Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog

Riders Slow Off The Mark

Hi Everyone,

K Club Lady and Complete are leaving Holland tonight to make their way to Valencia in Spain which starts on Friday.

This will be the opening leg of the Global Champions Tour and despite only having the mare to ride for the last four weeks I'm confident of a solid performance in next Saturdays €300k Grand Prix. All the classes at these shows carry ranking points so hopefully Complete can help me win some of those also.

I want to touch briefly on the recent events at the world cup final and express my views on the direction the sport is going.

Firstly I was not in Geneva and therefore I am only able to write about the broader picture and not the specifics of the disqualification of McLain Ward's mare Sapphire.

Mc Lain was leading the overall standings after the second leg but his mount was subsequently eliminated from the event following clinical examination by the FEI vets who deemed her unfit to compete further as they believed she showed signs of hypersensitivity to a part of her left front leg. In any case, this goes down badly for everyone and in an already difficult financial climate, new sponsors will not be encouraged by this type of publicity.

As riders we must put the welfare of the horses above all else and I welcome the new medication rules of April 5th 2010, which will hopefully give more clarity to the vets and us and in turn have less positive cases.

However the situation that took place in Geneva threw up many questions. A horse was eliminated despite passing the veterinary inspection and despite having no heat abnormalities on the thermograph scan. This was done on the opinion of experienced vets' clinical findings, i.e., the horse lifted its leg when touched.

Again stressing that the welfare of the horse is paramount I believe a dangerous precedent for our sport which could have grave repercussions for the future was set following the decision taken by the FEI to eliminate Sapphire.

In January 2008 the FEI  introduced the rule that if a horse was deemed to be hypersensitive it would be eliminated without any appeal and deemed unfit to compete.  However without the need on themselves to have any proof or substantial evidence, rather the opinion of certain individuals, it leaves it vague and in my opinion a grey area with room for error.

It's typical of "us" (riders) though, to be arguing about a rule two years after it came into being. The riders should have seen this coming and in the end of the day, if united, could have a huge voice in conjunction with the FEI on the direction of the sport. But no. We usually are too self absorbed worrying about the next show, horse, class or  whatever and instead of looking down the tracks we'd rather wait for the inevitable and then bitch like cackling hens.

I'm sure there will be more to come with this case and as it's the first time this rule will be tested at this level and very much in the public eye, the outcome will have a lasting impact on the future of show jumping.

Check back Sunday night for a report on Valencia.

Best Wishes,

Cookies help us to deliver the best service. By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. View Cookie Preferences Accept