I’M originally from England but have a home in Stonehall, Crossmolina, Co Mayo, and run a family business outside of horses.

I’ve had an interest in horses all my life but only got into horses a few years ago when I met my neighbour Des McDonnell. My partner wanted a few Irish Draughts and I wanted a few jumping-bred horses.

Our first broodmare was a mare we still havem Lucy De (Mermus R x King Henry) that we purchased from her and Emme’s breeder John McDonnell.

1. Congratulations, you qualified at Athlone Show in the show jumping section for The Irish Field Breeders’ Championship at Dublin with Emme and her colt foal. Tell us more about the pair.

Emme is a 10-year-old mare by Voss x Zama, by Quattro B. She was bred by John McDonnell and produced by Johnathon McDonnell and Sonja Ochadlik, of Stonehall Stud, up to 1.40m Grand Prix level.

We had a great time watching her jumping at shows from local agricultural shows as a three-year-old to show jumping across the country. Once she reached that level, we retired her sound to breed from her full-time. We took one embryo (by Jardonnay VDL) off her while she was still competing in 2020.

John and Des brought Emme’s dam Zama over from England. She competed to 1.20m herself before becoming a broodmare but has lines going back to 1.60m horses. Emme’s maternal half-brother is a HSI-Preliminary Approved stallion: SHS Quattro Cruise. He is owned and also produced by Johnathon and Sonja.

Des and John have a few offspring from Zama themselves; it’s a very good family line. Emme’s half-sister Manhattan’s Little Angel and full-sisters Emzo and Ladie Finess, have also jumped on with Johnathon before becoming broodmares and their foals have sold well. For example, Manhattan’s Little Angels colt by Jardonnay VDL topped the Mayo Roscommon Breeders’ Group foal sale.

Emme’s foal this year is by Hardrock Z, we are delighted with him. He shows athleticism, extravagant, balanced movement and has a great personality. He is definitely one for the future.

2. What’s your aim as a breeder?

I have an interest in performance horses but our breeding programme is still new. We’ve kept a lot of the fillies on as broodmares and are hoping to keep a few of the colts for producing on but they are all under three right now. We hope to have as good a time watching them as we did watching Emme.

We also breed and have a very keen interest in Irish Draughts. We have the 2016 RDS winner Clew Bay Countess (Clew Bay Bouncer - Ballintaffy Lady, by Grosvenor Lad) as a broodmare. Her Moylough Legacy foal from last year won the filly foal and was reserve champion foal at the RDS.

Graham bought Clew Bay Countess at a wedding, where Des was also a guest. He walked into the wedding with no horse and out with one. As you do!

3. Favourite bloodlines?

Emme’s sire is Voss (Voltaire x Animo). Myself and the McDonnells have really liked all the Voss offspring, they’re all quality types with great minds.

We also have a broodmare Queen Quality (OBOS Quality). She was our first foal, born on my partner Graham’s birthday so we can’t part with her! All her foals are lovely, scopey types.

4. What’s your view on prefixes?

If the breeder applies a prefix, especially a registered prefix, it should not be able to be removed. I think any name changes should have to be approved by the breeder.

Emme in action at Balmoral 2021 with Sonja Ochadlik \ Prime Photography

5. How many mares do you currently have?

Our jumping-bred broodmares are Emme (Voss x Quattro B), Queen Quality (OBOS Quality x Mermus R), Lucy De (Mermus R x King Henry), and Flavy Du Cerisier (Indoctro x Bordeaux VDL).

We also have the home-bred Darcy’s Girl (Cohinoor VDL - Lucy De) and hope to use her as a broodmare in the future.

Our Irish Draught mares are Clew Bay Countess (Clew Bay Bouncer x Grosvenor Lad) and Darcie’s Girl (Hollypark Diamond x Fast Silver).

6. Describe your regime for keeping mares/youngstock.

Our horses are out all summer. We have a few fields that we rotate grazing in and so that horses are separated by age. The horses are kept in for the most part for winter. Typically the weanlings and broodmares are kept in but sometimes the youngsters are left out. If they do live out, they are rugged up and live in well-sheltered paddocks with access to a round bale 24/7. All our horses are regularly handled, wormed, trimmed etc.

7. If you could have bred any horse?

If I could have bred any horse, it would be Heather Honey. I know she is from the past but for her size, she was a very impressive mare with a huge heart.

8. It takes a team - who is on yours?

My neighbour Des McDonnell and his son Paul care for our horses full-time, year in and year out, rain, wind, or snow. They are very dedicated and Des is also the horse section secretary of our revived local show Crossmolina, which takes place on Saturday, July 29th. Des’s son Johnathon McDonnell and wife Sonja have helped produce a number of our horses throughout the years as well.

We also have a great vet in Jim Tempany and our farrier, Alan Egan. It truly takes a village even to run a small hobby breeding programme.

9. Best advice you ever got?

To buy this mare, Emme!

10. Favourite week of the year?

The RDS Dublin Horse Show, looking forward to the 2023 show!