New SEIB partnership gets underway by netting viral video

By Jenny Viner

SEIB Insurance Brokers have announced a new partnership with ex-international show-jumper and television producer and stylist, Alex Osborn of The Old Manor Stables in Worcestershire. Alex’s media expertise is helping build the profile of SEIB’s sponsorship of the prestigious SEIB Winter Novice Showjumping championship and the SEIB Search for a Star amateur showing series through a series of short social media videos that highlight the action behind the scenes, that both equestrians, and those that have never sat on a horse, can relate to.

In one of the first of these videos, the purely ecstatic reaction of one Search for a Star competitor realizing she and her beloved horse had qualified for HOYS was captured on camera and turned, by Alex, into a viral media sensation reaching two-million people on social media.

To celebrate the great start to the partnership and his showjumping heritage, Alex recently represented SEIB in presenting the prizes for the SEIB Winter Novice showjumping championship in the main Hickstead international arena at the Royal International Horse Show.

Now a keen showing competitor – and ex-international showjumper and Search for a Star exhibitor – Alex said: “I am very proud to be working with SEIB. People love to see relatable content on their social media channels. If through what we are doing we can help people feel more positive about themselves and to take on challenges to learn and improve with their horses then we will have achieved our goal. I thrive on talking to people, finding out about what is important to them and encouraging and guiding and telling the human, compassionate, story.”

Search for a Star is unique in the horse world as the competition is run by a company, equine insurance business, SEIB Insurance Brokers. The company set the series up back in 1996 to give amateur riders the chance to compete on the big stage. Search for a Star has gone from strength to strength in this time and in this season alone nearly 1,000 aspiring amateur competitors have come forward to compete for the chance to qualify themselves and their beloved horses for the finals at Horse of the Year Show and Your Horse Live in the autumn.

SEIB’s marketing manager and Search for a Star founder, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “As we all know, social license is such a burning issue in the horse world and through these videos Alex is creating we are putting positive, real life, content out there which is reaching an absolutely incredible number of people. The amazing partnerships people have with their horses is being truly celebrated.”

Alex joins long-standing SEIB brand ambassador Hannah Horton in representing the company. Professional showing producer Hannah has had many victories at the top end of the sport with several HOYS and Royal International titles to her name. Hannah has a role in Search for a Star mentoring and ride judging for the series. With his top-level showjumping experience combined with now competing at county level showing, Alex is in-tune with the trials and tribulations of those that compete in showing and show jumping as a hobby and will highlight both the highs and the lows through his videos.

It is this importance put on the human touch that enabled Alex to turn from successful young-showjumper to a career in television. He explained: “I was so very lucky to get into horses and then jumping when I was younger. At fourteen I competed in my first foxhunter and went on to be on both gold and bronze medal winning English showjumping teams in Home International competitions in my early twenties. Having competed at both HOYS and the Royal International, I feel I can identify with the emotions people experience in qualifying for these big level competitions.”

After a horror fall resulting in a broken back, Alex stepped back from the horses and turned his attention elsewhere. On a stint working as cabin crew for an airline, his manner with the passengers was noticed by executive producer for the Des O’Connor tv show, Kay Palmer. Alex continued: “Kay gave me her card and said to come and see her in two weeks when she was back from her holiday. To cut a long story short, I was introduced to Des O’Connor and this landed me a job as a celebrity co-ordinator, meeting and greeting and guiding celebrities at the Teddington Studios.” From this, roles came about for Alex at Freemantle TV and Cosmopolitan and OK Magazines.

Stints in New Zealand, Los Angeles and France followed but the horses always beckoned for Alex and the opportunity to set up Prestwood Competition Stables in West Sussex was too much to turn down. Alex subsequently bought Golden Cross Equestrian Centre in East Sussex which he successfully ran with partner Craig McClelland for seven years. Alex explained: “Golden Cross was such a massive challenge, I quickly realised that the grassroots competitors is where my heart is. We put on some fun shows and the feedback was simply phenomenal. We got so much out of welcoming competitors, helping, guiding and supporting – our Christmas fancy dress show were always mega!”

At the end of 2017, Alex and Craig – a former master of the Southdown and Eridge Hunt – dipped their toe into showing with their coloured cob, Dollar Boy. A half season in 2017 resulted in qualification for RIHS and Alex was truly bitten by the showing bug. Cobs, Oxford Blue and Randalstown Columbo joined Alex in 2018 and 2019 resulting in wins on the county circuit, appearances at Royal International and their HOYS showing debut in 2019.

Alex and Craig moved to The Old Manor Stables in Worcestershire in 2021. The start of the 2022 season saw a new project, in the shape of young riding horse, KBF London Town, currently being produced by Jayne Ross. Out of prolific riding horse winner, Berkeley Square and bred by Michael Cook and Tony Reynolds, this grey four-year-old known as Lion has a great future ahead of him.

Alex added: “I am very excited to be working with SEIB and helping bring the stories behind the pictures of success to life in our wonderful sport. Horses, and our dogs, mean the world to me and anything that can be done to help support, include and celebrate these partnerships is time very well spent.” Alex is also patron of Hector’s Greyhound Rescue in Aberystwyth.

Image: Nicolina MacKenzie and Alex presenting the SEIB Winter Novice championship at Hickstead 2022 to Nicole Pavitt and Colliers Carlotta (photo credit: Julian Portch)

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