12 Jan 2022
Norman Birkenhead -Idyllic Stud
The Society is sad to report the passing of Norman Birkenhead at almost eighty years of age.
Norman was originally from the Cheltenham area and rode from his early days as a boy, sparking a lifelong passion for equines. Originally working with National Hunt horses, he later moved to Newmarket setting up his own racehorse livery yard.
It was here that he met his partner to be Jenny Kilbey who stabled some of the Idyllic stud’s ponies at Norman’s yard. Alongside such ponies as the spectacular mover Taliaris Granite, which Jenny showed with much success, Norman would prepare thoroughbred yearlings for the sales – an often-difficult task with many pressures to produce the stock to their best potential against tight deadlines.
However, it was a little grey Welsh mountain pony colt which saw Norman step into the light of the Welsh pony world, and it is probably this image by which he will be best remembered. If ever there was an aptly named pony Pendock Legend created a great impact and Norman and he had many major successes in the ring. With Jenny’s eye and production skills and Norman’s showmanship in his distinctive Cowboy hat, it was no wonder that the Idyllic ponies became a force to be reckoned with in the show ring; a tradition continued today at the very highest level by the next two generations of Kilbeys.
Legend’s daughter, the demure Idyllic Pavlova was Norman’s favourite, and her extravagant movement saw the two take the Female and Reserve Overall Championship at the Royal Welsh show in 1990 under Miss Laura Hutchins. Quite a feat, as so few young fillies have taken the Female Championship in the show’s history.
The Society extends its sympathy to Jenny, Mark, their family and friends.
Photograph: Pendock Legend ‘struts his stuff’ at the Royal Welsh in the capable hands of Norman.