One of the best-known progeny of the stallion Mill Law is Coopers Law (Spider), ridden by Emilie Chandler. But what many people don’t realise yet is that he has two full siblings, a five-year-old called Poppys Law (Poppy) and a three-year-old named Coopers Mill (Web). All three are out of a mare called Miss Cooper.

“My aunt, Nicola Dickson, bought Miss Cooper as a four-year-old to hunt and produce to event having had her old event horse put down,” says Sally Williams.

“She had just come over from Ireland and was green, but she liked her genuine attitude and jump. She didn’t pay a lot of attention to her breeding as it was not something we knew much about or had ever considered before!

Miss Cooper was a kind, straightforward, trainable mare, but her career came to a premature end when a field accident left her unable to be ridden.

“This is when we looked into her bloodlines as we felt she was a lovely type to breed from and had been showing all the characteristics of a scopey competition horse with a lovely temperament,” say Sally.

Miss Cooper is by the registered Irish draught and Dublin show champion Kildalton Gold. He is out of Kildalton Countess (by Ben Purple), a great foundation mare of Irish breeding, who had six stallion sons. They include Diamond Lad, Gildawn Diamond and Kildalton King. Miss Coopers dam was called Quarter Blossom, by the Irish thoroughbred Teaspoon.

Sally goes on: “As we knew nothing about breeding, contacts put us in touch with the Pembridge Stud, who due to her bloodlines were keen to loan her to cover with their stallions. She had one foal with them and then came back to us in-foal to their thoroughbred stallion Shipley Diamond as their circumstances had changed. This was our first foal and where I came in — Nicky owned the mare and the breeding bit was my idea going forward!”

The foal was Cunliffe Chameleon, who was a successful junior eventer until she was put down last year. Sally and Nicola chose Mill Law for their next foal.

“We chose Mill Law as we knew [his owners] Sue [Browne] and Nicola [Baguley] and had seen him at home with them and liked his quiet temperament and the fact he had a proven competition record,” says Sally.

“We also knew that for a ‘traditional’ eventer we needed to add some more thoroughbred to our Irish draught/thoroughbred mare. Really we were just looking to breed a nice all-rounder who was easy for us to do. We got Coopers Law — beginners’ luck and the start of an expensive hobby!”

Mill Law foal

Primitive Jem with her Mill Law filly foal at 48 hours old

Coopers Law was successful in young horse classes — including being best British-bred in the four and five-year-old British Eventing Young Horse Championships — and has progressed all the way up to three-star level, competing as a member of Britain’s Nations Cup team last year.

Sally and Nicola have had foals by One More Tiger, Crown Cornelian and Cevin Z and their mare is currently in-foal to Jaguar Mail, but Sally says they “kept going back to Mill Law because the formula seems to work on our mare”.

“They are all very kind horses with lovely sociable temperaments — they live for their work and love to go out and about,” says Sally. “They know when they are in work mode or at home on holiday — they all come back home to us for the winter and live out and are ever so easy to do.

“With all the foals the boys have been tall and leggy and the girls more compact — so Spider and Web are big boys, Poppy is more ladylike and compact.”

Emilie Chandler says: “Both Spider and Poppy are correct, with three good paces and are easy to work in an outline. Everything is naturally in place for an event horse and they’ve always been straightforward and willing to a fence. They are not silly, spooky horses — they’ve always been confident in themselves.

“It’s interesting to work with a whole family — I’ve had three mares from that damline, by different stallions, and they are all quite bossy and opinionated, while the geldings are more easygoing.”

Mill Law foal X Primitive Jem

Primitive Jem with her three-day-old Mill Law filly foal

Jemilla and friends

Another breeder who has returned to Mill Law is Shelagh Morley, who bought her foundation mare, Jessica XIX, for her husband Richard to hunt — he rode her when field mastering the Belvoir for eight seasons.

“When she finished hunting we sent her to Primitive Rising, who lived just down the road,” says Shelagh.

Jessica’s first foal was Primitive Jem II, who competed under Ginny Turnbull, Stuart Buntine and Mark Kyle, finishing fifth in the CCI* at Osberton in 2009.

After another two seasons hunting, Jessica was put to Mill Law.

“By then I wanted to breed an event horse and his temperament sounded good,” says Shelagh. “My mare was a lovely middleweight type, with a neat jump, so I wanted something that was a bit lighter build and which would improve her movement as she’s a bit of a plain mover. I liked the sound of his breeding and that he had a good performance record.”

The resulting foal was Jemilla, who is now on the Irish high performance squad with Mark Kyle.

Jessica had one more foal, Jemstone, by the thoroughbred Samraan. He has been sold to Rebecca Crosbie-Starling as a potential working hunter.

In late March this year, Primitive Jem II gave birth to a filly foal by Mill Law (pictured above).

“I think it’s pretty obvious why I used Mill Law again,” says Shelagh, citing Jemilla’s temperament as well as her competition success. “She is a nice person and easy for me to look after. I’m a pensioner and I have the horses here and do a lot of the riding myself.”

Read our interview with Sue Browne and Nicola Baguley in H&H’s sport horse special, out now (issue dated 9 April).