By Nadia Rea / HSI Breeding Department
Photography: Private collection, Jumpinaction Photography,
FEI/Peter van den Bulck, and FEI/Nanna-Riikka Nieminen
We are all aware of Mikey Pender’s outstanding achievments at just 19 and 20 years of age, winning multiple puissances, derbys and ranking classes, but where did it all begin? Horse Sport Irelands Breeding department recently caught up with the young showjumping sensation and his hardworking family at his home farm.
Mikey Pender hails from the heart of Ireland’s equestrian breeding county. Madges Lane Stables is located just outside Castledermot in Co. Kildare. This family-run farm is managed by Mikeys grandad Mick Pender, grandmother Bernie Pender, and mum AnnMarie Pender.
Mick Pender tells us how it all began. “Over 30 years ago I started the breeding operation here in Madges Lane with my Al-Barek (Thoroughbred) mare Killerig Beauty (ISH). I started breeding her in 1989. She was a really good broodmare. I loved all the traditional bloodlines taking her to Laughtons Flight (ISH), Sky Boy (TB), Ghareeb (TB) or Ballinvella (TB). The injection of Thourgherbred blood always worked well with my mares and this made them very sellable. One cross that worked particularly well for me with this mare was the Sky Boy cross. These traditionally bred progeny sold well to Italy. However, I did keep one of these mares, Step to the Sky (ISH). She then bred Madges Lane Derek (ISH) who placed second as a four-year-old in the Young Event Horse League in the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) before being sold for eventing in England. AnnMarie then progressed with the breeding yard and developed Madges Lane riding school.”
AnnMarie and Bernie Pender regaled with tales of the riding school days, with the latter laughingly describing Mick as the Pied Piper. “Mick always had a trail of eager children following him around the yard, whether it was to go check on the mares or to learn about the traits of certain horses and why they were targeted at various diciplines. Meanwhile AnnMarie taught lessons, correct grooming techniques, and stable management. There was always a buzz about the place and a great atmosphere.”
Mikey soon latched on to the breeding yard and also began to ride on the school ponies at a very early age. AnnMarie recalls Mikey slipping off to join the mares and foals in the field as early as three years of age. “He was always infatuated with all types of horses not just ponies. He had a genuine love for them. I never worried about him with horses even when he would wander off to see the mares and foals. While I always watched on he just had a natural understanding of all things equine. As he got older it became obvious that Mikey was a very talented rider. He began producing 128cm, 138cm and 148cm ponies at just eight years of age. People used to come with ponies to the yard for Mikey to ride. Then we would bring their ponies to various country shows for him to ride and school them. It was always a family affair, Dad (Mick) would drive the truck of ponies while Mum (Bernie) would have the day’s lunch made, and we would all head off together. At this point our riding school was coming to an end as the yard was getting too busy to accommodate lessons, and it was a worry to have large groups or young children around young horses and ponies. So sadly we closed the riding school and decided to concentrate on the breeding and production side.”
The first taste of success
Mikey had his first taste for success when he won the Pony Millstreet Discovery three years in a row. His hunger for ongoing success became stronger year after year competing at the largest international events in Europe riding a string of Irish ponies. In 2013 Mikey had individual wins in Arezzo and Hagen on board Blackwoodland Rock (CP). This 17-year-old Connemara pony stallion is by I Love You Melody (CP) and out of Grey Rock Trish (CP), by Derrigragh Robin (CP). The pony was bred by Anthony and Janice Linden and owned by Paddy Quinlan before being sold in 2014 to Estonia... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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