Shirley Light’s breeding blog

By: Horse Deals

Shirley Light’s breeding blog
Shirley Light’s breeding blog

I’ve got some exciting new arrivals to report! First, congratulations to top jockey Louise Pavitt and her other half and fellow show jumper David Simpson on the arrival of their little boy, Connor.

He was a few days late – we always joke that the lovely Chavvy Pavvy can’t be on time for anything. We can’t wait to have her back when the baby’s a bit older, but she and David have started training up the next generation – Connor has already been on his toy pony. We were certain that when Lou went in to have the baby she’d pack her hair straighteners to make sure she was looking her best, but when push came to shove, they were left behind!

Connor was born the day after another very special boy: my new foal. After a Thelma and Louise-type trip to Holland and Belgium looking at youngsters, my sister Jacqueline and I drove to Belgium to pick up him and his embryo transfer mum and bring them back to Brendon Stud.

His ET mum is a trotter mare , but what’s really exciting is that his real one is also the dam of the wonderful Don VHP Z, aka Paris. His dad is Elvis ter Putte, so he’s actually a three-quarters brother to Paris. He’s lovely and as you can guess, I’ve got really high hopes for him.

We went horse shopping so we could look for new bloodlines. Although we already have some of the best, to stay ahead of the game you always need to be looking for new blood. We go to big studs and to small breeders – we’ve been buying from one man for 20 years.

You see some funny old sights going round the Belgian and Dutch farms. One of the funniest ones this time was a yearling being tied to a mare so they could bring him in for loose jumping – and yes, I bought that one!

It’s tough for all breeders at the moment, but the good ones shine through. I think most people now realise that you get what you pay for and whilst there’s the odd exception, if you buy a horse for peanuts, the odds are that it will be a monkey.

Although we do sell a few unbacked youngsters, we don’t do much with our two and three-year-olds – so on the whole, I’d rather wait until they’re ridden before offering them for sale. If we do it ourselves, we know it’s been done properly: I like to have them popping fillers and a water tray, so you know you’re on the right track.

I’ve also been buying chickens. It started with the idea that they’d be pets for Granny Val and the grandchildren, but they become addictive. They’re comical little things and we’ve even got some that lay blue eggs.

The weather has been so cold and revolting that the mares have all been crossing their legs and hanging on to their babies. As I write, there are still around 13 to come.

It seems to be a year for colts, but the girls may yet fight back. All the owners who sent their mares to us have been delighted with their new arrivals and there are some cracking looking babies out there.