The history of Pembridge Performance horses
It all began with Humphrey, a big bold part bred Cleveland Bay Sire Forest Saga Dam Blossom. The story of Humphrey is a Saga in itself with no room for the telling here He was a horse-mans horse and it was he who awakened our interest in Cleveland Bays. Through him and tracing his history we made many contacts and learnt much of the caliber of the breed.
On a trip to Malvern to see what was about my attention was caught by a horse standing with a ring of people about him. He was standing with dignity surrounded by dealers and meatmen. A proud horse he whinnied to me and having caught my attension I walked over. The then owner was negotiating unsuccessfully and he walked the horse away. I followed him to the box having got the drift of the conversations and asked of him. It turned out that the horse was Tynedale St Julian a Cleveland Bay Stallion then 16 years old, bred by Mrs Charles. Farming plans had changed but no way was Julian destined for the meat man and the owner just wanted to take the horse home. he had anticipated that in view of Julian' breeding and his success as a Sire there would have been more interest in him. The meatman had not been on his agenda.
I left the owner to his chagrin for a few days, but I could not get Julian out of my mind. I rang Vivian Collins and asked to continue our conversation. Invited to his bull farm I was met by an impressive site Bulls of every breed available for hire were abounding. A superb genetic bank. Julian was summoned and came to the call through a field full of bulls. It was an impressive sight to see this fine old war horse run the gauntlet to answer his masters call.
It turned out that Julian was a much loved horse, but that with the expansion of the Bull Hire business there was no time for the stud side and they were seeking a stud home for him. I did not hesitate and a deal was struck and Julian came home.
Home then was Trewyn Court. Julian joined the yard with the hunters and competition horses and settled in as if he had always been there. Buying Julian put me in touch with the Cleveland Bay Society to register ownership and much has stemmed from there.
Having acquired Julian and discovering what a key horse he was in the Cleveland Breeding programme and discovering how rare the Clevelands were I resolved to do what I could to save the breed from extinction. As I was just learning about the attributes of these wonderful horses you must forgive me, in that at his early stage I was concerned to conserve the breed so that I could breed more Humphreys. My thinking was soon changed. As I researched their history I realised what an ancient breed they were and indeed the only true British Bred Warm-blood. Riding and enjoying riding Julian, who at 16 was still very active I realised what they had to offer in their own right.
We decided to sell the Court and get more acreage. This was a huge decision as the Court was a way of life, but if we were to breed competition horses it was not the right place. After much searching we found Newton Farm, which came with another historic house Pembridge. This is where the stud started in 1988. To convert the farm into a stud was a big task and took us a number of years on the building work. In the meantime we stood Julian, who was joined by Midshipman another CB stallion. We also stood No Evil a good TB stallion ideal for covering smaller mares. I knew that what we needed was a big National Hunt stamp TB with movement to breed eventers. and started on my search. While searching for another TB I was approached by Sir John Miller to stand the Queen's CB stallion Forest Foreman. He was the son of Midshipman, but a very different stamp of CB. I had to go to Max Abrams to collect him and I asked Max if he had any TB's for sale,
He said that he did have one. He took me to a stable and inside I knew this was the horse that I was looking for even before he brought him out. Max lead the horse out and then troted him up. It was pure poetry.16.3 and athletic, The stallion moved through the shoulder and by his conformation, I knew that he could jump. Maax said that he was a good horse but difficult to produce and show as he was awkward to trot up, with his movement!
I knew that this was the movement that we were looking for. This is where the story of Stunner Rascal began with us. He had been bred by Jose Verkerk a race trainer in Holland. Jose had sent him as a two year old to a racing yard to be stored for National Hunt. We never got to the bottom of it ,but Stunner ended up in England in the HIS scheme.
We traced Jose, who was over the Moon that we had bought him, as she had been trying to trace him. Thus started a friendship that has continued throughout the years. Jose is in France now and we are about to embark on another adventure into breeding with her, but more of this later.
Our first season at Pembridge then saw a line of stallions Tynedale St Julian, Midshipman, Forest Foreman, No Evil and Stunner Rascal. To breed performance horses the range of stallions meant that we could analyse clients mares, and dependent on the type of foal that they wanted to produce we could recommend the right stallion for them In the early days as we were busy building, we had no mares of our own. Littlebeck Cavalier(there's another story) CB joined us as did Bassanio, a son of Forest Foreman. We used to enter into breeding agreements with stud clients who had the type of mares that we would be looking for. Three of these mares carried the Wayland prefix, Wayland Sherry and her two daughters Wayland Katy and Wayland Lady.(Dam of Plantaginet of Rushall) These three mares bred well for us.Their progeny included Pembridge Soloman, Pembridge Sheba Pembridge Mischief Pembridge CrackerJack, Pembridge Honkytonk Pembridge Coacoa and Pembridge Sparkle.
We are indebted to these mares as they got us started and the names of their progeny are known in the competition world.
We knew that the time had come to breed our own mares and we started to aquire foundation mares so that we could breed our own herd. From these early mares, who can be found on the foundation mares web page. We bred our first generation of performance horses We are now on our fourth generation from these humble beginnings and are getting where we want to be.
We set out to breed partbred CB performance horses, like hunphrey and indeed we did. No Evil was with us for 3 seasons and produced quality showjumpers and showhorses. Perhaps one of his best known is Pembridge Jason of Skewpie, a Chaps Silver meddle stallion.So many of our early horses are now in their teens. Pembridge Holyoak and Pembridge Munchie, out of the NTR mare Pembridge Holly are jumping in Ireland. Holly is also the Dam of Pembridge Mister Macauley,which brings us to our next TB stallion. Jose had a TB group winning stallion Minstrel Star. When she knew that we needed to replace No Evil Jose suggested that we stood Minstrel Star for a few seasons. Minnie as he was affectionately known joined us at the end of the season. We only had one mare by this time that was not in foal and so we covered Amethyst CB with Minstrel Star and the resultant progeny Pembridge Minstrel,went on to become an International Eventer.
In the three seasons that Minnie was with us he sired some outstanding partbreds, including Pembridge Mr Macauley and Pembridge Endeavour and Pembridge Copycat to name but a few. After Minnie returned home we added Shiply Diamond TB to the line. He too has proved a successful sire of eventers and showjumpers. Interestingly one partbred CB Pembridge Rocket (Lic Stallion) by him out of Pembridge Jewel has been purchased by the Whitakers as a future showjumping stallion.
We, in tandem with the eventers, were breeding purebred CB's as we wanted to help to protect this endangered breed.Out of our first purebred mare (Pembridge Jewel by Tynedale St Juian, out of Ramblers Empress) we bred Pembridge Midshipman, by the Life Premium CB stallion Midshipman. Pembridge Midshipman is now himself a Premium CB stallion and a performance horse in his own right.
By now we really understood them and realised the contribution that the CB could make to the modern eventer.
Having achieved a small degree of success in breeding performance horses, both part bred CB's Tb's and better than 7/8th we decided to broaden the programme.
Julian had proved a mainstay in the Stud, not just as a sire but as the main teaser for all the line .He was also a wonderful herd stallion controlling his field of mares teaching their foals manners and respect. He ruled the field and always had the respect of his mares. If a new mare was introduced Julian would come forward to greet them and only once he had received her would any of the herd come forward, with his permission.
In his twilight years Julian ran with all the young colts and taught them their manners too. Pembridge Soloman, Pembridge Mischief,Pembridge Rascal and Master and Minstrel are all current stallions that benefited from Julians wisdom and training.
Sadely one day it was Julians time to go. We took him to say goodbye to his mares and he gave then one last whinny as he knew it was time. He was a herd stallion to the end. He will never be forgotten because he made Pembridge.
To widen our breeding programme we then brought Waldlord to the stud. Already a proven sire of performance horses to International level we knew that the addition of his jump and movement would benefit the programme. Until his retirement he was competed by Brigid Campbel, in dressage, jumping and horse trials. Already a grade A he enjoyed his twilight years in competition, with dressage to music as his forte. Brigids mare Welton Independent joined the breeding programme. Independent firstly had Pembridge Jack the Nipper, by Tynedale St Julian, followed by Pembridge Welcome, to Waldlord. Next came Pembridge Swingtime,out eventing 2005 Her last two foals to Pembridge Minstrel FEI Pembridge Musician and Pembridge Melody are both being stored to event also.
By now all our sires and dams had progeny competing in all three disciplines. In the early years before we were established so many of our good horses went to riders who often did not realise what they had and either they sold them on and they became lost in the system, or they just retained them and did little with them. Fortunately for us some came through to prove our breeding.
Midshipman senior and Littlebeck Cavalier were pivotal in regenerating the renowned Cholderton Herd of Clevelands.Each year on completion of their stud duties with us, they would go in turn to cover mares. Sadely one year we lost Midshipman at the end of the season. Midshipman, who had done so much to save the breed was lost away from home. Henry Edmunds of Cholderton was like us greatly saddened and offeref us one of Midshipmans colts to carry on his line. So Cholderton Yobi joined us and he too is now a premium stallion.
In 2000 the time had come for us to move on The stud had developed and moved into another phase. With planning for an equestrian centre and holday complex,it would have taken all our time and we would no longer have time for the stud.
We resolved to move once more.
We had thoughts of moving to the sea, so that we could work-ride on the beach, as the salt water is so good for horses legs. This on its own was not enough we had to consider many other things.
It was the start of a very traumatic phase for Pembridge. We had a buyer for the farm and were focusing on finding a temporary base in Pembrokeshire when everything turned pear shaped. At the point of sale and in the middle of our move Foot and Mouth broke out we we were suspended between the devil and the deep-blue sea.
We ended up losing the sale on the farm as it was in an exclusion zone and landing ourselves in a completely unsuitable place as our first base in Pembrokeshire. We battled our way through our first season down here, while looking for a more suitable base.
Having had to build our temporary base I then had to build another yard once we had found a suitable site. It is the end of 2004 and I am still building, but the end is in sight. By the spring the new stud and AI facility will be completed. It will be a relief not to have to build for a while so that the total focus can go back onto the horses.
Even while all this has been going on, we have been looking for ways to improve the breeding programme. The aim is to consistently breed tough sound eventers, capable of the highest level
The TB places an important role in eventing giving the speed and stamina. We knew that if this could be improved on consistency could be maintained. I started looking at ways to introduce the type of stamina inherent in the endurance horses. A good friend of ours Gill Suttle had rescued an Akelteke stallion Atemekhan.When in Turkmestan, as a writer. Khan had been her 'legs' An ME sufferer Gill was reliant on the stallion for transport, while gleaning information for her writings. On her return to Turkemestan, a while later she found Khan in a desperate state and resolved to bring him to England.
Through this I researched the Akelteke and discovered that they were the TB of Turkemestan. As racehorses they were fast, but the bit that interested me was their ability to endure hardship. They lived under harsh condition on very poor rations and yet they achieved. I therefore decided to try putting the speed and endurance of the akhelteke onto the power and endurance of the CB to breed the ultimate eventer.
This we did, covering Pembridge Jewel with Khan.The result of this mating is Pembridge Jamilia, rising three. At the same time we covered Pembridge Selena,one of Stunner Rascals daughters with Khan. This combined his attributes with the jump and ability of Stunner. Stunner himself the son of Stuyvesant, a German Derby winner. The result of this mating is Pembridge Samarkand, also rising three.
So many other things have run in tandem over the years. Minstrel Style by Minstrel Star out of Stylish Rascal(Own sister to Stunner Rascal and a black type winner) was bred by Jose to come to us as a stallion. He evented successfully for us in Ireland where we sent him to John Reid, to go forward to the IHB. He has now returned to the stud, to replace Stunner Rascal, who we tragically lost in 2002. Stunners role was pivotal he had the most wonderful movement and an impressive jump.
There is a little story that I will tell you of him.
When presented for grading at AES I could see that the judges did not like this big rangy TB, so different to the rounded warmbloods. When loosed for the dressage judges he put in one of his typical free spirit displays, more reminiscent of the Lloyds bank stallion than a prospective dressage sire. Then came the loose jumping. He went down the jumping lane playing with the jumps as for him they were small. Geof Glazzard instructed that he be sent down again and then again. Each time he went down he hung in the air over every jump, trying to make something of them .He then eyed up the 6 foot perimeter fence and but for the handlers would have jumped it. That was Stunner all over, larger than life and a free spirit!
Later that day I said to Geof why did you embarrass me by sending my horse down the lane again and again?
Geoff replied 'I could watch him jumping all day, his jump is so good!' Needless to say he was licensed.
This is just a brief outline of the history of the Pembridge breeding progrmme. There are so many mares and stallions that have contributed and indeed still are There are too many to mention here and so too with their progeny. Each is part of a jigsaw falling into shape. There are no shortcuts to success. It has taken us a decade to get to where we are now.
I was a founder member of the Supporters of British Breeding. I remember well Dessie's momentous words when we started 'Its going to take a decade to turn things round' How true Its taken us 15 years to get established and see the results of our planning. Its the next decade where it will all really tell.
copyright K Telford 2005©