In 2026, the Canadian Sport Horse Association will be celebrating 100 years since the founding of its parent organization, the Canadian Hunter and Light Horse Improvement Society. That name was later changed to the Canadian Hunter Improvement Society and then finally in the mid 1980’s to the the Canadian Sport Horse Association.

The CSHA would like to recognize and showcase a Canadian breeder who has made an outstanding contribution to the industry by producing quality young horses for the performance market. From the time Jane Lee (nee Robson) of Madingley Farm in Moffat, Ontario, began her boutique breeding operation, she held firm to her commitment to breed solid, sensible, traditionally correct horses who would go on to have successful careers. Jane’s philosophy is predicated on the science that dictates that structure, form and movement affect function.

It is clear that Jane’s lifelong passion began from the moment she was old enough to recognize the magic of being near a horse. Growing up in Oshawa, Ontario, Jane started riding lessons at age seven and by the time she was 10, her family had moved to Quebec where the St. Adele Riding Academy became her second home. There she groomed horses, swept floors, and cleaned stalls after school and on weekends. After cleaning enough stalls, she was granted the coveted job of leading trail rides on weekends.

A bay mare in the dressage ring and hunter ring.

The versatile Somerset (Sandsturm x Vida Blue), a.k.a. Abbey, was equally talented in the hunter and dressage rings and became Jane’s second-generation foundation mare. (top photo Peachey Pictures)

In 1958, the family of five moved to Whitby, ON and it was there that in grade 7 at the age of 12, Jane joined the Timbertop Pony Club located on Leslie Street. The Pony Club became an important foray into further horsemanship as she started working her way through the various levels toward the coveted “A” rating. That summer, Jane met Major, a 15.2 Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred lead pony from Greenwood Raceway who needed a home for the off-season. He was a perfect companion despite escaping through a wire fence, crossing a creek, and eating the neighbour’s flowers!

Major was eventually returned to the track but on a monumental day in 1962, Jane purchased her first horse, Ribbon, a 14.1-hand buckskin mare from Picov’s in Pickering. Ribbon earned her name because of the very dark dorsal stripe down her back. It was on Ribbon that she took lessons and continued to work her way up through Pony Club levels. While Ribbon was a good fit, Jane’s next pony was an even better one.

The new gelding, Aram, a 14.2-hand Arabian pony, was bought as a two-year-old. They grew up together and Aram followed Jane to Western University in London. Jane and Aram did everything the show ring had to offer, from the Arab costume classes and English pleasure to the fall fair circuit. While continuing to show Aram, Jane successfully completed her “A” pony club accreditation.

It was around this time that Jane began to have an eye for a good line horse and just before completing university she purchased a three-year-old which she kept for a year and a half before selling it along with Aram.

A chestnut mare.

Jane’s first foal from the mating of Abbey and Sopran was the lovely chestnut filly Sydney, pictured as a yearling. (courtesy Jane Lee)

In 1968, Jane graduated from Western with a degree in zoology and at 22 years of age she left Canada for England to take a job at the Veterinary School of Cambridge. The school was in the small village of Madingley and Jane fell in love with the beauty of the park and surrounding farmland. Aside from joining the University Riding Club, she also became a working student for the legendary event rider Mike Tucker. During that period of time, she toured up and down Britain and the Netherlands with the Tucker team, gaining international experience and riding three or four horses a day.

Seeking a degree of solitude after non-stop travel, Jane returned to Canada and in 1970 took a job at the Ontario Veterinary College as a research assistant in biomedical sciences. She purchased a cute little Quarter Horse named Mac and kept him at a farm in Arkell, ON. The farm was owned by Barry Lee and it wasn’t too long before Jane and Barry married and settled into life on the farm. Jane and Barry decided to name the farm Madingley after the quaint village and picturesque countryside in England.

It was just after Jane’s marriage to Barry that she began her affiliation with the Canadian Hunter Society. Vida Blue was Jane’s first broodmare. Known around the barn as Mink, Jane bred the mare to Moonlighting, a Thoroughbred stallion owned by Col. Ken Campbell. Mink went on to produce six fillies, all from Thoroughbred stallions. The seventh and final filly was by the Hanoverian stallion Sandsturm, owned by Fritz Floto. This lovely bay filly was named Somerset (Abbey) and after a successful career in the dressage ring, she had her first breeding to the Trakehner stallion Rombus. That union produced Sheffield who finished at 17.3 hands and went on to compete successfully in the dressage ring. He later became the Toronto & North York Hunt huntsman’s mount.

The second breeding for Abbey was once again to Rombus and the 16.3-hand grey gelding Saxony was the result. He went on to compete through medium level dressage.

A woman with a horse.

Jane with Maggie, a horse of a different breed! (photo courtesy Jane Lee)

With her scientific acumen, Jane next turned her breeding attentions to the Hanoverian stallion Sopran. She was attracted to his substance, correct conformation, and lovely temperament. Jane bred Abbey three times to Sopran and each time produced the quality and substance she looked for. The first foal born from this breeding was a 16.1-hand chestnut mare named Sydney, the second was Summer Dreams (Gracie) a 16.1-hand bay mare and the third was Balmoral (Laurel).

At the time, Jane had a boarder in her stable who was looking for a suitable stallion to breed to her Thoroughbred mare Aretha. She recommended Sopran and this pairing produced the famous bay colt Trilogy. From a yearling, Trilogy was shown on the line and was either Champion or Reserve Champion at every CSHA breeder show he attended. In 2001, Trilogy went on to win the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Cup at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. That same year he finished second to Popeye K in the Governor General’s Cup class. Trilogy was CSHA Champion that year and went on to a stellar career as a hunter before being sold to a family in Florida.

Following Trilogy’s success, Jane bred Aretha to Sopran on one more occasion. Aretha produced a stunning bay colt named Simon. This youngster was sold to the U.S. just prior to competing at the RAWF Cup Classes. A year later came a lovely liver chestnut filly named Meridian (Posh) who went on to have a long dressage career in Ontario.

Jane’s three mares produced over 20 youngsters, all who began life on the rolling green hills of Madingley Farm. All of Abbey’s foals were registered with the CSHA and many were shown to great success on the line before going on to successful careers from hunters to dressage to the jumper ring. With a passion for the horse, a large dose of practical science, and a commitment to quality, she reached and even surpassed her breeding goals.

When asked about assessing a good horse in the ring today, Jane says, “What is the first horse to catch your eye? That horse is the one that catches your eye for a reason.”