Originally Written 2015 – Updated 2022
Hools Shetland Pony Stud is run by Kelly Peace assisted by her Mum Jane and with the trusted guidance of her ninety-three year old Grandmother Ivy. The stud consists of approximately 24 Standard Black Shetland Ponies used for breeding, showing, riding and driving.
The Stud began in 1958 on Hools Farm in South Ronaldsay, Orkney, by my grandmother Ivy Edith Mathers Cromarty along with her eldest son Arthur and daughter Jane. They bought a Black Shetland Pony Filly, Shona of Lynn (5455M) from Scotty Watson of the Lynn Stud in Kirkwall, Orkney.
In 1960 ‘Shona of Lynn’ (005455M) Sire ‘Majestic of Lynn’ (001566S), Dam ‘Sunray Girl’ (005214M), had the 1st registered Hools Shetland Pony foal, a filly – ‘Hope of Hools’ sired by ‘Spear of Marshwood’ (001675S) pictured right. He sired the 1st 3 Hools Ponies, ‘Hope’ in 1960, ‘Harra Broo’ & ‘Helga of Hools’ in 1961.
In 1962 Scotty Watson put Ivy in touch with Mrs Cox from the famous Marshwood Stud where she purchased 2 ponies, ‘Janet’ and ‘Jacinth of Marshwood’. Ivy also received the Premium Stallion ‘Spaniard of Marshwood’ as a gift from Mrs Cox due to his bad behaviour when in Shetland. He was prone to jumping into people’s gardens and eating their cabbages! This was a stroke of luck for Ivy as he produced some top quality progeny as well as winning the local County Show 3 times.
‘Janet of Marshwood’ (5568M), was born in 1958, sired by ‘Sprinter of Marshwood’ (1423S) and out of ‘Jane of Marshwood’ (5277M).
‘Janet’ was the main foundation mare for the stud, her lines are still found in the stud to this day. ‘Janet’ produced 12 foals for Hools, including ‘Janey of Hools’ (7146M). She was born June, 2 1968, Sired by ‘Fireless of Marshwood’ (1849S), she was a versatile Shetland, she could turn her hoof to anything including lead rein, first ridden, broodmare and was Overall Champion at local shows numerous times. She even appeared in a 1984 copy of The National Geographic Magazine, being ridden by Kristen (Ivy’s granddaughter) in the lead rein class at the county show, wearing welly boots and holding on for dear life! She was mostly shown by Arthur Cromarty, son of Ivy. Arthur and his wife Laura took over Hools Farm in 1974, where his commitments altered to breed and show Limousin cattle (more viable than ponies – he says!), however the stud continued with Ivy’s daughter Jane Elizabeth Peace (nee Cromarty).
My mum, Jane got her first pony ‘Betty’ at the age of three. She remembers Hools ponies had always been used to help around the farm, including helping out one very stormy winter taking coal, candles and essential groceries to residents in the nearby fishing village of Herston at low tide as all the roads were blocked with snow, mum remembers it well…time off school!
As soon as she finished the grammar school she was the first Orkney girl to go to Edinburgh to train as an animal nurse at nineteen years old. Before starting her course she spent 5 months working with the celebrated pony breeder Mrs Cox at her Marshwood Stud at Castle Douglas. Jobs included exercising the famous Marshwood driving ponies as well as preparing and training the ponies for shows. It was really hard work but a great experience.
Jane was also fortunate enough to be invited along with Ivy to the Holland Centenary Show by the Dutch Stud Society in the 1966, so off they set taking a flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam! The programme was outstanding hosting a great variety of showing classes, driving, pony gymkhana and a pageant. Something that they had never experienced before and will never forget!
The stud took a back seat with her at the helm, as her time was spent taking me to pony club and helping my dad with his thoroughbred horses.
Greek mythology had its flying horse, Pegasus, but so did we…. In 1966 ‘Orkney Wedding of Hools’ (5994) a skewbald filly foal, Sire ‘Florin’ (1851S) and out of ‘Illona of Hools’ (005994M), was the first Shetland pony to fly on Faroes Airways from Kirkwall to Copenhagen where she was sold to Mr & Mrs Jantzen of Rytegaard, Denmark.
Then in the spring of 1967 Mr & Mrs Jantzen purchased a black colt ‘Spaniardson of Hools’ (1954S). Born in 1964 ‘Spaniardson’ was sired by ‘Spaniard of Marshwood’ (1484S) and out of ‘Janet of Marshwood’ (5568M). Ivy was invited to Denmark in March 1968 where she showed ‘Spaniardson’ at the Danish Stallion Show where he was judged best 4yr old Stallion.
I guess I was destined to follow in my granny and mother’s footsteps as from the age of two I got my first Shetland pony gelding ‘Scapa Too’. Purchased from the late Archie Jamieson of the Scapa Stud, Orkney, which has now sadly dispersed.
I continued to ride, show and drive until I was eighteen when I moved away from Orkney. I returned in 2007 and naturally fell back into the stud. I wanted to put my own stamp on the breeding, after seeking advice from my grandmother we both set off to the Aberdeen Sale in October where she introduced me to her late friend Harry C Sleigh. He invited us along to St Johns Wells for tea with his wife Ann and afterwards we were shown around his famous Wells ponies. Amazed at the quality of Harry’s ponies my first question was ‘do you have any for sale?’ He picked out a 5 year old filly, ‘Wells Perrier’ Sired by ‘Wells Royal Command’ and out of ‘Wells Patience’ – this was to be my own foundation mare.
As well as purchasing ‘Perrier’ I thought it would be good to reintroduce old bloodlines back into the stud. After lots of researching, emailing and phone calls to various people, we traced down two fillies that stemmed back to ‘Judith of Hools’ daughter of ‘Janet of Marshwood’ – my Grannies most successful mare. These ponies were bred by George & Barbara Tait of the Merkisayre Stud in Shetland. Everyone knows George loves his ponies, hence it took a lot of begging to acquire ‘Merkisayre Poppy’ and ‘Merkisayre Be-Bo’.
In 2009 with a mix of old and new ponies Granny, Mum and myself travelled north to Shetland to attend the S.P.S.B.S Breed Show, the first to be held in the Isles. We had success with ‘Merkisayre Poppy’ who won a strong black 3 year old filly class. After the class George Tait sneaked into our pen and tried to take Poppy back to his pen, claiming he had sold the wrong pony!
2010 saw the arrival of my first foals, two fillies and three colts all sired by ‘Wells Highlight II’, five times Royal Highland Show Champion.
The most successful has been ‘Hools Rising High’ (Wells Fyona x Wells Highlight II). After passing his stallion assessment he was leased to June Brown’s Shoormal Stud in Shetland as a 3 year old winning two Championships at the three shows he attended. ‘Rising High’ was lightly backed for riding in 2014 and continued his showing career with success, travelling to The National Stallion Show at Ingliston in 2015 getting 2nd in a big class. He also won Orkney Horse of the Year 2015, an amazing achievement going against so many different breeds and riders.
He competed in the ridden M&M at the prestigious Blair Horse Trials in 2016 followed by winning Overall Reserve Champion Shetland Pony at the Royal Highland Show in 2017. ‘Risings’ ridden career highlight came in 2019 when he qualified and competed at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.
In 2013 the hard work of researching old bloodlines really paid off. The Hools ‘J’ line was reborn with the filly ‘Hools Janet‘. Sired by ‘Wells Masterclass’ and out of ‘Merkisayre Poppy’. ‘Janet’ has done well in the show ring winning several Championships at various shows. As with ‘Rising High’, ‘Janet’ is broken to ride, she competed in the Lead Rein class at the 2019 Royal Highland Show.
She is the type of Shetland pony we are aiming to breed with good bone, substance & movement, perfect for showing, breeding and performance work.
She has bred 3 super foals, 2 Fillies – one which was exported to Germany, and a Colt.
We have also broken several ponies for riding, ‘Heather of Hools’, ‘Hools Ann’, ‘Strocherie Ennya’, ‘Hools Eudora’, ‘Hools High Definition’ and ‘Hools Major High’ to name a few. ‘Ennya’ has been the most triumphant winning serval lead rein championships and even competing at the illustrious NPS Scottish Finals at Blair Castle. Her son ‘Hools Major High’ followed in her footsteps, he was ridden by my daughter Layla. He has also been ridden by a 10 year old and competed in the Riding Club Dressage League. In the winter of 2015 he trained to be a driving pony, showing how versatile he is.
4th Generation – The Future
My daughter Layla was born in 2012, and was quickly involved, every morning after getting up she would look out the window and count the ponies! At 18 months she started riding ‘Ennya’ and then moved onto to ‘Major High’. She’s competed at shows in Orkney and Shetland as well as being one of the youngest persons to take part in the historic tradition of the Riding of the Marches, an event where roughly 100 riders ride around the boundary of Kirkwall every August. Her biggest success early on, (apart from making the front cover of the S.P.S.B.S magazine winter 2014), was winning the Lead Rein Class at the local riding club Winter Woolie Show 2015. Hopefully she will remain interested and ride/drive many more Hools bred ponies with one day taking over the stud….
In 2020 sadly my Grandmother Ivy passed away aged 97. Ivy’s lifelong love of ponies and her enthusiasm for the breed has been passed down through the generations. With her daughter’s Toots and Jane, granddaughter Kelly and great-granddaughter Layla all having an active role in the stud. Her proudest moment was on home soil at the Orkney County Show in 1965, when Hools Stud won every class bar the foal class!
After a few years of admiring coloured ponies around the countryside, Layla received a Piebald Shetland Mare for her 8th Birthday from her Grandmother Jane, ‘Mill of Towie Megan’. She was in Foal to a black Stallion ‘Hools Mischief’. She had her filly Foal in 2020 called ‘Hools Ocean’.
In August 2022, Layla was finally able to Show ‘Megan’ for the first time achieving 3rd in the Yeld Mare class at the East Mainland Show.
Layla hopes to cross her Piebalds with her Mothers black stallions to start her own herd……watch this space!
To date (2022) there has been 208 foals registered with the S.P.S.B.S.
Since 1958 the stud has won the Champion Shetland Pony at the Orkney County Show 12 times with 8 Reserve Champions, 6 Supreme Overall Horse and 3 Reserve Supremes.
In 2015 Hools won Supreme Horse, Champion Shetland and Reserve Shetland, Hools last achieved that same result in 1965!
In 2022 Hools won Supreme Horse, Champion Shetland, Reserve Shetland and Junior Champion with all Homebred Ponies.