By Helen Sharp PhD
Photography: Courtesy Four Seasons, Helen Sharp Photography
Tucked away amid the Irish postcard beauty of the dry-stone walls and fecund fields of County Galway, Four Seasons Stables is one of Ireland’s most respected yards for the production of young horses. Partners for 20 years, Olive Clarke and David Scally have an innate ability to coax out and encourage the best part of each horse that comes through their well-organised yard.
Whether it’s in the yard or on the showjumping circuit, there is a visible emphasis on solid work and thoughtful refinement with Four Seasons Stables, focusing on the finer details of not only educating and competing the horses but also in the daily husbandry of the animals in their care. A rare and almost forensic consideration for the horses’ individual needs makes for impressive animals and equally impressive performances. The seemingly natural ability of both Clarke and Scally has, of course, been honed over many years working in top-level equine sport. Clarke is a highly respected rider, having competed for Ireland in several Nations Cups and numerous big stage competitions, including Hickstead and Dublin. Scally is the Four Seasons yard and breeding manager, and has worked closely with Olympian Cian O’Connor.
The breeding operation at Four Seasons is an exciting one, as not only is it relatively new, but it is the also product of Scally and Clarke’s particular combination of skills and knowledge: It is the rider/breeder dialogue that appears to feed successfully into the impressive foals they have produced so far.
As a seasoned showjumper, Clarke has the valuable rider perspective, but perhaps equally importantly, their breeding endeavour has its beginnings with a special mare with whom Clarke competed. The Four Seasons Stables foun-dation mare is the 1m60 Paradise G KWPN (In-doctro - Godine x Nimmerdor), bred in the Netherlands by Th. Griffin, on which Clarke won many Grand Prix competitions and placed fourth in the 2006 Hickstead Speed Derby. The talented bay mare with a whole lot of Thoroughbred on her dam-side was an extremely keen mare who, according to Scally, had an incredible brain for the sport; “Almost too much! She had more ability in her head than in her body.” Unfortunately for the sport, she was retired at 13 due to an injury, but fortunately for breeding the team decided to put her in foal.
Clarke says of her; “Paradise looked like a Thoroughbred but wasn’t the most blood mare to ride, she wasn’t the scopiest horse either, but she made up for that in heart and ‘try’, and she never gave up in the ring. She had a small canter and was very light in the mouth; careful and super competitive. She had a great brain. For breeding, we try to cross her with scopey, rangy stallions to put some size into her foals.”
As a young horse Paradise G produced the 1m55 daughter Rime de Longpre by the BWP Jus de Pomme stallion, Perhaps vh Molenvondel. With Four Seasons Stables, she has produced four Irish Sport Horse offspring: FSS Spotlight by Cruisings Mickey Finn; FSS Daredevil by Heritage Fortune; FSS Copycat/aka FSS Twilight by Kannan GFE; and FSS Zodiac by Cornet Obolensky. The three daughters have remained with Four Seasons Stables as the team are building their breeding program from these sisters, so far with considerable success... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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