I blame it all on my mother. She always used to take me to feed bread to the ponies at the bottom of our road as a child. I came from a family with no horsey connections at all but I got the bug and that was it.
As a child I used to scrounge a ride where ever I could and was most envious of those who had a pony. I even recall sneaking off to the local farm in the dark when I was about 8 years old and stealing bareback rides on the ponies in the field which were there on livery! I used to go to Royal Cornwall with my great- aunt and uncle who showed cattle and that was how my showing career began, with Guernsey cows. I used to enviously watch the children with their ponies on Saturday and never did I imagine that I would one day compete there myself, let alone win several times and even take a championship.
From there I progressed to borrowing an old pony when I was 11 or so. I would cycle the 5 miles before school just so that I could ride and then cycle 5 miles to school! Polly was replaced by her owner with pony in time and I progressed to gymkhanas. I recall hacking to one which was almost 8 miles each way. Bearing in mind that this was when most people just did not have transport for ponies. However, there was one girl called Susan; how we all envied her. She had a trailer and two pretty ponies which won everything.
When I left school I disappointed my parents by not going on to further education and university. I went to work in racing stables. That was a tough life. From there I went to work in a riding school which was where I got my first pony, Tiffany. I hunter trialled her a lot and, as I was 17, we had to compete in the adult section; they always laughed at me with my 14hh pony but she usually wiped the smiles off their faces with her speed. I also used to show jump her, competing against adults who complained that it wasn’t fair because Tiffany could turn so quickly indoors, being smaller. I did point out that she had to work harder over the jumps as she was so much smaller. Tiffany then turned her hoof to Pony Racing at which she excelled.
I got into breeding and showing after buying an in foal Welsh B mare in 1982. I kept ponies at livery for about 10 years and had some success locally. I went solo in 1992 and bought my current property. The first Roseview foal was by the great Mollegaards Spartacus in 1994. The same year also saw the first Riding Pony foal, Playboy (by the fabulous sire of ponies, Orielton Aristocrat). The stud began to get noticed in 1995 when 3 new ponies joined us. Horsegate Pipit was bought unseen. She is still here today, aged 26. She won numerous medals for me, many county shows and supreme championships. She wasn’t the best broodmare, only having two foals. This, I believe, is due to the Cushings (or EMS) she developed. Shortly after buying Pipit, Seaholm Dusk joined the stud. She was another big winner for us, this time under saddle with a variety of jockeys, the first one being Gemma Trevenna, Colby Stud. She was impossible to get in foal but I loved her. Dusky was retired with her long term friend, Pipit and was PTS in 2007, aged 21.
The best Welsh broodmare for the stud was Knighton Lucy Locket, bought in 1997, after I had acquired her first son, Eastleigh Amadeus, the previous year as my first stallion. Lucy had it all. Every foal she had was a champion and she herself won at major National and County shows. Eastleigh Amadeus only covered a few mares and was then gelded in 2000 as he hadn’t grown big enough. Six weeks later I took him to Royal Cornwall as an M&M LR, just for fun. He won the class and qualified for HOYS!
Riding ponies had always been a passion of mine and I bought Erimus Morning Jewel as a yearling in 1995. She was a consistent winner, in hand and under saddle. The Riding Pony mare Twylands Olivia was bought, again unseen, in 1998 and really put us on the map. I took her to Stithians that year with her foal and she took the Supreme championship. She went on to breed two more foals, Limited Edition and Exclusive. Roseview Limited Edition has gone on to the greatest of heights as a top 148cm SP, qualifying for HOYS every year since 2006 and being placed every year bar the first. His best result was last year when he was second there, although winning the Royal International in 2007 came close. That was the highlight of my life as a breeder, seeing one of my babies in the main ring at HOYS under the lights. Exclusive looked likely to follow in his footsteps but, tragically, had to be PTS due to illness as a 6yo.
I have always been happy to buy unknown ponies and make my own mark with them in the ring. I showed barren mares back in the days when they were unpopular. I have always taken the view when breeding that I’d rather travel hundreds of miles to use the stallion I wanted rather than take the easy option. Perhaps that is why I never really bred very many ponies (18 ponies in 16 years) but I can never see the point in breeding to something because it happened to be handy by. I have aimed for bone and the ‘old fashioned’ type with the Welsh and, thinking about it, with the riding ponies I guess it was the same. Not for me the spindly legs of some.
If asked what advice I would give newcomers it would be to learn from others and never be afraid to ask for advice. Don’t breed just for the sake of it or to suit the fashion, stick to your own ideals. Remember that you have to live with the ponies you have got, so make sure you have got the ones you really like to look at in your field. Let your ponies be ponies first and show animals second.
I like to think that Roseview ponies are known primarily for their kind, genuine temperaments; this has been achieved by firm but kind handling from an early age and by allowing them freedom to be ponies. They have always lived ‘au natural’ in the winter and get daily, if not 24/7, turnout in the summer, even getting turned out as soon as they get off the lorry on show days.
The stud was dispersed in 2004 when I divorced and most of the ponies went to new homes, all except the oldies. It was reformed in 2007 with the ‘Golden Girls’, the palomino B’s and we have had great fun with them, including winning the breed championship and WPCS silver medal at Royal Cornwall in 2010, as well being in the final 8 of the Cuddy judging there. However, I have taken the decision to go judging so the stud has now been wound down.
You can enjoy reading more about Heather’s judging experiences on her blog, click here to read her first installment.