Lindsay Graham – a rider whose talent allows her to be all things to all people
Lindsay Graham really is all things to all people. Slowly but surely, she is carving a successful business out of eventing both her own and client’s horses, producing young horses and also teaching. Her friendly manner and her positive approach to life make her someone that everyone wants to know, and she is working hard to achieve great things.
For many years, Lindsay worked at Anngrove stud with the Pimm family, and competed a small string of horses from their home in Mountmellick. In 2016 Lindsay decide to take the plunge and set up by herself at her father Gilbert’s family home in Rosenalis, Co Laois, and things are progressing nicely. Good results early this season, full stables and a phone that never stops ringing are testimony to the efforts of this hardworking and genuine family with a true love for the sport of eventing. Sponsors Whitstone Bedding and The Field Equestrian Centre complete the picture with their great support and excellent products. Two of Lindsay’s livery clients add to the day to day running of the yard and are vital cogs in the wheel. Lindsay’s mother Thelma is never without a smile and Shanbeg Sports Horses is the epitome of a team effort.
“I’d be lost without my mum and dad. They are the backbone of everything we do here. Mum is always here with me and dad is fantastic with advice-he always encourages me to be ambitious and think ahead”, said Lindsay.
Lindsay started horse riding at a young age and in time her parents bought her a ‘very naughty’ 14.2hh four year old. Lindsay got him going and she came across a mare called Mystic Meg through her work at Anngrove stud. They made a good start until Meg sadly succumbed to navicular, leaving Lindsay without a horse. Enter Ballymore Villa. Described by Lindsay as very sharp and quite tricky at times, the son of Ballinvella none the less started doing very well at riding club events. Encouraged by Sam and Aisling Deverell, Lindsay joined Eventing Ireland and so the story began.
In 2004, Ballymore Villa took Lindsay to Necarne where they finished in 26th position. Through 2005 and 2006, they competed up to O/CNC 2* level and finished their career together in 2007 with a 10th placing at the autumn Tattersalls event. Although Ballymore Villa tried very hard and gave Lindsay a good grounding and experience in the sport of eventing, more horsepower was needed to continue progressing. The search for a horse took Lindsay and her great friend Clare Steele (nee McKenna) to Derek McConnell’s yard, where they were due to look at three 3 yr old horses.
“We arrived to look at these horses and as we walked in, a horse at the end of the row of stables was kicking the door and making a fuss. He wasn’t one we were meant to view, but we walked down to see what the fuss was about. Straight away he was in dad’s pocket and he was all about himself. We looked at the other three horses which were lovely, but none compared to this one. We asked to see him out even though he was miles out of our budget. He was sensational. He took about three strides across the arena and I knew I had to have him”.
At the time, Lindsay didn’t know that she had stumbled upon her horse of a lifetime. Daragh Cullen (aka Mac) changed everything. The tall, precocious son of Don Juan De La Bouverie contested his first BE90 in 2008 at Ballindenisk. In 2009 he progressed up to novice level and began to place consistently in 5 and 6 year old 1* competitions, including a 12th placing at Tattersalls that year. In 2010 he moved up to 2* and again, his consistency and reliability shone through with solid results all season which included a 3rd place at Annaharvey.
In 2011, Mac finished 4th at Ballindenisk International in the 2* and in 2012 he finished 8th at the same event, as well as a credible 23rd place at Tattersalls in a very hot 2*. The only way was up from there, and together Lindsay and Mac contested their first 3* that year. 2013 saw this pair begin to consolidate their form at 3* level, and the last competition at that level that Mac contested was the World Cup qualifier at Ballindenisk. They finished 14th from a massive field of starters and were ahead of several top international 3 and 4* horses. This truly was the stuff of dreams. And then the lights went out. The eventing community was shocked when Mac met his end far too soon,at the height of his career and with so much more to give.
“He was amazing” said Lindsay. “I could trust him 100%, I could stand him off a mile or get him way too deep and he would always go, always try. Who else can say that they have had a horse that took them all the way to competitively contesting a World Cup qualifier? Amazing”.
Alongside Mac, Lindsay was also riding a smart mare called Graf After Eight. The mare did very well,consistently placing at 1* level before retiring to stud. Again Lindsay found herself with a void to fill, and along came Polly-aka Graf Maypole. Sourced through Suzanne Hagan, the stunning daughter of Metropole was on a one way ticket to Shanbeg. Polly got her career off to a winning start at Gurteen, and is currently at 1* level. Last year, Polly won the HSI mares championship at Lisgarvan and looks to be a real rising star. Lindsay trains with her good friend and former British Olympic eventing team member Sharon Hunt, and is always striving to improve. So what’s next?
“I’d like to build up a nice string of horses to event and to attract more owners” says Lindsay- “If I can produce and sell a number of horses every year to keep the show on the road, then that’s the ideal. There are so many excellent producers of horses in Ireland, so you must find a way to stand out ,to do something a little bit better.”
Lindsay is sponsored by Whitstone Animal Bedding, whose signature product is a pellet that expands by up to 500% when it comes into contact with liquid. The end result is a lovely clean and fluffy bed for an very economical price, with minimal mess or waste. Whitstone Animal Bedding have now expanded into the feed market, which includes Timothy grass hay pellets, cold pressed linseed, hemp or rapeseed oil, alfalfa bricks and much more. You can contact them or view the product range on line or on Facebook.
Lindsay is also sponsored by The Field Equestrian Centre in Ballyadams, Stradbally. Robert Owens has built a fantastic cross country schooling track on an all-weather surface, as well as a large outdoor arena with a full set of showjumps. The Field is the perfect venue for educating a green horse or schooling an older one, and with excellent membership packages available it is the most affordable venue. You can find contact details and information on their Facebook page. Everyone from Olympic competitors through to hobby riders are welcome, and you never know which horsey celebrity you might bump into-regulars include (amongst many others) Camilla Spiers, Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson, Mike and Patricia Ryan-and of course, Lindsay herself.
Lindsay is an in demand trainer and is completely unique in that despite being a professional rider herself, she is so accessible and she is every bit as happy teaching beginner riders as she is teaching those up the levels. Her positive and supportive attitude instils huge confidence in both horses and riders alike, and her aim of teaching any rider is that they must leave the lesson feeling that they have achieved something good. With such depth of experience ,Lindsay is quick to spot things that can be improved upon and has an arsenal of solutions at the ready. She is unfailingly generous with her time, and is very invested in her role as a trainer.
It is said that the sun shines on the righteous. This girl has plans.