I WAS brought up in Ballsbridge as a small child, moving later to Seapoint. Always fond of animals, my first visit to the Horse Show, at the age of five, was in 1952. I instantly fell in love with it.

There were plenty of horses in the Dublin of my childhood: milk floats and bread vans were horse drawn, as were many other vehicles. My school was on Mespil Road, close to Kellett’s Riding School.

My great friend at school, Pat Price, lived on a farm in Jobstown in Co. Dublin, I learnt to ride on her donkey, Neddy, and afterwards on her pony, Florin. The years passed, Pat married William Swandel, from Northern Ireland, and I was godmother to their daughter Gillian.

I studied Librarianship at Queen’s University, worked in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, returning to Dublin in 1977, and retiring from Dublin Public Libraries in 2007.

Gillian grew up and she married David Lyons, from a well-known showing family. It was at David’s suggestion that I bought my first filly foal, Enniskeane Flight (Big Sink Hope - Enniskeane Flash), in 2002.

Gillian and David have kept all my mares in their home near Ballynahinch in Co. Down. In 2010 Enniskeane Flight’s foal, Timpany Flight Hero (Cult Hero), won the All Ireland three-year-old championship at Bannow & Rathangan.

The next mare was Piltown Lass (Flagmount King - Glendaloughlin Blazer), bought in foal to Nigrasine in 2006. She came fourth in the Breeders Championship in 2007, her foal, Timpany King (Nigrasine) won his class and the thoroughbred-sired class.

He, like several of his siblings, was sold to England, and like them, has been successful in the show ring there.

Slatequarry Sasha (Ghareeb - Ordinary Girl) was the next mare to do us proud, winning championships at Dublin and Balmoral. Her first foal, Timpany Sapphire (Emperor Augustus), went on to an eventing career with Robert Sirch in Germany. Of course, it hasn’t all been unalloyed triumph over the last 20 years, there have been disappointments and disasters along the way too, but “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery ...” Jane Austen.

Winning owner Paula Howard being interviewed at Dublin Horse Show 2016 by Michael Slavin \ Susan Finnerty

1. Proudest moment as a breeder?

Winning The Irish Field Breeders Championship in 2016 at the R.D.S with Slatequarry Sasha and her colt foal Timpany Casanova (Greenan Fort).

Sasha went on to win the broodmare championship and Coote Cup the following day, to our great delight.

Over the years, several Timpany foals have done very well in hunter classes in England, winning at shows such as Royal Windsor, Stoneleigh, Hickstead, and the National Hunter Supreme Championship Show.

Last year Timpany Imperial (Emperor Augustus - Piltown Lass) had a very successful showing season, ridden by Oliver Hood.

2. How many broodmares do you currently own?

At present I own two broodmares: Dernahatten Out of Touch (Bienamado - Tirnamona Ellie) and Russian Roulette IV (Langaller Starring Role - Russia With Love).

3. What’s your aim as a breeder?

We sell on youngstock as foals, and the aim is to produce well-bred, correct, straight moving, strong healthy foals, with good bone.

4. Describe your regime for keeping broodmares/youngstock.

Mares and foals are kept out as much as possible. Good quality feed and plenty of hay or haylage when grass is no longer sufficient is essential, as are supplements in the form of licks.

Regular worming and regular farrier visits are also important. The foals have usually been sold by September or October.

The mares stay out until November or December, depending on the weather. They are then brought in until foaling, and bedded on straw.

5. Do breeders get enough recognition?

Breeders take big risks. So much can go wrong, mares can abort their foals, they can be difficult to get into foal, the mare or the foal can be lost at foaling, the chosen stallion may not nick well with the mare.

The whole enterprise can be expensive and uncertain, that said, to see any horse you have bred go on and do well is a great source of pride to any breeder, and the best possible reward.

6. What’s your opinion on “markets for horses”?

Great emphasis is laid on eventing and showjumping, recent changes to the Breeders Championship bear witness to this. A total of 52,715 foals were registered with Horse Sport Ireland from 2009 to 2018, not all have gone on to be successful eventers, showjumpers or show horses!

The majority of horses we breed find homes in the leisure market here, or across the water. Those who ride for pleasure appreciate well-bred, well-produced horses and are willing to pay for them. The possibilities of this much larger market and of finding ways to connect these riders with suitable horses should be more thoroughly explored.

7. If you could have bred any horse, which one would it be?

King of Diamonds, an Irish Draught, our native breed. He had a huge influence on the breeding of so many successful performance horses. Many of our best mares today have King of Diamonds in their pedigrees.

8. “It takes a team”, who’s on yours?

Gillian and David Lyons, with their daughters, Janet, Judith and Caroline pitching in at times. They do all the work, and all credit is due to them for their watchful care and attention to the mares and foals down all the years. Thanks to them, the horses are produced and shown to a very high standard.

I just stand around on show days, holding hats and headcollars, getting under everyone’s feet and being sworn at!

9. Best advice you ever got?

Keep a sense of proportion, do the best you can, and remember your manners!

10. Your thoughts on prefixes?

Without breeders there would be no horses to buy, breeders are the bedrock of the horse world. Breeders choose their prefixes and names with great care, making it possible to follow a horse’s subsequent career.

Future owners should not be allowed to change the name on a horse’s passport, or delete/replace its prefix without the express permission of the breeder and Horse Sport Ireland.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to those who buy an unnamed horse.