Aiming high

By: Horse Deals

Aiming high
Looking to the future: North Brook End Stud is sticking to a breeding plan

Horse Deals visits North Brook
End Stud in Cambridgeshire,
a powerful force in producing competition prospects to rival
the continentals

With the focus on breeding youngstock with established parentage, correct conformation and trainable temperaments to produce successful competition prospects for the future, Douglas Harrison and Sarah Backhouse are right on track.

"Our aim is to breed and produce quality sport horses that are capable of competing on an equal footing with those bred on the continent," says Sarah.

Set in 25 acres of well-maintained post-and-rail pasture, North Brook End Stud in Steeple Morton, originally a traditional arable and livestock Cambridgeshire farm, has been updated to provide five- star facilities.

The courtyard complex features 22 stables and three foaling boxes, with CCTV, together with an arena and horse walker, next to miles of peaceful bridlepaths.

It is the ideal location for a livery and training yard and this established operation also offers a bespoke equine sales service to match horse and rider.

"We’ve sold a number of young horses to Ireland, as many of our mares are well-bred Irish Sports Horses and a good Irish horse is a valuable asset. Banbury Sky, by Verdi out of Solitaire Skyway, sold to Ireland last year as a weanling," explains Sarah.

"Young horses are all exciting, as you never know what they’re going to be. I’d like to think that Solitaire Sun will be a good horse — he’s out of my favourite mare, so I suppose I’d like him to be a superstar, but you just don’t know. Ava Louella’s a classy filly and although she’s hot, she has a fabulous approach to life.

"Our horses are for sale and that what we breed them for. You can’t keep all of them, especially if we’re to continue developing plans for the expansion of the facilities."

The dedicated team at North Brook End includes Richard Davies, who is responsible for the welfare of the mares and foals throughout the year, while Angie Jones, who previously worked at Cambridge Vet school, has been has been a valuable member of staff for past two years.

Douglas and Sarah are responsible for the early production of the stars of the future. Douglas, who has a proven track record in show jumping at national and international level, has also produced future Burghley and Badminton entries.

Young prospects from North Brook End Stud, such as the top show jumper Cottage Prince, will usually go on to be ridden by Nigel Coupe.

The stud also features a dedicated insemination unit and the team works closely with Royston-based Tyrells Equine Clinic, which provides the professional care for AI and the mare and foal work.

"We cover some of our mares naturally and others by AI. It depends on the stallion we’re using and the mare’s reproductive history," explains Sarah, a DEFRA approved AI technician, who, as a registered BHSAI and lecturer at Shuttleworth College, also competes in eventing. "Initially we used AI to increase the genetic pool of our horses by using stallions from overseas. We hope one of our three-year-olds, Solitaire Sun, will be good enough to keep entire and go for grading in 2010.

"I’ve always wanted to have the best horses I could afford, but increasingly such horses are difficult to come by. I was lucky enough to have some super, well-bred mares, so breeding seemed like the obvious way forward.

"All our mares have been selected on proven ability, conformation, movement and temperament," adds Sarah. "People might say they’re all of a certain stamp and maybe this is true. They all seem to be of a super disposition and brave and bold. Luckily, many of our foals seem to be mirroring these attributes."

Standing at stud is the 17hh six-year-old Oldenburger Temple Claudius by the Contender stallion Careful out of a Lauriston mare. This talented young stallion was AES-approved and licensed as a three-year-old and registered two years later. He jumped four double clears in the Foxhunter second rounds.

"His fabulous movement, jump and conformation, combined with easy temperament, will hopefully make him a good choice for many mares," says Sarah.
Show jumping is very much at the forefront of this successful operation.

"Our main interest is in producing jumping horses, but because many of the top stallions move exceptionally well, if you use a mare with proven dressage bloodlines, you’re as likely to get a dressage horse as a jumper," says Sarah.

"Many of our youngsters have Quidam De Revel in their breeding, as well the modern stallion Eurocommerce Zurich, by Berlin. Other stallions that often crop up in our horses’ pedigrees are Concorde, Comeback II and Lord Z.

"The qualities I look for in a stallion are primarily associated with the long-term soundness of the horses we breed, so conformation is critical and conformation links to movement and movement to performance — at least that’s in theory, although it not always in practice! Of course many other aspects are critical, such as performance and temperament, but that surely goes without saying."

North Brook End is home to 16 broodmares, some of which have previously been competed by Douglas and Sarah, while other were purchased with the intention of breeding.

"Temperament is a primary consideration, as well as rideability," says Sarah. "We want to breed horses that like to work and do so happily. When I’m looking for myself, what horses do in their own time is up to them, but when it comes to breeding stock you don’t know who may want to buy them, so a smiley horse is always going to sell before a grumpy old thing!"

Despite the serious business, what shines through about North Brook End Stud is a laid back atmosphere and a sense of fun.
"We are looking forward to an exciting future here, but our main hope is that our yard is enjoyed by everyone who visits us," explains Sarah.

For more information, contact North Brook End Stud yard (01763 853784); Douglas (07759 840418); Sarah (07887 908181) or visit