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Billy Twomey’s top tips to get the best out of talented mares

The Irish Olympic showjumper explains how he has got the best out of some of the tricky, yet extremely talented, mares he has ridden during his career so far in an exclusive interview on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast...

Top Irish showjumper Billy Twomey has enjoyed success at the highest level with a number of mares during his career, including his London Olympics ride Tinka’s Serenade, who he describes in this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast as “probably the best horse I ever had”.

“The mares have been very successful for me. I seem to have a good rapport with them, especially maybe the trickier mares,” says Billy.

As well as giving Billy some of his most successful rides, including winning the Top 10 final in Paris 2011 and finishing 10th in the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, Tinka’s Serenade was the horse that started a long and successful business relationship between the Irish rider and British breeder Kim Barzilay.

“We started with Tinka’s Serenade some years ago now. She’d already been really successful with [Kim’s rider] Emma-Jo Slater and Kim wanted the horse to go to the next level. She asked would I be interested in riding the mare for her and taking her to some international shows. She ended up having a super career. She’s probably the best horse I ever had.”

Next came another chestnut mare, Lizziemary.

“Lizziemary was a very successful mare who went on to win the King George at Hickstead and was sold to Dani Goldstein, who has had a lot of success with her.”

And earlier in his career came Anastasia, who Billy describes as “a little difficult horse, but in the end she finished by being very, very successful”.

So what does Billy put his success with mares down to?

“I think patience is the right word for these mares. You’ve got to be patient with them – it doesn’t have to happen immediately. If you know you’ve got the goods underneath you, you know in time it will come your way, so give them the time to show you what they’ve got.

“Tinka’s Serenade was not the easiest mare in the world, but she had an unbelievable career and finished jumping at the age of 19, which is nearly unheard of, so she stayed healthy and competitive for such a long period.”

Continued below…



Billy believes there is “quite a lot of truth” in the old adage that you can tell a gelding, but you have to ask a mare…

“[The key] is managing them in the correct way. All horses are different. Anastasia was ridiculously careful and she needed to build up confidence to get to a situation where she was sure she could jump the biggest classes so she took time to produce. Tinka’s Serenade was a bit special – she could be naughty at times so she needed encouragement in the right way, but when she got to a certain age the naughtiness disappeared and she just got on with her job.”

And Billy’s successful relationships with mares look set to continue as among his current string he has Anastasia’s daughter Pewit Nono, by his great stallion Luidam, who Billy has high hopes for in the future, and Lady Lou, who he was jumping in Florida over the winter.

“I like to think I can deal with the difficult mares and I can meet them half way and try to get the best out of them, but that’s what you try with every horse – stallion, gelding or mare,” says Billy.

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