Meadow Stud

An Exclusive Interview with Sharon Baldwin

by Caroline Ironside

Vangelis Derby Bank

Having heard about Meadow Stud over the years from friends who have used their services and stallions, I was delighted when they agreed to an interview for the magazine.

I started by asking Sharon about the history of Meadow Stud,

The stud was founded in the early 1990’s. At that time, in comparison to those available on the continent, the relatively small number of purpose-bred sporthorse stallions available here for our small herd of broodmares sparked the idea of importing and standing stallions that would be of equal quality to the ones available in Europe.

How did you first become involved in horse breeding, and what made you decide to start breeding your own horses?

We have always had some broodmares (even from when I was still in ponies) and have always bred some foals in order to breed the next generation of sporthorses. So, the interest in breeding has always been there.

Your Studfarm has had some excellent results over the last few years, and stand at stud some remarkable stallions. What do you think are the most important aspects to running a successful Studfarm and what makes your stallions stand out from the rest?

We pride ourselves on giving clients a very professional and personal service, as well as an exceptionally high standard of care for our own as well as any visiting horses. Our motto on the yard has always been: ‘The impossible we’ll do straight away. Miracles may take a little longer.’ A stud farm needs to be well equipped and staffed with knowledgeable and caring staff in order to live up to the expectations of clients.

Our stallions stand out for their exceptional temperaments, manners and ability.

What was the first stallion you stood at stud, and how did you find him? What contributions do you feel he made to your breeding programme?

The first two stallions I stood publicly at stud were Ideal Centre, an Irish Sport Horse stallion by King of Diamonds and Viscount Royale, a Belgian bred stallion by Prince Royal, with whom I won two major Show-Jumping Championships at the Royal Bath and West show. Both stallions were from very good jumping lines, the discipline I am most passionate about. The Irish and the Belgians were at the top of their game and introducing some of these lines to my breeding programme was very important to me. I believe they influenced me in the way of thinking to use more foreign blood to improve my own stock.

As a stallion owner/stallion station, what do you think is important to standing a potential top class stallion?

As a stallion station, it is very important to have the relevant facilities in order to be able to provide semen to mare owners. Also, it is important to have the right team around the stallion, being able to handle him professionally and correctly as well as taking utmost care for the stallion’s well-being. Furthermore, for a potential top class stallion, it is important to have the right rider in order for the stallion to be produced to his full potential. Sporting results are a very valuable tool to the marketing of a stallion.

As a stallion owner myself and knowing how difficult it can be to spot a potential stallion as a foal, I asked Sharon what she looks for in a future stallion and how she makes the selections? Either breeding and buying in as foals, or purchasing an older Approved stallion?

Apart from the foundation stallion Ideal Centre, most of our stallions were purchased at a very young age, with the exception of our current stallion Landtanzer, who was already approved in Germany. The obvious financial input of buying an already approved stallion influences many studfarms. They have to buy younger in order to obtain the quality and superiority they aim to stand stud. When choosing a young stallion prospect, many aspects influence the decision such as quality, talent, conformation, athleticism, masculinity, temperament and bloodlines but above all they must have that certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’. But also, to become a top stallion the environment, training, education etc. of the stallion is as important as all the other aspects.

Landtanzer1

Above: Landtanzer

Of your current collection of stallions, which one stands out the most for each discipline, or what types of mares do you think are best matched to each of the stallions you stand at stud?

VangelisDerby

Obviously, Raging Bull Vangelis-S (double winner at Olympia 2010) and Pro-Set (World Equestrian Games 2010) have stood out particularly in the 2010 season due to their outstanding competition results.

Above: Raging Bull Vangelis-S

PROSET

As we stand a variety of stallions at Meadow Stud, we can give mare owners the choice of different types of stallions and bloodlines from top class Grand prix stallions, top up-and-coming young stallions and dual purpose stallions.

Above: Pro-Set

Have your breeding views changed over the years with the ever changing breeding directions we see in Europe?

Everyone must move with the times because the equestrian sport is forever changing and evolving, and nowadays it requires different types of horses from in previous years.

What do you think is more important, a stallion who does well in the sport, or a stallion who does well as a breeder?

Both are obviously very important but ultimately a stallion that is successful as a breeder is far more valuable to a breeding programme than a sport stallion. There are many stallions out there whose sporting career has been cut short due to injury, accidents etc. and who have proven themselves as fantastic breeding stallions with outstanding offspring.

What bloodlines do you think have had the most influence in the world of breeding across the disciplines?

It is very difficult to pinpoint a couple of particular bloodlines that have had the most influence on breeding, as Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, French-bred and Trakehners all had an impact on the creation of the modern sportshorse.

So, what are the qualities you look for in a breeding mare, and what do you class as being the most important aspects when looking for a mare?

The aspects for a breeding mare are similar to a stallion i.e. conformation, quality, temperament etc. When looking at an older mare, a competition record or offspring already produced are also important. When choosing a younger mare, apart from the aspects already mentioned, a successful motherline or closely bred successful relatives influence the decision.

We all know that the broodmare is as important if not more when breeding youngstock, so with your own breeding mares, where have you found the majority of them, and what % do you purchase and breed?

Apart from the broodmares we have bred ourselves, we usually purchase our mares from trusted contacts on the continent. However, we have also purchased broodmares in the UK. The most important part to us is the mare herself and her place in our breeding programme. We only have a small number of broodmares and most of the horses we breed get sold as foals.

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