THE SOURCE FOR EVENTING HORSES Whether you are at a four-star event or an event at a local horse park, if you look at the roster of horses competing in any division, you are certain to see the prefix Fernhill in front of some of the names. This means these horses have been carefully selected, trained, or bred at the Fernhill yard in Kilkenny in southeastern Ireland. The owner, Carol Gee, took a few minutes to speak with EQ. What traits of Irish sport horses make them so suited for eventers? The Irish spor t horse (ISH) is renowned for its incredible temperament and rideability. They are a very tough and sound breed. Sometimes they are late to mature, but they have long careers, often eventing into their 20s. They can suit a great variety of riders, and those that do not make it to the top level are suitable for the amateur. Do you deal exclusively with them? I sell mainly ISH for all the reasons stated above. However I will buy a horse anywhere if I see a nice one! Fernhill Urco that was second in Rolex was a horse I bought in Por tugal. Above: Buck, Reggie, and Kathleen Blauth-Murray at her wedding.
Reggie IS nearly perfect. He is beautifully put together, talented, willing, and like a big pet dog, but he is all business at competitions. He’s a real professional. He knows when it’s game time, and he gets in his zone. Reggie gives his best effort every time out. I often say to myself midcourse, ‘I can’t believe I get to ride this horse!’” Buck also wants us to know how lucky he is to have Kathleen Blauth-Murray working with him to take care of Reggie. Kathleen rode Reggie down the aisle on her wedding day, and the horse calmly stood with Buck while she exchanged her vows. Buck feels strongly about giving back to the sport. Between competitions he travels the country to do clinics with aspiring riders and to attend smaller venues. Buck also shares a love and admiration of animals, from the horses he trains to his sidekick Jack Russell terrier. He serves on the board of FlyPups, a non-profit that is dedicated to transporting dogs to nonkill shelters where they can be prepared for adoption. It is clear that the sport of eventing is fortunate to have Buck as its ambassador.
How did you get started doing this? I rode from a very young age. My mother bought me ponies to keep me out of trouble. My father was amazing and spent all his spare time with us on the road. It was an expensive spor t, so we sold ponies to fund it. I just kept doing that until it eventually grew into Fernhill Spor t Horses. Where do you find them? Do you breed? I buy from many of the same breeders year after year. They have learned what I like and I have gotten to know the bloodlines that suit my job. We used to breed; my Mother loved the young stock. However, I learned early on that you can buy what you like, but you have to take what comes out when you breed. So I buy most of my horses as youngsters 3 or 4 years old. I have spotters all over Ireland that call me on a regular basis when they see something they know I’ll like. What do you look for in a horse? When I am looking for an event horse, attitude and temperament are very impor tant. I like to see a horse with purpose. One that marches out of his stall and is interested in his surroundings. Then, of course, they have to have three good paces, uphill confirmation, and a sharp front end when jumping. I like to see two crosses of Thoroughbred in the pedigree.
Where are your customers? From all corners of the globe. Last year Fernhill expor ted horses to China, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Belgium, and Poland. However the majority of our horses go to the U.S. and Italy. Irish horses are really well suited to American clients, and they easily adapt to a variety of climates. How do you match customers to horses when you have never met them? A lot of my business these days is from repeat clients, so that’s easy. Over the years I have learned what suits each client or trainer. With video and the internet these days, I can soon build a picture of what new clients are looking for, but we have such a variety of horses in the barn we usually have something to suit everyone. How does it feel when you see the roster at big events with so many Fernhill horses entered? Extremely exciting! I love to open my email on a Monday morning and read messages and see photos from all over the world about my horses’ achievements the previous weekend. There is a new rule now that requires anyone registering a horse with a prefix or suffix to pay an additional fee, so this could change the look of the scoreboard a bit. Do you have any suggestions for someone interested in coming to try your horses? We can pick up anyone at the airpor t and bring them to Fernhill. Car rental is inexpensive in Ireland for those who want to see a bit of the countryside, or I can organize a trip for them to see some Irish sights. We have an abundance of hotels in and around the city. The Kilkenny River Cour t is a beautiful hotel overlooking the castle. The Lyrath Estate has a lovely spa. Also not far is the renowned Mount Juliette Hotel, golf club, and spa for those that want to be a little indulgent.
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