It was with a huge amount of sadness that we had to have our foundation stallion Burley Branston put to sleep at the end of March 2016 at the age of twenty three.
He had been with us since a weaned foal and joined us to be a Forest run stallion. He ran out every summer (and two winters to prove his hardiness) until he was eight. When the number of stallions on the Forest was drastically reduced, we decided to keep him at home. We chose our best Forest run mares as wives for him. That was the start of our stud bred Hollybrooke New Forest ponies.
As the photos above show, he was an absolutely amazing ridden pony. To say that he was my pony of a lifetime is a huge understatement. I had so much fun with him and did things I never imagined I would do.
We won as an individual at the Riding Club dressage championships (he also scored an amazing 10 at the area qualifier) We were second in the Quadrille of the year at Olympia. He went into the arena at Olympia as though he had done it every day of his life. He ran in the New Forest Point to Point numerous times always finishing in the top three and winning on several occasions. He had fantastic stamina, galloping three miles with ease and finishing with his ears pricked. He always looked after me. Not once did he give me a scary moment, even when others racing with me fell in unseen ditches and bogs. He always had his thinking head on and avoided the hazards that I didn't even see. He would go out a couple of days later to do dressage as if he had never done anything exciting.
He was fantastic on the pony roundups catching the wildest and most cunning ponies usually in spite of the rider who needed to hang onto some mane just to stay with him. John sometimes rode him to catch ponies. With him in the saddle, he found at least one extra gear and flew across the Forest at a terrifying speed twisting and turning with the ponies he was driving. When they pulled up I was never sure who had the biggest grin John or the pony.
He had a huge jump and although I was past the age of wanting to do a lot of jumping, he never stopped or ran out at anything I ever asked him to jump. He won the combined training at the Breed Show in two consecutive years and when he went in the ring to jump on the second occasion he had not jumped a fence since we rode out of the same arena the year before.
He was graded with the Breed Society at elementary level for dressage and level 2 for jumping. He had such a generous temperament and he just got on with whatever we asked him to do. He did have an enormous buck and was often the circus act at the beginning of the round ups. John would tell me off for laughing when he did it and often told me I would’t be laughing when I fell off! He was absolutely right but somehow when I got to the point of thinking if he does one more I will fall off he seemed to know and stopped. The only time I ever fell off him he was standing still!
As a stallion he far exceeded our expectations, it was never intended that he would be a sire of show ponies but he sired Hollybrooke Sparkle who gave us our first ever New Forest championship and was the champion mare at the grading in 2015. Hollybrooke Chutney who gave us our first ever Breed Show win and is the mother of the 2015 Picton final winner. Hollybrooke Melitta multiple New Forest Show and Breed Show winner and champion mare at the Breed Show in 2015 and 2016. Hollybrooke Ginger twice young gelding champion at the Breed Show and prolific dressage winner. Hollybrooke Dazzle three times a Breed Show winner (in hand, under saddle and in dressage). He also produced many competition and family ponies Hollybrooke Cappuccino, Jubilee, Astra, Aristocrat, Brown Sugar, Jackson and Martini to name just a few, who have all inherited his generous and willing temperament and have given their owners an enormous amount of success and pleasure. The vast majority of comments on our comments page relate to ponies sired by Branston. The photos below are just a small selection of the wonderful ponies he produced for us.
He is buried here on the stud so that he can look out over the Forest he loved while watching the exploits of his children and grandchildren.