Home Breeder Profile IHB’s Gloria Nolan: Turning pony passion into business

IHB’s Gloria Nolan: Turning pony passion into business

Winner of Royal Dublin Show final, Ardnehue Maxamillion (CP) with Gloria Nolan alongside (l-r) Gerd Kust (German judge), Philip Hilton (British judge), alongside Berney Bros. representative (sponsor of RDS Connemara classes)

By Nadia Rea / IHB
Photography: Nadia Rea; First Class Images

The Irish Horse Boards Nadia Rea recently sat down with Gloria Nolan to learn more about her breeding and production yard, and how she has turned her love for the native Connemara pony breed into her successful, expanding business.

Based in Gloria’s family home and tillage farm on the outskirts of Carlow, she maintains 40 acres of quality equestrian land for her breeding and production yard.

Where it all began

Gloria Nolan with young

Gloria began riding at the age of four in the local ‘Russelstown Riding School’ under the guidance of the owner Sean Doran. She then joined the local branch of the pony club. where her competitive nature developed and was nurtured by Eileen Brennan, the Carlow branch DC (district commissioner).
As Gloria’s knowledge and love of competing grew her parents, James and Marion, decided it was time for Gloria, age 10, to be responsible for her own pony. ‘Cicso’ was a 12.2hh palomino pony who gave her the best start. “My parents have always encouraged me and been my biggest supporters from day one. My career would only have ever been a dream without their continuous guidance, driving force, and unwavering belief in what I could achieve, My family as a whole have been behind me every step of the way and I have been extremely fortunate that they could all help me get started in various ways. My brother Gareth Nolan has a construction company Gazcon Construction, he listened and understood the requirements/ design that I wanted for the yard and he then built the stables and paddocks, etc., just as I needed.
“My sister Laura Cassells owns and runs a successful clothing store ‘Second to None’ in Carlow town and is always on hand to offer business advise and support. I recently got married to Michael Morrissey who is a dairy farmer from Kilkenny. His passion for ponies is growing by the day and I am very fortunate that he understands how demanding the farming life can be.”
At the age of 18 Gloria attended Gurteen Agricultural College in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, where she received an Equine Business Degree from Athlone Institute of Technology. This course combined both the practical and business elements of today’s equine industry and was most beneficial to Gloria’s success.
Following graduation Gloria expanded her knowledge further through travel and the racing industry. She worked with some of the most prominent trainers in the most prestigious yards both nationally and internationally. It was here that Gloria gained an invaluable insight into the importance of yard operations, high standards, and slow, steady production methods.

The business operations

In 2009 Gloria returned home from Australia with a business plan in mind, and then bought two Connemara pony mares. These were the foundation mares with performance pedigrees to begin her breeding operation, which has now grown to 10 broodmares. When asked about choosing stallions for her mares Gloria said “I always aim to cross top competition Connemara pony stallions with my mares for the best results, but there are several factors to consider first, such as conformation, rideability, results, etc but I base a lot of my decisions on temperament. If they don’t have an excellent temperament, I don’t have any interest. You need to recognise the needs of your market and aim to meet those targets every time. I believe every pony has a purpose and it’s my job to recognise which job or discipline best suits each pony. I produce and maintain a selection of ponies for the leisure and competition market, but recognising what’s required and making accurate breeding decisions all starts when choosing the right stallion for each mare.”
We put Gloria on the spot and asked for five top stallions she has used over the years to facilitate market demands. Gloria quickly responded with Burning Daylight 1997 (CP), Silver Shadow 1998 CP, Blackwoodland Rock 2003 CP, Pumkins Pondi 2003 CP, and finally, the up-and-coming Avalon Outcast 2018 (CP), whom she has used most recently and is really impressed by his young progeny... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber