Today, we are chatting with Nicola Dyson who, spotting a need in the market, set up a delivery service for semen for breeders across the UK. Nicola is telling us a bit about her background and motivation to set up this small but successful business from scratch, showing that with every new business there comes a special story and journey.
“I have been involved with horses for 24 years. I knew I wanted to have a career with horses within the first few weeks of being around them and pestered everyone I came into contact with who owned a horse until I bought one of my own at 16!”
“Since then I have worked within all different parts of the equine industry, learning and picking up things along the way from many accomplished wonderful horse people. I did the usual BHS stages but never wanted to ride, I was in all honesty scared of falling off, I just couldn’t get it out of my head that I could fall off and break a bone or worse! Bit morbid I know!”
“Then 9 years ago I had started working with youngsters and mares and foals and absolutely loved it!”
It was during this time, that Nicola experienced a life changing event:
“My younger brother was involved in a horrific hit and run accident on the way to my house. The night it happened I was trying to call him to tell him to come to my house as it was late at night. When i finally got an answer on his phone it wasn’t my brother who answered but a girl who informed me she had found him in the middle of the road, unconscious and bleeding from a deep head wound. Little did I know he was lying unconscious on a slip road half a mile down the road from my house after being struck head on by a car whilst crossing the road. He was there for almost 10 minutes on his own. I drove down to where he was and I will never ever forget that sight. My little ( well 6ft 1 little) brother fighting for his life on the road.
“The next few months were awful, he was put on life support, he had a tracheostomy fitted, he caught pneumonia, he was in an induced coma for over 6 weeks. When he finally woke the doctors said he probably would never breathe unaided, eating would be only via peg feed through his stomach and he would never speak or walk again. When he finally DID breath unaided he was shipped off to a care home where I was told by the manager that he would never leave that place. He had now got spasticity in his arms, hands and legs due to his brain injury, he weighed 8 stone at 6ft 1! He just wasn’t ‘with us’.
“Gradually over the next couple of months he started to slightly respond to things, he was then moved to a brain injury unit and over the next 3 years he gradually improved, he started to nod and shake his head to communicate, then he started to write! Then used type and talk machine! Then one day……he started to talk! This lad had the strength of nothing I’d ever seen, even with a brain injury.
It was during this time of slow recovery and new hope for her brother that Nicola embarked on her own pony breeding operation.
“I bought my first mare Sox AP as my foundation mare, she was to be the start of Mordis Dressage ponies. It gave me a focus in this awful time, something to aim for, something to stop the awful questions going around in my head: “What if I hadn’t asked him to come to my house to look after my son while I worked?” and to stop me blaming myself for something i now know I could never have prevented. I started to think after all of this if my brother could perform the miracles he had then why couldn’t I have a go at something I genuinely loved and hopefully do well at! I wanted to make him proud of his big sister.
“My brother is now able to walk short distances with a walking frame, has the same cheeky attitude he had before, has his own beautiful bungalow and carers 24/7. He can eat normally aswell! Don’t get me wrong it’s taken a few years and the man who left him for dead never served any longer than 9 weeks in prison for it, but my brother Is still here and as long as he’s a trier then so am I.
Nicola feels that the grit and determination she has seen in her brother are exactly the sort of attributes required in breeding, which is never a straight and easy road. One of the problems she encountered gave her an idea for a new business:
“Over the past couple of years I have seen many breeders struggle to get the semen they ordered to arrive in time for their mares. I have experienced this myself a few times. Especially weekends can be tricky, or bank holidays, or semen gets got lost in the system only to arrive a week later, stuck at the airport or at a depot. Or sometimes mares just catch us out and suddenly produced a huge follicle, requiring semen immediately!
“Last year I thought I’d offer a service for all breeders for a same day service for semen to be delivered to their mare. It has been a great success and I now do deliveries for many studs including Twemlows, Westpoint, Caunton Manor, Stallion AI and even just the hobby breeders. This season I have taken on drivers all around the UK so as to try and keep delivery times and costs down as much as I can for breeders. I have even been helping the semen make it’s way from Europe to the UK breeder by delivering for Elite Stallions from a depot near my base close to Cheshire.
“I also am able to transport frozen semen in a shipper to destinations that have facilities to store frozen semen.
I’ve had some fantastic feedback and I really hope I can keep providing a great UK wide service for all UK breeders on a seasonal basis!”
We wish Nicola every success with her business, which is certainly providing a valuable service to breeders, and above all we wish her brother all the best for the future!