Home Breeder Profile Digging deep to produce the next top Irish Sport Horses

Digging deep to produce the next top Irish Sport Horses

Mikey riding HHS Burnchurch (Heritage Fortunus - China Cavalier x Cavalier Royale)

By Nadia Rea / HSI
Photography: Laurence Dunne/Jumpinaction Photography, and Nadia Rea

In a year when things seem to be difficult for all riders trying to climb the international rankings ladder, and breeders striving to breed the next top Irish Sport Horse, Michael ‘Mikey’ Pender, Marion Hughes, and the team at Hughes Horse Stud dug in deep to continue to produce their home-bred Irish Sport Horses to the top level.

Finishing number two in the U25 Longines FEI Jumping World rankings and 44th in the overall FEI World rankings, a rider like Mikey Pender never fails to shine on the world stage.
Horse Sport Ireland’s Nadia Rea reflects on an incredibly successful year with the record-making riding sensation Mikey Pender, Olympic rider and HHS Stud owner Marion Hughes, and breeder and MHS Stud owner Tom Brennan.

Q Firstly, Mikey, congratulations on being ranked 44th in the FEI Jumping World Rankings and second in the Under-25 World Rankings. Do you realise what an achievement this is? Has it sunk in yet?
Thank you. It’s unbelievable really to be ranked at number 44 in the world. I’m absolutely delighted and I need to thank everyone at HHS for their hard work and dedication – it’s not just me ranked 44, it’s our whole team, without a team none of this would be possible. I also have a fantastic team of horses who jump their hearts out for me every time we go in the ring. I am very lucky to have such special Irish Sport Horses at this level.

Q You clearly have a very special bond with all the Irish Sport Horses you compete with. Can you tell me about a typical day, the exercise and work routine that you undergo when approaching a Global Champions Tour?
Yes I definitely love the Irish horses, I think they are very kind horses with big hearts that always fight for you in the ring and they very much enjoy what they do.
My routine is very simple. Every horse is a little bit different but I try to keep everything as simple as possible. They get worked in the morning before the class. I try to work them within three or four hours of the class. I feel then you have them where you want them for the competition, they don’t get very fresh on you again before you jump, after that it’s about keeping them happy and confident in the warm-up.

Q It must be an amazing feeling to compete in Grands Prix, Nations Cups and Global Champions tours on horses bred by Marion Hughes and Tom Brennan, and produced by you the whole way up through the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Series, RDS Young Horse Classes and WBFSH World breeding Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken. Can you please tell us about the impact these production classes in Ireland have on getting these horses world-stage ready?
I think we have some fantastic leagues in Ireland for the young horses. It’s brilliant to get two days jumping at different venues around the country with the best arenas and course builders. To be able to jump in the likes of the main ring in Dublin and all the main arenas at these venues for the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Series is amazing. It makes our young horses grow up a lot and I feel after this education they are never fazed. We can go into any big spooky grass or sand arena anywhere in the world and they take it all in their stride. It’s a very good upbringing for our young horses in Ireland... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber