A class apart for three decades
A Limerick family has made a global impact in eventing
The Leonard family name has been synonymous with top event horses for years, with the likes of Ringwood Cockatoo, Ballingowan Pizazz and Ballynoe Castle RM all gaining worldwide acclaim in the sport over the past decade.
Though all boasting separate prefixes, there is very much a strong connection between them, having all been sourced and produced by Peter, Ann (O'Grady) and Terence Leonard.
For over 30 years now, the siblings have been consistently turning out top sport horses from their three separate bases in Co Limerick, although the home farm of Ringwood Stud continues to be the core of the operation to this day.
On returning from Switzerland in the mid-1980s, Peter began working closely with his father, the late Michael, and soon built up a reputation as the first point of call for a young event horse. He now runs the business with his wife Erika.
"Dad bought them in as foals or three-year-olds, and we always had something nice for eventing or the show ring. Over the years we won almost every ridden hunter and side-saddle championship at Dublin," Peter commented.
Among the first young event horses to have left Ringwood Stud was On A Mission, the mount of American rider David O'Connor in the 1994 World Equestrian Games. Another was the Red Baron, a member of the Swiss eventing team with the late Max Hauri.
A lot of horses had left Ringwood before it was decided to register the prefix, after which graduates would be easily recognisable.
"We eventually registered the prefix in 1990 and one of the first to bear the name was Ringwood Cockatoo," Peter commented. "He was bought in Cavan as a three-year-old and won the young event horse class as a four-year-old under Ann. He was later sold to Max Hauri and from there to Germany, where he was ridden by Bettina Hoy."