Name: Kirsty Stuart
Lives: Gransha Equestrian Centre
Siblings: Courtney Stuart
Qualifications: BHS II
• Competed internationally up to 1* level eventing, finishing 4th on Antwerp Honey Bee at Necarne International 3 day event 2001.
• RUAS Balmoral Working Hunter Champion with Gransha’s Lord of the Ring 2003
• Irish Novice and Elementary National Dressage Champion with General Gist 2011
• 4 year old Young Dressage Horse National Champion with Shalako 2013
• Member of the Horse Sport Ireland Talent Development Squad 2014
Brought up with horses from day 1, my parents bought a farm which they turned into a small riding school and livery yard. I was encouraged to try a selection of disciplines and by the age of 12 had build up a strong bond with a 13hh pony called Parkhill Bobby Dazzler. He excelled in Working Hunter and won the Ponies UK Derby in 1997.
I had great success eventing a 15hh mare called Antwerp Honey Bee, we had many wins under our belt at junior level and enjoyed competing at 1* level.
After completing my A-levels I took a job as a working pupil at the world renowned Talland School of Equitation. Within a year I had passed my British Horse Society stages 1-4 and my PTT. Under the watchful eye of Pammy Hutton I developed my love for all things dressage. I met some incredible people during my stay and had the privilege of grooming for a member of the Paralympic dressage team at the European Championships in Hungary.
Back in Ireland the family business had expanded considerably and I felt it was a good time for me to return home and esbablish a name for myself. I passed my Intermediate teaching test and acquired the ride of a young irish sport horse called General Gist. Shrek was a 5 year old when he arrived with no dressage experience back in 2010, since then he has won two irish national titles at novice and elementary level, competed successfully in England and is now working at Prix St George.
In 2014 Horse Sport Ireland set up a Talent Development squad. The squad is made up of dressage riders, showjumpers and eventers. Myself and my sister are on the dressage squad. Each month we receive training in the classroom and with our horses. It is a fantastic scheme and the level of training is top class.
The most inspirational person in my life is my mother, a successful competition rider in her earlier years she has been my mentor and trainer throughout my competition life and a constant supporter of my career. She has turned Gransha into one of the top competition venues in the north of Ireland and has an excellent eye for a good horse, not to mention her talent at course building and design.
At Gransha we buy and breed a selection of quality young horses. My passion is discovering what these horses’ natural talents are and with the correct training and management turning them into top class equine athletes. I believe my jumping background and my attention to detail on the flat creates a winning combination.
Kirsty Stuart, a history in horses…
Growing up at my mothers riding school I was set up on ponies from a very young age. I was encouraged to try all disciplines and ponies were generally bought at a young age and with the help of my mum we brought them on.
Whatever the ponies excelled at tended to be the direction I went with them. This picture shows one of my earliest memories. Lead rein on Goldy with my Papa.
As the name suggested he loved jumping and gave me lots of confidence.
When I outgrew Poppy my mum found a young 13hh pony. He was very nervous at the beginning and Bobby and I did lots of showing and working hunter at novice level in the early days. His show name was ‘Parkhill Bobby Dazzler.’ At this stage my mum also had a young 15hh mare called Penny.
It was at the age of ten years old that I got my first taste of competing in England. Summer holidays consisted of two months touring around England with Penny and Bobby, competing at shows such as BSPS and Ponies UK. Emma McArthur did a fantastic job with Penny and it was only a few years down the line I realized just how amazing she was.
Bobby and I formed a very strong partnership and among the many titles he took, the Ponies UK Derby still remains etched on my mind. He really was a fantastic pony.
As I grew out of Bobby another young project came along, this time a grey pony called ‘Gransha’s Gerry Mouse.’ This pony blossomed into a top class working hunter champion and taught me a lot of valuable lessons on how to be patient and sympathetic while training a young pony.
For a short while I had a coloured pony called ‘Harry.’ He was a tricky character but we did qualify and compete at Hickstead together in the working hunter class.
We began eventing that summer and loved every minute of it. Together we competed at three international 1* events. The first of these was at Necarne Castle. We were in the lead after the dressage and cross country but rolled two poles in the show jumping and dropped to 4th.
The following year we returned to Necarne but parted company two fences from home on the cross country. Not being put off by this we entered for Burgie Horse Trials in Scotland. I was in the middle of my A-levels at the time so flew over only a day before the dressage.
I remember walking the course thinking will my little 15hh mare ever manage this, the fences were huge!
She put her heart and soul into it and brought me home safely and clear. She didn’t finish in the ribbons but for me it was a huge achievement and seemed a fitting time to retire her from eventing.
She was 17 then and I was beginning to feel too tall for her. She went on to introduce my sister and cousin to the exciting world of dressage and still out-trots anything else we have in the yard at the age of 29.
My transition to horses was made easy when my mum bought a lovely 3 year old called Frodo or ‘Gransha’s Lord of the Ring.’ As a four year old he won the Young Event Horse Final and as a five year old won the Working Hunter Championship at Balmoral before going on to finish 2nd in the working hunter class at Dublin Horse Show.
Ralph was another 3 year old bought and produced before being sold to Germany to go eventing.
In 2011 I was asked to give my opinion on a young horse called ‘General Gist.’ Shrek was rising 5 then and was bred to show jump.
He is now 8 and has been in residence at our yard since then! In his first season he won the novice title at our national championships and returned the following year to win the elementary title.
We travelled to Hartpury Dressage Festival in 2012 where he finished 2nd in his first test at medium level. He is working at Prix St George now and is a pleasure to train.
By the famous jumping stallion ‘Arko’ this bay gelding won the Young Horse Class as a four year old at the National Dressage Championships at Cavan. He is now showjumping professionally in the south of Ireland.
My latest project is an irish bred 4 year old by Carrick Diamond Lad, she has campaigned in the Young Event Horse qualifiers and will be aimed at the Young Horse class at the national dressage championships in September 2014.