It all started in a small Dutch field not far from her home. That is where Liz Barclay as a four-year old preferred to spend her time dreaming of riding a little fat Shetland. It became the red thread through her life. Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony. The mix of working with all ages and also her interest in all aspects of riding, including `hacking a horse in a friendly and balanced manner’ keep her fresh and motivated.
BUYING A WARMBLOOD IN CORNWALL? YES, WHY NOT?
ADAM ELLERY: KEEPING THINGS UNCOMPLICATED
Approved stallions are kept in separate paddocks. Artificial insemination for the mares is the safe way to go. By the time the foal is due the mare is kept in, at least at night, so the birth can happen safely and controlled. Isn't that the way you're supposed to do it?
No, actually, at least not in Adam Ellery's books. Adam finds a young stallion with breeding he fancies and starts jumping him. If he likes what he feels and sees, -and the results at shows are good- he throws him in the field with his mares, some twenty of them. No scanning, waste of money and most times it's fine.
The foals are born in the field, with the stallion there, as well. A lot less risk at nasty infections than in the stable and also not the mess when a mare accidentally injures her foal.
Well, what can I say? Not much, if it works, it works. And for Adam it seems that way. Why make life more complicated than it is?
EYE TO EYE WITH HEARTBREAKER AND CLINTON
Adam likes the warmblood horse. This was sparked even more so when, some years ago, he googled of the cuff some yards in Holland and just happened to come across Ilse Bosch from the well known and connected 'Gebr.Bosch' yard.
Typical, luck on his side! Ilse took Adam around the east of Holland and also 'popped' into the famous stud of Team Nijhof. Yes, that was quite something, to see Heartbreaker and Clinton at their home, the living legends of the international jumping world.
Adam ended up buying a young Eldorado from the Gebr. Bosch, now very successfully competing. I had to help him a bit with the name. 'Eldorado from the, uhm...'. 'Zeshoek', I said. Yes, that one! Why do Dutch breeders make the names of their horses so complicated for their potential foreign customers!
Adam's visit also brought him the contact with Dutch dealer Henny Schennink, where son Harvey is now training (see previous blog).
TRACTORS, TRAILERS AND OTHER FARMING IMPLEMENTS
Let's go back some thirty-odd years when I moved here. My very first pupil was Lorraine Ball, who had several young horses she bred herself. She used to bring them to Adam to be backed and they always came back happy and ready to go on. Apparently it was a bit wild up there. Not too many fences, and various horses were wandering among tractors, trailers and various other farming implements.
Hmm, I thought, if I did that it would turn into mayhem and the vet would be a regular visitor. I wonder what kind of a guy this is...
'SORT THE BUGGER OUT'
From then on I kept on hearing his name, generally connected to a horse with a problem. Next thing, my neighbours both got hurt when trying to clip their youngster for the first time. I went to cook for them that evening because neither of them were even able to put the kettle on, let alone cook a meal. They said Adam Ellery would come the next day and 'sort the bugger out'.
What time? Ten-ish? I'll be there.
NOT AN OUNCE OF TENSION
The clippers were humming happily, when I turned up the next morning, and the young grey was as relaxed as the guy holding the clippers. When I introduced myself, I immediately saw where Adam's strength was. Not a speck of adrenaline. Completely none! Just a relaxed grin without an ounce of tension.
Not long after that another rider, a pro, mentioned him. 'Adam rides everything on a long rein. No wonder they behave. He doesn't really ask anything.'
I had never seen him ride, so couldn't form an opinion.
BIG AND AWKWARD
Until I had a problem with my own horse. He was too big for me and increasingly awkward. I could not cope with him on the flat, but he jumped well, so I gave Adam a call.
I did understand that Adam possibly needed a little 'privacy' to tell my big boy that napping wasn't an option. So, I went inside for five minutes or so. When I came back, the horse was happily working away with a positive eye and Adam nodded his friendly grin.
The next weekend I drove to Poltimore, where my patience was tested to the extreme, with Adam turning up more than last minute (normal!), but just in time to jump a clear round (also normal). Whatever length his reins were, it worked.
A DECENT WEBSITE AND NEWQUAY AIRPORT
Back to the here and now. Adam is as busy as ever. Nearly not a weekend goes by or he is at a competition with several horses, also with his new stallion High Hopes Condor (Caretino X Capitol I).
Adam has a clever partner, Sarah, who has made a very decent website. 'Westcountry Sports Horses' sounds good and eyes professional. The fact that the yard is only a few miles from Newquay airport is a bonus. A few nearby B&B's add to an easy and pleasant stay.
This is how Adam ended up with a contact in the States with whom he owns a couple of horses. His contact pays some livery and competition fees, Adam trains and competes. When this foreign rider likes the horse he buys Adam's share and has it brought to the States for himself. When they both decide the horse is ready to be sold, they share the profit. What a super formula.
Adam likes buying from Mark Bosanko, of whom I regularly see good horses on my travels.
A LITTLE ANGEL ON HIS SHOULDER
It is obvious. Without the computer and Newquay airport it would have been impossible for Adam to be this successful in the furthest point of the UK. Also, I am convinced Adam has, other than being an excellent horseman, a little angel on his shoulder. When I told him that on my visit to the yard, he gave me that typical 'Ellery-grin' again.
A BRILLIANT HOLIDAY AND, POSSIBLY, A HORSE
It may seem a touch unusual, when you live upcountry or even abroad, to go and look for a horse in the furthest point of the UK. Still, it is so worth it. If anything, you will have a brilliant holiday. Cornwall is stunningly beautiful. And you may find that horse you were looking for!
Top picture: the stallion High Hopes Condor (Caretino X Capitol I)
Second: mares and foals
Third: 6-year-old gelding by Bamako De Muze
Bottom: Cornwall is beautiful!