Opinion

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Congratulations to all the winners of awards presented at the recent British Breeders’ dinner and especially to (an unsuspecting) Lynne Crowden, who was awarded the Meritoire Lifetime Achievement Award, a secret until revealed on the night. It has taken Lynne — and her husband Dave — more than 25 years of hard work to win this award. I suspect — horses being what they are — the pair will have literally spent blood (stood-on feet, fingers bitten by door catches), sweat (mucking out, running around chasing loose horses) and I imagine plenty of tears (of joy, sadness and frustration), as well as having some fun along the way.

There is no getting away from it: if you want to breed successful horses you are in for a long-term, sometimes heartbreaking project, especially if you have a vision and a passion like Lynne, who continually strives to improve each generation.

I first wrote about Lynne’s Woodlander Stud around 15 years ago when the then just-getting-to-be-known stud was based on a not exactly horse-friendly Welsh hillside, after a longish drive down a narrow, not exactly horsebox-friendly road. Not even those dark wet Welsh winters in the middle of nowhere could dim Lynne’s enthusiasm and energy, which has proved so infectious and brought in many others to the cause.

A fabulous, friendly host, she has always been incredibly generous with her time, hospitality and knowledge, hosting the stallion shows and training young breeders for example, all of which is amazing considering she also has a “proper”’ job. And of course, she has bred some extremely successful horses and stallions.

Trisha Rickards, who won the H&H award for Faerie Dazzler, the outstanding mare of the year, is, like Lynne, another who began breeding competition horses around 30 years ago. Trisha, however, breeds on a much smaller scale, breeding horses for pleasure and others to ride and is relatively unknown outside eventing, which she has loyally supported as an owner/breeder for all that time and more.

Both of these award winners illustrate that there are no short cuts. And at times, the going will get tough. The downside of breeding and horses was also illustrated on the night with the news that Dr Patricia Turner’s four-star horse Trevidden, the winner of the Richard Matson Memorial Trophy, had died just a few days before the event.

Bred by Preci-Spark and bought by Patricia as a four-year-old, Trevidden was ninth at Burghley with Izzy Taylor in his first four-star and ended the year as the highest placed British-bred in the 2017 World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) rankings. Hopes were high for 2018. Oh yes, breeding and owning horses is tough and awards hard won.

Looking ahead

I am looking forward to the stallion show at Addington in February. It is much easier to be enthusiastic about stallions at the right time of the year — when one is thinking about breeding.

Mid-February feels about right so I hope a) the weather doesn’t scupper the occasion, b) the hard work pays off for the new organisers, and c) there are lots of proper stallions for us to ponder.

Ref Horse & Hound; 18 January 2018