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Celebrating Mares - Nadonna

#ShareYourMare – DV Stenkjers Nadonna

To celebrate the launch of Simplymare, we have brought together stories of special mares from our riders, our team and horse owners from all disciplines.  We will be sharing their experiences and knowledge to help you get the very best from your mare, build a bond and create a long lasting partnership.

Name: DV Stenkjers NaNadonnadonna

Stable Name: Donna

Year of Birth: 1998

Height: 16.1

Sire: Donnerschlag

Owner: Jane Brewin & Kevin Sparrow

Nadonna represented Great Britain at the 2013 European Championships in Herning and in 2014 won silver at the World Equestrian Games with Gareth Hughes.  Jane’s husband, Kevin Sparrow shares her story.

How long have you owned Donna?

Donna was imported by Greta Rickets when she was 4 years old, from Denmark.  By then she had already had a foal so she was little late in starting.

At that time, Jane was a livery of Greta’s in Buckinghamshire.  Jane really liked the look of Nadonna but it was when she sat on board that she knew she was a wonderful ride. Greta was selling her and said ‘do you want to buy her ‘and Jane did.

Did you know at that stage how special she was?

At this stage no, we didn’t know how special she was.

Jane and ‘Donna’  became liveries with Judy Harvey and one day, Stephen Clarke, FEI Judge General, happened be going there training and looking at all of Judy’s horses.   Jane was riding Donna and Stephen picked her out saying, ‘that’s the one I’d have’.   So really, that’s what’s driven us.  If Stephen Clarke thinks it’s good then it probably is!’

Who then competed her?

Roland Tong then competed her and took her up to small tour dressage.  He won the Novice Open at the National Dressage Championships when she was 6 and the Novice Open Music Freestyle.

The pair won the Hickstead Dressage Elementary Championships in 2005, the Elementary Open and Elementary Open Music Freestyle at the British Dressage Winter Championships 2006.

Pippa Fisher then competed her, taking her from small tour to grand prix.

When did Gareth Hughes take over the ride?

By then, we had moved to Gareth’s yard at the old Broadstone Stud, near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.    After a few months, Gareth asked to sit on her.  Now Donna is only 16 hands and Gareth is 6ft 3 so it really shouldn’t work but it did and he started riding her.   Under Gareth’s instruction, there was a lot of work to do.  If Gareth said I want her working over poles for 6 months she did exactly that Between Owen Cooper, an event rider and dressage rider, also based at the yard, and Jane they did a lot of strengthening work on Donna.

Jane has always ridden her, mainly at the weekends and certainly not before competitions but it was definitely a team effort.

Gareth then started riding her and competed her with great results.  They were 2nd in the Intermediate  II class at Myerscough Premier League in 2011 beaten by Gareth himself with his own horse, Sandman.  They were also 2nd at Inter II that year at the Nationals.   After that, they did  nothing but Grand Prix classes, taking 1st place in the Grand Prix Special in Hartpury CDI in July 2011.

What would you say was her greatest achievement?

Her greatest achievement was certainly winning silver medal at WEG 2014 almost scraping 70% and winning the Grand Prix at the WEG Test Event.

She didn’t do so well in Herning 2013 at the European Championships though, but we learned a lot. She had competed in UK about 12 days before and she is a mare that you can’t compete too much.   When she steps off a lorry at a competition she know that she’s there to compete but it does fizz her head.  She is by Donnerschlag and they all are a little bit like that. They can be a bit fizzy.

How do you cope with that? 

We normally feed her Regumate two days before a competition and that helps.   Basically it’s about management.    We tend not to take her off the lorry or out of the stables until she’s needed at competitions.

What would be her best qualities?

Honestly, she’s the horse that you would take into battle with you because she would die for you….. that’s if you have the bond.   She’s not scared by much except cows which she hates with a passion.  Although, sometimes she’ll see a cow and totally ignore it – it’s in her head!

What would you say to a horse owner looking to buy a mare or has one and is struggling?

Mares are wonderful and if you are going to buy one buy the best that you can afford… we did.  And would we have another mare… yes of course we would.

You’ve got to realise that this is an entire horse though.   I believe that there’s not that much difference between owning a mare and owning a stallion.  Regumate helps.  We originally kept her on it for quite a while.  But we actually found that the trick with her was to put it in a couple of days before a show.   They say it doesn’t work very quickly but with her it did.

We ran out of Regumate at a show in France once and she decided that she would throw a considerable strop for about 6 hours.  She doesn’t like other horses looking at her!

We moved her into a temporary stable and she seemed much happier. Unfortunately at about 10pm that night, she was heard again.  They thought the horse around the corner to her was a gelding but it was actually a Portuguese stallion!  She’s never had great taste in men, so ping she came into season.

When did Gareth stop competing her?

Gareth rode Donna from 2011 to 2014 when we decided to retire her. She had achieved a lot and we wanted her to retire sound as she was initially purchased as a riding club horse.  The rest of it has been by sheer coincidence.

She’s ridden at home four times a week and is perfectly sound.  We were told by the Vet to keep her going or she will seize up.  I have seen her do passage around the field when there’s some cow around!

So what’s next?

We have decided to breed from her. She has a foal in a recipient mare in Devon at Lorna Wilson Stud.   We have enough acreage to keep the mare but we have no knowledge of how to foal one.   Lorna has foaled over 65, so it’s a no brainer.  It’s by De Niro and due on 26th May.  It will be interesting to see what she passes on.  She’s a strong mare and hopefully will pass that on to her off spring.

Further reading




#ShareYourMare – We would love to hear from you.   What is that makes your mare special?  What do you love about her?    For the next six months, we will be highlighting our favourite stories to be the ‘Mare of the Month’.  The winners will receive a supply of Simplymare for their horse and goodies from the Simply Nutrition range, plus their story will be featured on the home page of our website.

If you would like to share your story, please email competition@equilibriumproducts.com #ShareYourMare