Life lessons: Ian Boylan on patience, pot-washing and hydration

  • The in-hand show producer on the importance of patience, his obsession with breeding the best and his days as a restaurant manager.

    Ian Boylan says: “I always maintain the importance of real, honest stable management. With youngsters, it’s all about keeping them happy and content as well as injury free. All my horses go out in the field regularly and have lots of rest in between shows, with plenty of downtime and peace and quiet. I’m fanatical about deep beds, which encourages them to lie down and relax properly.

    “I treat the stallions like normal horses; they’re never segregated and everything is done to improve their general wellbeing.

    “These days, I’m more patient with my horses. When I was younger, I was so hungry to do things that I probably didn’t give some of them enough time and got carried away by my own drive. I wanted to be really good, but some animals need more time and I have learnt that you can’t push a young horse. I don’t like to see them doing too much too soon.

    “When I was a young lad and aspiring producer, Jerome Harforth of the Stanley Grange Stud was my mentor. Having worked there myself, I admired the way he could run so many good horses at once; he was one of the only producers to have a successful stud as well as separate horse and pony in-hand and ridden teams. What he has achieved is phenomenal.

    “Prior to this, I worked at the Oakley Stud and was fortunate to work with legendary stallions including Oakley Bubbling Spring. I’ve always been obsessed by bloodlines and was exposed to breeding before I really knew much about it. Now, I’m a devotee to the British Riding Pony and promoting their breeding.”

    Ensuring hydration

    “When at a show, the one thing I always do is ensure my horses are given water, and their temperatures are monitored closely throughout the day. Sometimes you see horses being compromised and it’s a pet hate of mine to see an animal obviously in need of a drink.

    “If anything looks off colour at any time, I will take their temperature; youngsters can quickly overheat when stressed, so I make sure they’re comfortable.

    “Before I step into the ring, I make sure I have the owner’s specific membership card in my pocket if it’s a qualifier; over the years, there have been a few mishaps where another handler from the team has the card I need so I always check. Finally, I always give the bridle a quick glance over as I don’t want a loose horse.

    “Once, I was showing a two-year-old colt in a championship after a big win and the next thing I knew he was trotting around the ring on his own. He was a nice character so we managed to get him back without any problem, but it was a potential nightmare!”

    Be the best

    “I come from a non-horsey background. I haven’t always worked with horses, but my mum told me always to try to be the best at whatever you do. I’ve had breaks from horses and have done various different jobs, including leading a call centre team and managing a French bistro, but this ethos has always stuck with me. In the restaurant, I began washing pots and I climbed my way up the ladder until I was manager.

    “I have a 20-year connection with the Litton Stud and they have given me the most incredible opportunities. I love all their stock and I have been fortunate enough to use their stallions.

    “I wished I’d had the chance to show their late stallion Llanarth Aristocat in his heyday. He is also the stallion who brought me and the stud together and is responsible for our friendship.”

    About Ian Boylan

    Ian Boylan is a leading show producer based in Lancashire. Specialising in in-hand production, he has won accolades at major shows across the country and is a regular face in the Cuddy in-hand supreme final at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). He won the pony section and overall reserve in 2017 with Litton Salvador.

    Ref: 21 January 2021

    You might also be interested in…