How one woman realised her dream of owning and breeding coloured sport horses
Barbara Keller's ambition to own and breed coloured sport horses is bearing fruit
Only a handful of coloured horses ever graced the international eventing and showjumping circuits, and those that do usually gather the attention of competitors and spectators alike.
One such horse is Right to Play's Jack Sparrow, a flashy Irish-bred piebald now competing at two-star level in eventing with Andrew Hoy across the Irish Sea.
For owner Barbara Keller, little seeds have quickly blossomed into an enterprise which has seen this promising youngster and many others join the growing team of coloured sport horses representing Hasenacher Stud in her native Switzerland.
It was a chance encounter with Kildare-based horse producer Edie Murray-Hayden some years ago that led to Ms Keller realising her dream - to own and breed coloured sport horses.
"Edie was introduced to me through Sheila and the late Brian Grassick of Newtown Stud," she said. "We just clicked once we started talking horses, and it wasn't long before a conversation about my love for coloureds soon turned into a business proposal."
It is not surprising that Ms Keller has a life-long connection with Ireland having lived at Cleaboy Stud for many years with her late husband, Patrick Clarke.
A well-known owner of thoroughbreds in training here with John Oxx, she is delighted to be able to strengthen that bond with Ireland even further through her new venture into the Irish and European sport horse industry.
"Switzerland has a lot of bay and brown horses, and so I wanted to do something different when I set up the stud," Ms Keller continued. "My sole aim starting out was to source, breed and produce coloured horses for top competition using the best stallions and mares available.