IF ever there was a name that rang in the ears of not just Clydesdale enthusiasts but show goers across the country during 2017 it surely has to be Ord Tinkerbell, a young filly that took home a haul of rosettes and trophies throughout the year. 

That’s no mean feat, considering her owners and breeders, Eric and Miranda Johnstone, run a small stud that numbers just three females near Muir of Ord, and often make mammoth journeys just to compete. 
Eric, a mobile plant fitter to trade, was heavily influenced by his grandfather who was part of the Clark Bros then the Newmore stud. 

But it wasn’t until just before their daughter Naomi was born, nigh on 30 years ago, that he bought a horse under his own steam and the Ord stud was born, as well as son Arran a few years later. 

“In a good Clydesdale we’re looking for all the usual breed characteristics with a slightly roman nose, and I like a nice hind leg with a tall hock and long silky hair,” said Eric, who has judged at a number of shows over the years. They need to have broad, clean and flat bone and they’ve got to carry themselves well with good action – you really want to hear them coming.”

The Scottish Farmer:

        Ord Destiny (left) and Ord Envy, in their winter woolies

With that in mind, the Johnstones’ first purchase was Barnyards Mabel, a yearling filly that won at a handful of shows during her first season, including the duos’ local, the Black Isle Show. 

“When we first started showing, Eric said if we ever get champion at the Black Isle he’d be happy but we did that in our first year and couldn’t believe it” added Miranda who, before marrying Eric 34 years ago, had little to do with horses but now adds her own touches to their entries on show day – not that either of them will tell you any of their tricks of the trade. 

Having tried, unsuccessfully, to breed from Mabel, they later invested in Craighead Apple Blossom, an in-foal mare which produced a colt foal and was a consistent breeder, never missing a year. She showed well too, but it was her daughter, Ord Flower Girl, that came up with the goods and won Black Isle Show in the year 2000. But with, at one point, nine horses plus a flock of Suffolk sheep on the go, the numbers were reduced to a more manageable figure and just as well considering both Eric and Miranda work full-time, with the majority of their annual holiday allowance already booked up for shows. 

Now, the three members of the Ord stud descend from a mare named Millhouse April, which also boasts wins at local shows and produced Ord Caledonia, a Greendykes Footprint son that did well at the Stallion Show in 2007 before standing at stud in Scotland, Ireland and even France. 
April also produced Ord Touch of Class which proved to be an exceptional breeder, producing the Doura Scottie Boy-sired Ord Envy whose own glittering show career has been somewhat surpassed by her daughter, Tinkerbell. 

The Scottish Farmer:

        Ord Envy on winning form at Sutherland Show in 2014

Taking nothing away from the now seven-year-old Envy, she really encouraged the Johnstones’ passion and ambition to hit the headlines when she was champion of champions at Grantown Show back in 2014, as well as champion of champions at the City of Aberdeen Show at Duthie Park on two occasions. 

Described by Eric as ‘a big upstanding mare with broad flat bone, nice silky hair and the action to match’, Envy is also the dam of the third resident Ord female and full sister to Tinkerbell, Destiny, which only made a brief but successful trot around the show ring to stand champion at Keith Show as a yearling. 

“You know when they’re born if they’ll be good or not as you get a good idea when you first see them, and with Tinkerbell we knew we were on to a winner,” said Eric of the now two-year-old Eskechraggan Ernest daughter. “She’s the same sort of stamp as Envy, with good clean bone and silky hair. She’s a big, deep-bodied filly too, and has really matured this year – if only they could all be like them.”

Having always been pipped to the post during her first season of winter foal shows, which involved many six-hour round trips for the Johnstones, Tinkerbell rose to the occasion at the National Stallion Show last February when she secured the overall championship. Her winning ways continued and she went on to stand champion at Perth, Nairn, Black Isle, Keith, Grantown, Dornoch and Sutherland shows, as well as champion of champions at three of those.

The Scottish Farmer:

         One filly, one year: Tinkerbell's haul during 2017

“Without a doubt the Stallion Show was our best win of last year as it’s one of the premier shows and everyone wants to win at it. Plus, the Cawdor Cup is a big draw and for us to win the overall championship with a yearling filly was really something when the males normally go on to win,” recalled Eric of the moment they secured the Prince of Wales Trophy. 

As for this year, with no foals due, the Johnstones will be using one of their well-earned ‘days off’ to head to more shows and the National Stallion Show is next on the list to see if Tinkerbell can retain her crown.