him for club level competitions, and she is even starting to branch out into a bit of tandem herself! In 2013 Linda and Brownie were the single pony champions of the CHDTG indoor series, frequently winning the dressage section with the best score of the day.

When he’s not in the shafts, Brownie also works with the Mid Cheshire Riding for the Disabled, being ridden by children at the charity’s base, New Barn Livery. He is a firm favourite with his young jockeys, especially those who enjoy a bouncy trot! It is a testament to his character that he can switch easily between the ‘fast and furious’ of driving trials to a gentle walk around the arena with a special needs rider. He seems to have a good understanding of his job, whichever one he happens to be doing at the time!