ARDEN LODGE is a commercial standardbred breeding farm and training establishment located on the boundary of the Tapanui township at the base of the Blue Mountains in West Otago, New Zealand.
Arden Lodge is a family business - owned and operated by John and Judy Stiven. John’s late parents, Doug and Noreen Stiven, were milk vendors when they bought their first mare, Stormy Star, who was in foal to Prince Charming, in 1969. They sold her filly, Miss Charming, for $800 at the National Sales in Christchurch and so began their longtime involvement with breeding and selling yearlings.
In 1974, the stud name ‘Arden’ was registered with the NZ Trotting Conference and for some years now all foals registered have Arden in their name.
Doug trained a small team of horses and from an early age, son John was there helping him and learning. When John left school he completed a carpentry apprenticeship but continued to be involved with the horses in his spare time. John held a trials’ licence and went on to complete Southland Harness Cadet Scheme Standardbred Stable Practice and Standardbred Breeding certificates.
Doug was an involved member of the industry—actively trying to improve things for both breeders and trainers. He was a member of the Southland Standardbred Breeders Association and was on the inaugural Sires Stakes Board. He was also involved in the early stages of the Southern Bred Southern Reared group that was formed by breeders who wanted to work together to market yearlings for the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch.
John has also been very actively involved in this group which has gone from strength to strength, and he has recently been made one of its two life members. He is also a member of the Southland Standardbred Breeders Association.
When Doug died in 2001 Noreen continued with both the milk run and breeding—with John carrying out the day to day management of the stock before and after his work in the timber business, and at the yearling sales. They retained some nice fillies who were successful on the track and are now in the broodmare band.
In 2012 Noreen passed away and John was spending more time with the horses than the timber. He and his wife Judy decided to concentrate on breeding and develop their broodmare band. The addition of champion race winning mare Venus Serena (Mach Three-Inspiring Dash) was an important step towards improving their stock. They also bought Tricky Woman (In the Pocket-Super Smooth) and a small number of mares from Tuapeka Lodge in Lawrence.
The Stivens send their mares to Macca Lodge for foaling down, where they have access to a wide range of fresh and frozen semen. John researches pedigrees and keeps up to date with what is happening in the US—working out which stallion is the best fit for each of the Arden mares.
Both generations of Stivens have travelled widely, visiting horse studs around the world and enjoying the company of friends they have made with the wonderful people in the harness racing industry.
The Stivens follow the careers of their breed and are proud to see them doing well for their new connections. They are grateful that many of their breed have enjoyed life after racing with caring owners. Arden Rooney is now an ambassador for Harness Racing with the Hero programme in Australia and he even has his own Facebook page.
While the main focus at Arden Lodge is breeding John holds a trainer’s licence and works a small team of horses if it suits them better than being sent to other trainers.
Doug and Noreen’s racing colours were purple and mauve but John and Judy now have a set of colours that retain the purple, along with a logo with a mare and foal. They race their own horses in the new colours and also those of the few horses they have in syndicates or leased for racing.
Arden Lodge is proud to have been a long time sponsor of the Robin Dundee Crown at Ascot Park and of other races and drivers over the years.
Arden Lodge is proud of its history and is keen to continue to improve the quality of the Arden breed in the future.