The Road To Your Dreams - Part 1

By Gordon Ironside, MFS Studfarm


I had a dream many years ago that I wanted to breed a horse that was at the top of the sport, to have a successful Studfarm where a horse I bred would deliver results for us and for their new owner.

This small story I am hoping will show breeders in the UK what is possible if you really and truly wish to put your mind to breeding yourself a future superstar, and also that you do not have to be a multi-millionaire to do this, although the money would come in handy and get you there much quicker! However, breeding horses is like character building. The longer you do it, the more you learn, and sometimes not the easy way either, but it’s the tough times that also push you forwards, as well as the good times.

I was born and grew up on a farm. We always had a lot of livestock about the place, but my passion was always that I wanted to have my own horse. This did not come until I was later on in life, in my late 20’s.

I started out around 17 years ago with a Thoroughbred mare called Storm. I got her as a youngster and purchased her locally.

From here I wanted to breed a nice sportshorse; I knew what I wanted to breed, so I set out to try and find a stallion locally. This stallion came in the shape of a liver chestnut stallion called Tarsus S and I came across him one day while out for a drive.

He was standing in a paddock and had the most majestic of looks, and I knew that I had found the right stallion for my mare. He was very modern in type compared to the heavier traditional warmbloods. He was a Bavarian Warmblood stallion by a stallion called Tristan. He was a 100 day performance-tested stallion that showed a lot of athletic ability. Back then it was all natural covering, so I sent my mare over to the Studfarm that stood him.

That Studfarm was called Shalloch Bavarians and it was there that I ended up meeting my future wife! Many jokes have been told over time about this, I can assure you, especially regarding how “the stallion” stumbled upon “the mare”!


Storm & Toby

Tarsus S

Tarsus S

In the August of that year I purchased an Appaloosa mare……yes, that’s right, an Appaloosa. For people that know me now, they must be falling about laughing, because nowadays I have to say that I am not the biggest fan of coloured horses, and before I am jumped upon, it is just my own personal preference.

The Appaloosa mare I purchased was called Cheetah….yes, I know, most original. The mare was owned by the top Scottish breeder, George Nimmo, who was a name known throughout Scotland for producing top showjumping horses. Cheetah was a proven breeding mare who had produced several showjumping offspring by the Bavarian stallion “Dompfaff”. Sadly I never had any success trying to get Cheetah in foal, so sold her on. The funny side to this story is that the person I sold her to then had several offspring out of her, but I believe that this was meant to be.

From here I purchased the liver chestnut colt Troy who was also by Tarsus S. I had plans of him being my own future stallion. The following year Storm produced the colt foal Toby. Toby was later sold on after being backed, but sadly I never found out what became of him.

At this point I was engaged to Caroline (my wife) and we later got married. She also had a gelding by Tarsus S called Taggart SB. He was later sold on as he was not big enough for Caroline to ride.

From Storm we got the foals Toby, Storms Godiva (by Duplikat S sire of Fiona Bigwoods Grand Prix dressage star "Dance & Fly") and Saida (by Dumas S son of Duplikat S).



We later sold Storm on as a riding horse as we felt that we wished to progress with our breeding programme, and so set out to find ourselves the best mares we could afford to buy at the time. At this time we also purchased a foal from Ridinghill Stud, a local stud that stood the Bavarian Warmblood stallion Dorian. The foal we called Rytina I, she was by Dorian out of an Irish Sportshorse dam.

Up until that point we had only bred with the Bavarian Warmblood, however we had heard of a studfarm called Birkland that bred Dutch Warmbloods, and one day we were having a nice drive in the countryside and came across the stud. We stopped and had a look at the fantastic array of horses in the fields and were most impressed.


I laugh at this memory because I remember the argument I had with Caroline. As she had always supported the Bavarian Warmbloods, she was adamant that she would not like the Dutch Warmbloods, but I persuaded her to go and take a look.

It’s hilarious really, especially for those people who know us well and see what horses we currently have! From this point we became hooked on the Dutch bloodlines. Birkland stood the showjumping stallion Jurius (very successful showjumping horse and breeding stallion) and the dressage/showjumping stallion Purioso II.

Toby, Saida & Rytina I

From here we purchased the mare Octavia B by Jurius. I remember the day well because Caroline and I were arguing over which mare to buy as she had her eye on another and like the way it jumped, but I knew that Octavia was the mare for me. Later we purchased Osprey B by Invincible B; this was sadly when the stud was being closed down, and now I believe there is a housing site where the studfarm used to be.

Octavia B was sold in 2008, but brought us several 1st Premium foals, BEF Futurity 1st Premiums, the Reserve Champion 2 year old showjumper at the BEF Futurity Elite Show in 2008 (MFS B'Royal) and the 2009 Champion at the SSH Annual Grading (MFS Caliana). As Octavia B gave us three 1st Premium horses at the SSH gradings she was awarded the "Model" award in 2007.

We still had Troy at this stage. As he was a Bavarian Warmblood we entered him for the Bavarian Warmblood grading as a 2.5 year old colt. Sadly he did not make the grade, but not put off, we then entered him for the Scottish Sports Horse (SSH) grading. This was our first experience with this association. Caroline had been a Director of the British Bavarian Warmblood Association, so we had always stuck with them. However, the SSH was another new direction we went in.

At this grading, Troy was granted “Listed” status with the SSH, this was the lowest grade available (with the top one being “Licensed”). At the time, we spoke to Margot Kennedy, the Studbook Manager, and said that we were looking for a stallion prospect. Margot was most impressed that we had decided that Troy was not good enough, despite being granted “Listed” and that because of this we had decided to geld him as he was not good enough for what we had visualized for our studfarm.


Octavia B & Gordon in 2007


Due to this commitment to finding the best for our breeding plans, she agreed to put us in touch with the KWPN Chairman at the time on our quest to look for a future stallion for the Stud.

This quest ended up with our first visit to Holland, and with a visit to the VDL Stud in the North of the country........

For Part 2 come back and read the June Edition where we go to Holland.

Gordon Ironside

Troy by Tarsus S
out of Florette by Lugano I

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