Meet the Barn: A Full Yard of Twenty Horses
Our yard is located in Borris, County Carlow which is fairly convenient with plenty of events and shows within 1-2 hours. Ireland is so small you could be anywhere in a few hours — if you are able to navigate narrow winding roads and make the most of minimal signage. Motorways (interstates) are far less common than in the US, and the smaller roads are not always well marked. Navigating Ireland is more a matter of heading from one village to the next to the next, and voila, you arrive at your destination, and if not, you call someone who has been there before, and they point you in the right direction.
We are 10 minutes from Goresbridge Horse Sales, Ireland's largest sport horse auction, which is fairly dangerous unless you are able to keep your hands in your pocket. There are always tempting types and in September the top three year olds always bring prices to match, and in the excitement you'd be afraid to own something if you scratched your nose. I keep my hands under my seat, and definitely avoid eye contact with the auctioneer — sure fire way to own something quick! Next week is their March sale and we have a few horses entered, two that belong to customers and one that belongs to Donnacha's father. I always look forward to seeing what horses are around, and at the October Sale last fall I came home with a colt foal by Harlequin du Carel, Tom Tom is now the youngest member of Ballytiglea Equine. My former US employer, Geoff Nichols, and I own a four year old together by Golden Master, out of a Maltstriker x King of Diamonds mare, he was bred just down the road at Slyguff Stud so didn't have to come far to join us. Another two four year old geldings at the farm belong to Geoff & Joanie,
one by Golden Master and another by the same sire as Trading Aces, Coevers Diamond Boy and out of a Master Imp mare. Both are just broken and will get a bit of an education in Ireland before heading to the Nichols' in the US with their new pilot, my good friend Ashley Adams. The Nichols sourced piles of fabulous horses and ponies in Ireland over the last 10 years, but this is the first time they've bought unbroken three year olds and left them to be produced in Ireland — it should be a fun new venture for all of us.
The first event of the year is a one day on Saturday at a place called Monart, about 30 minutes south of us near a village called Enniscorthy. I am riding one horse for his first time out, a six year old named Rio that I own myself. He was broken late as a five year-old last year and a bit green but I think a lot of him and it should be an exciting year. He's by Master Imp, who sired four horses in the London Olympics, and out of a Glidawn Diamond x Coevers mare, so he's a proper old fashioned Irish bred with all the right qualities and a super brain, but not without his quirks!
Next month there will be a few others to get their feet wet for the first time in 2013 — I am especially looking forward to getting back out with two seven year olds that I started eventing last season. Both took to eventing quickly and finished the season with a 1-2 finish in the 5/6 yo CNC* at Ballinaclough in Waterford, a CNC* is the equivalent of a US Preliminary level event. These two needed a bit more time to get fit as they only came in from the field after our wedding a month ago. Both were turned out after the last event of the year in October, and shortly after I headed off to Wellington to work for Irish showjumper Andrew Bourns for three months in the off season (also to trade rain for a bit of sunshine!). The horses enjoyed a well- deserved break and now we're back in action and ready to roll.
The first seven year old is a lovely big gelding, Sacramento, who is by Passion & owned by Silvia Hoffstetter of Switzerland
who has been a great supporter of my husband Donnacha and now kindly let me have the ride, sorry Donnacha! The second is another big and rangy seven year-old, Slyguff Golden Ambition, who is owned by Barbara Hatton of Slyguff Stud. He is by one of her newer stallions, Golden Master, who is a son of Master Imp. Slyguff is a bit of an Irish legend as the home of stallions Master Imp, King of Diamonds, Imperius, & Highland King — Syguff is traditional Irish breeding in the truest form, breeding world-class show jumping and event horses for the past thirty years. You don't have to look far to find Slyguff breeding in any part of the world, but beyond that it's a humble place with happy horses minded like children and the kindest of people.
Things are starting to take shape over here and thanks to Donnacha, we have a very busy yard with 20 horses total between
the two of us. With only Donnacha and I doing the riding and mucking out, there is no danger of anyone lacking work, horses to ride, or suffering from boredom. The first few weeks post-wedding did not see a drop of rain, nothing short of an Irish miracle I am certain! But all is right in the world again and it's not only wet here but we have had plenty of snow. Yesterday we took poor Rio off cross-country schooling in a proper blizzard, so we are ready for anything Saturday!