Born in 1995 and within a month I was whisked off to my first hunter trial! Not that I remember but it seems that horses were always going to be part of my life. Mum (Joan) and Dad (Martin) have hunted for as long as I can remember and I went to my first hunt aged 4 although it nearly killed dad as he was on lead-rein duty! As well as hunting I joined the Kildare Pony Club and have been a member ever since. I loved the Pony Club and did everything from mounted games to Minimus; Tetratholon to Robbie Bailey and Camp. I still love to help out at Camp and Rallies and love the enthusiasm of the little ones!
When I was 12 we bought a super pony called Rocky and the plan was to hit the Eventing Ireland circuit ASAP. We enlisted the help of Ken Mahon and thank goodness he came on board as without him I don’t know where we would all be. I had great times with Rocky until it all came crashing down at a hunter trial in Carlow in early 2008. Rocky and I suffered a rotational fall and sadly Rocky had to be put down. It was a very difficult time for all of us and it took all our energy to get back on our feet. Mum found another pony (Alex) to help get my confidence back and he was great, except for dressage! But he did his job in that he gave me back my confidence and got me back out riding happily.
After Alex, I spent a few years bringing on younger horses through the Eventing Ireland ranks. I learnt a lot from this and it really improved my riding. In 2012 a friend of ours, Barbara Grehen, asked me to ride her very experienced Whitefort Phantom (Chucky). I was delighted and had a super season campaigning Chucky and my own horse Classic Piper. We did lots of internationals and was thrilled to be selected as first reserve for the Irish Junior Eventing Team. I also had a great season with Piper who took me around our first CCI** at Blair Castle to finish 5th.
After such a successful year with Chucky and Piper, Mum, Dad, Ken and I sat down to make a plan. Mum is the patient one whilst dad wants everything to happen immediately. This resulted in Miracle (Mac) coming into the yard in March and that’s when the work load went up another notch. We decided that a firm plan had to be followed and this meant more lessons and schooling and a tough fitness and diet regime all during my Leaving Cert year!
Within a month of getting Mac we went to our first international, a CICJ* in Ballindenisk. Here we finished 3rd. The two of us gelled really quickly and went on to Tattersalls International in May to finish 2nd. Then Mac got a 3 week break mid-season as I had to do my Leaving Cert! In July we went to Barbury ON where we finished 3rd and went to on Brightling Park CIC** to finish 10th. Camphire CICYR** was next on the list and here we finished 5th. Thankfully we got on the Junior Eventing Team and it was off to Haras Du Jardy for the Europeans. We won Team Gold and Mac and I got an Individual Silver Medal. All the hard work had paid off!
It’s not however as if I’m the only one in the family with interest in horses. I’m one of five children in my house and my eldest brother James is into kite surfing and my youngest brother Alexander is a mad rugby head. Marcus and Anna are my greatest helpers when we aren’t arguing! We have gone on some amazing holidays over the years such as horseback safari in the Okavango Delta and horse trekking in Torres Del Paine, Chile. It’s fantastic when the whole family can go on riding holidays together. Dad is a bit of a dare devil so they are usually a bit mad!
Coming over the line in Jardy will be hard to beat, although galloping with Giraffe in Botswana comes pretty close!
2014 was another successful year. However, it didn’t come without its ups and downs! A bit of a rocky start was had with Mac at Ballindenisk. Even though he may be a superstar in our eyes, he still likes to show us that at the end of the day he’s not a robot and can be unpredictable!
After Ballindenisk, of course, the college exams had to be completed so the horses took a back seat while I did those. Mid May I was really able to focus 100% as college was finished for the summer and everything got a lot busier!
At the start of June, myself and Ken took ourselves off to England with Mac, Piper and Harry (Mount Panther) who was a 6 year old. He actually belongs to my brother Marcus but because he was doing his Junior Cert exams I got the ride to give him some experience. We travelled to 3 events and I felt that all 3 horses hugely benefited from the experience as we all got put out of our comfort zones. We got home just in time for Camphire Interntational, which was the final trial for the Young Rider Team that travelled to Vale Sabroso, Portugal.
Thankfully, all went to plan and Mac and I were selected to travel as part of the squad to Portugal. An emotional week was had and the Team pulled off winning Team Gold while Mac and I won an Individual Bronze. Onwards and Upwards for next year now, as dad always says – “It’s tough getting to the top but when you get there its tougher staying at the top!”
What a year 2016 was, culminating in the Young Rider Championship in September with Loughnatousa Joey and the 6 year old Championship in Lion D’Angers with DSL The Professor (Daryl). I was really proud of both horses and thankfully both trips went well.
As always we had our fair share of ups and downs throughout the season! Joey sustained a few minor injuries at inappropriate times and Ken, myself and our vet JP really had to pull together to keep everything on track. Thank God horses can swim! We only managed to compete Joey once in England and that was in Barbury in the CIC**. It was a successful trip and was a great prep run for the Europeans. Thankfully we made it to the Europeans in Italy and it was an amazing experience even though it was incredibly hot! We finished 10th out of a very strong field and Joey was brilliant from start to finish. I really enjoyed my year competing him and can’t wait to get going with him in 2017.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Daryl either but he proved himself a real champion throughout the season and I think we have a future star on our hands. He kept his cool no matter what we threw at him finishing 5th in the six year class in Camphire and second in the same class in Millstreet resulting in our being selected to compete in the Championship Lion D’Angers. I was delighted. Daryl is now getting ready to go up to 2* and hopefully we will get back to Lion to compete in the seven year old class this year.
Miracle is now ready to make a comeback and I am very excited about that. I have really missed him and am thrilled to see his happy face in the yard again. He will be out eventing soon.
During the winter months I was in Florida with David and Karen O’Connor .It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. I learnt so much and the whole experience will stand to me in the future. I will always be grateful to David and Karen for being so kind.
Now I am based in Leicester with JP Shefield. I hope to be here for the season and so far so good .Fingers crossed for a good season.