By Agata Grosicka
Photography: Oliwia Chmielewska, private collections
This month’s focus on female breeders spotlights three extraordinary Polish women: Ilona Turowska, Dorota Witkowska, and Karolina Mazurek, representing showjumping, eventing, and dressage, respectively. They also represent a younger generation of breeders, hungry for success, and keen to share their opinions, philosophies, and plans for the future.
Ilona Turowska represents a new generation of Polish breeders – open-minded and hungry for success. Both a showjumper with the history of competing and a successful businesswoman Ilona has a clear vision and skills of turning her lifetime passion into entrepreneurship. The successes of the first crop of horses bred in EquiClub Zamlyniec at the championships for young horses and at competitions prove that the plan is working out pretty well.
Dorota Witkowska is in charge of breeding in Rzeczna Horse Stud – one of the most prosperous Polish State Studs specializing in sport horses with the focus on eventers.
Thirdly, Karolina Mazurek comes from a well-known Polish family of breeders. For many years her father, Pawel Mazurek, was the president of the Polish Association of Horse Breeders (PZHK), her uncle Piotr Mazurek is a breeder and a leader of one of the best Polish driving teams. Karolina herself is both a dressage horse breeder and an experienced Grand Prix rider who recently won the Polish Dressage Indoor Cup.
Q What led you to become a sport horse breeder? Do you think that being a woman in what was (at least until fairly recently) almost exclusively a man's world was an important factor in your decision?
Ilona: At the risk of sounding cliché, it has always been my dream to be around horses. It all started with a class trip to the local Lublin riding club that I went on in elementary school. Childhood dream turned into a teenage passion, which eventually lead to a career.
I was lucky that my parents supported my desire to ride. My Dad purchased an Anglo Arab named Flet that I learned on and got to compete on a little in the nineties. In 2004, while I was a student in the United States, with the help of my parents, I purchased a young mare named Gundi (Goodman x Ramiro Z x Gotthard). The plan was for me to return to Poland after my studies and ride Gundi. My educational ambitions took me directly to Spain, where I did my MBA, and subsequent corporate roles offered the opportunity move to different places: London, Geneva, Singapore, followed by Tokyo, the back to Singapore. During this time my beloved mare was only getting older, while a dream to compete one day remained vivid in my head and heart.
For that reason I decided to get involved in some ‘remote breeding’. I remember ordering Lordanos semen from the 28th floor of One Raffles Quay, the office of my corporate employer – Thomson Reuters. It was from our Tokyo office that I made the first call to the Hanoverian Verband to register Gundi's first foal – Lordanz.
In Tokyo I met my partner, Mark. At that point we were both ready for a new adventure, away from corporate life. Mark's family was involved in horses so it only felt natural for both of us to do something related to these animals. On the land that my father purchased, we built an equestrian centre ‘EquiClub Zamlyniec’ and started breeding Hanoverian horses for showjumping.
I don’t think being a woman moving into a predominantly male world had much to do with my decision. Rather, I consider myself a breeder in a breeders' world. Especially since the breeders that I look up to are also female. I follow how Marta Roszkiewicz has been building out the breeding operation in Kunowo and admire all the success she's had. I keep in close contact with Dr. Bonny-Jasmin Jacobs in Germany – I look up to her and consider her my mentor when it comes to the breeding of showjumpers. That said, it brings a fine balance when a male and a female run such a business together and I feel that Mark and I managed to accomplish exactly that... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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