When Ilona English wanted to replace her very first horse she felt it was a good time to consider breeding horses. For the past 26 years she has been building the breeding program she started with the purchase of her first Thoroughbred mare, Party Doll, in 1987. When she purchased Party Doll she knew she was in foal but was unaware the mare was carrying twins. Although it was a challenging experience for a first time breeder both of the foals survived and became great riding horses. From that point forward she was hooked on breeding sporthorses.
Party Doll was one of the three thoroughbred mares English considers to be the foundation of her breeding program. Their daughters, granddaughters and soon to be great granddaughters are still a significant part of the breeding program of Summit Sporthorses. She believes crossing these thoroughbred mares with Warmblood stallions has been critical to their success. She takes a very hands on approach with her horses and takes great satisfaction in being present to deliver each and every one.
Breeding modern sporthorses suitable for all disciplines is the goal of Summit Sporthorses. Foals are handled daily from birth and benefit from daily turnout on lush green, large pastures. Cross training their horses and ponies is also a vital part of their training program. This allows them to become better, solid athletes and helps to keep them strong mentally. They don’t focus on any one discipline. They currently have horses and ponies competing and succeeding in dressage arenas, over cross country courses, hunter classes, and driving competitions.
Ilona takes pride in the fact that 74% of their foals are Premium Foals when presented for approval. They are currently focusing on putting their mares through Mare Performance Testing and are pleased that all have passed with high scores, four of them qualifying for Elite Status. All of the mares bred by Summit Sporthorses have been approved in the main mare books for both the Oldenburg and Westfalen registries with over half of them receiving Premium Mare Awards.
When deciding to expand their breeding program they purchased the 2002 Westfalen Pony Stallion, Popeye (FS Pour l'Amour – Night Star I – Nobel), which has proven to be a very wise decision. Expansion of their program also included the importation of several German Riding Pony mares from Germany. Popeye, who has competed through 4th Level dressage, has been very successful in producing high quality ponies from these mares and their daughters.
Summit Sporthorses first contacted SBS for their opinion about a proper storage tank for frozen semen they would be purchasing from other stallions. When they decided to purchase Popeye in Germany they solicited the services of SBS North Germany in Luesche, Germany. Popeye was being shipped to the United States but they wanted semen in storage prior to his departure and then it was eventually exported to the United States as well. Since his arrival in the United States Popeye has stood at Hilltop Farm, Inc. in Colora, Maryland which retains the services of SBS World Headquarters for their cooled and frozen semen services.
For the past 13 years Summit Sporthorses has used frozen semen as a substitute for fresh semen and also to supplement fresh semen breedings when timing and shipping issues arise.
“Utilizing frozen semen is advantageous when working with mares that may have unusual cycles and shipping semen is problematic. It also affords the ability to breed to stallions that are now deceased or are actively competing and cannot be collected. SBS has extremely knowledgeable and professional staff that are always available to answer questions. They are proactive at providing clear and concise information on protocols as well as current methods and standards. Having numerous locations around the world is also helpful as breeders are shipping semen worldwide.”
Acknowledgements for photos of Popeye: Sarah Andrew, courtesy of Hilltop Farm (top), Brant Gamma Photography, courtesy of Summit Sporthorses (middle) and Hilltop Farm (bottom).