A strong and successful competitive riding background of dressage and eventing, as well as showing and judging hacks, galloways and riding ponies, was inevitably always going to lead Deborah and Bruce Williams (pictured below) into the challenge of breeding quality sporthorses,- namely warmbloods. Initially the breeding interest was confined to one well-bred Thoroughbred mare who consistently produced good quality warmblood foals every second year. The foals were then sold with the exception of the lovely Donnerheist filly, Chandon who was retained as a foundation broodmare. From there the stud has grown and now takes pride in breeding foals that are equal to the best in the world.
Bruce and Debbie travel to Europe regularly in order to take in overseas trends and personally inspect the up and coming sires which will best suit their mares. Debbie says, "We want to breed horses that we would be happy to keep and proud to ride!"
Deborah and Bruce Williams
Several trips to Germany and Holland confirmed that the direction required to produce horses competitive on the international circuit was to develop a small band of elite warmblood broodmares with a combination of performance records and great depth of breeding which, when combined with the best available frozen semen sires available today, could then produce world class fillies for the stud to retain for breeding as well as much sought after, super riding horses available for sale to discerning purchasers.
Santa Fe and her 2011 filly foal by Hilkens Nougat Cream
With this aim firmly in place, top proven performance producing mares were then sought, and possibly the most decorated Australian warmblood broodmare of her time, Faleten (pictured below with HG Fallon at foot) was purchased by the stud, carrying a Don Ramiro foal, which subsequently is proving to be the stud's most valuable broodmare "Hollingrove Fallon" whose three frozen semen foals to date- by Sandro Hit, Brentano 11 and Longchamp are indeed world class. Faleten made an enormous contribution to the early days of Australian performance breeding as she was a producer of at least 5 stallion sons, some exported, and is to be found in the pedigrees of many of today's top dressage horses, particularly through her son Stirling Liberty. Many of the NSW Equestrian Centre's rising stars have been bred from her many daughters and grand-daughters. Hollingrove has also retained a Faleten daughter by the sensational Dutch frozen sire Flemmingh and her frozen semen progeny by Falsterbo and Sunny Boy should be much sought-after.
Reggae and Surreal at dusk
Faleten and Hollingrove Fallon
Initially Hollingrove was developed at Longwarry North primarily as a riding property but as the breeding interest expanded, the time came to move to a larger farm which would lend itself to being set-up as a purpose designed horse stud, so, when the beautiful and historic "Figuna Estate" in Warragul came on the market, the decision to re-establish was easy. The park-like property features a 100 year old homestead in a magnificent garden setting, which includes a 100 year old holly hedge and an olde-world rose garden.
However, it was actually the large, softly undulating paddocks, beautifully sheltered by well established treelines and the rich chocolate soil that we fell in love with as we visualized mares and foals contentedly grazing on the lush pastures, and youngsters developing, running freely and playing in the large paddocks
Figuna Estate - Warragul, Victoria.
Two years down the track, and with most of the major works of stables, riding arena and fencing completed and functional, it was time to develop the horse vision for the stud's future by importing an impeccably bred female to add to the broodmare band. After inspecting mares and fillies at some of the most famous breeding barns in Germany, we were fortunate to be able to purchase a superb black filly by Sandro Hit, whose dam is the State Premium Donnerhall mare Dixie who is closely related to the sensational stallion "His Highness" on both her dam and sire's pedigree. Santa Fe was bred in Germany by the same breeder as "His Highness" and she stands to strengthen the gene pool of our brood mares and will be an invaluable breeding prospect. It is an added bonus is that she is an absolute delight to handle and sensible in every way!
Bruce and Debbie's philosophy regarding breeding horses (and Angus cattle) is simple:- to breed sound, healthy and well grown stock. A healthy environment is our key ingredient the stud is set up with improved pastures natural shelter and safe fencing with lots of room to exercise. We undertake regular drenching, handling from birth and farrier visits. All horses are fed daily with a balanced mineral and vitamin ration according to their individual requirements to ensure optimum development, fertility and soundness.
Bruce and Debbie make a keen study of the World's top performance pedigrees and apply much proven science to their stud's operation. They are kept up to date with the latest European trends through their long standing and valued connections. Having made a number of trips to Europe we have developed friendships with many German breeders who have similar goals and visions. The availability of frozen semen has enabled all Australian breeders access to the world's top stallions.
“The challenge now is to make best use of this knowledge and experience by being extremely selective when choosing the mares to breed to these top stallions. We must strive to produce the best possible horses for our talented young Australian riders to enable them to be competitive at international level in a sport with ever rising standards.