For Hayley Beresford, 2020 started out as a cracking year. Before Covid-19 put a halt to competitions, she and partner Jule had enjoyed success at numerous competitions with multiple horses. “I had a fantastic run,” recalls Hayley. “Friedolin, Rebana, Fayani, Fraser Island and Sambucca all had wins. And then later in the (northern) summer, Sambucca kept the candle burning with a couple of personal records.
“However, Covid makes for strange times, and I do look at the world a little differently. We focused a lot more on our business goals in 2020 and sold quite a few horses.” Covid-19 may have shifted her focus, but Hayley has faced far greater challenges in the past, so the ‘different’ year that was 2020 was little more than a twist in the road.
Hayley and Jule run their riding, training and coaching business out of Eiserner Hof, a stunning six-hectare property at Bissingen an der Teck, just over half an hour southeast of Stuttgart. Hayley’s road to Eiserner Hof has been many years in the making. She first travelled to Europe in 2005 to work for Isabell Werth, after Isabell offered her a job some years earlier when she saw her riding as a 21-year-old student in Australia. At the time, Hayley turned the offer down and wasn’t sure that horses would be her career; however, five years later at the age of 26, the reality set in that horses were her passion, and off to Europe she went.
Hayley stayed with Isabell until 2010, during which time she rode Brazilian-bred Lusitano stallion Relampago de Retino for Australia at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. After a stint with Otto Hofer in Switzerland, Hayley ended up renting stables at Eiserner Hof in 2014.
“Jule had already been managing the stable and working for the owners for some time,” explains Hayley. She and Jule didn’t intend to merge their businesses, but in the end it was a natural progression. “I helped Jule with her horses, and in that first year she not only won her first S class (similar to Small Tour in Australia) on Freckle (2005 gelding, Future x Gribaldi), but also rode her first Grand Prix on a horse named Clifford (2002 gelding, Caccomo x Ricadero),” says Hayley. Her connection with Jule and Clifford predates Eiserner Hof, as Hayley helped the pair back when she worked for Isabell Werth; Jule was located 15 minutes down the road at the time.
Hayley says the help went both ways, as Jule assisted her with many of her horses at Eiserner Hof, which was a welcome change for Hayley who had been surrounded only by students for a few years.
In 2018, the option to purchase Eiserner Hof arose; scared but at the same time excited, Hayley and Jule jumped at the chance. Eiserner Hof is a well-equipped equestrian facility, with a 20x40m indoor riding hall, a 20x60m outdoor arena, a gallop track with an undulating surface, stables with 26 boxes, a wash bay and solarium, five-horse walker, yards with a suitable surface for the winter months, and turnout fields. Besides Hayley and Jule’s main residence, there are two apartments for live-in staff.