Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog

Safety is a must but let's not lose the plot!

Hey everyone,

Great day today at Coilog for the final leg of the Showjumpers Club Spring Tour. A big turnout was always expected with over 70 horses in the class. My horses have had a few weeks off since Florida and it was the perfect warm-up class before Louth County next week. Saphir and Cooper were both double clear in the feature class, placing 2nd and 5th respectively. The show ran like clockwork. Both classes in the main ring were pre-entry and ran smoothly, and (for a pleasant change) the main class started exactly on time - full marks to all involved! 

One thing that struck me though is a new policy - I presume within Showjumping Ireland - to have barriers in the warm-up ring where people should stand when warming a rider up for the competition. I saw these brought in last year at certain shows, following some very unfortunate accidents that occurred. Safety is of utmost importance so anything that can be done to make the shows and the warm-up areas safer for all really is a must. But I think it needs to be revisited and looked at in a practical way, as today it seemed to me to be overboard, bordering on counter-productive. There was a chicane-like tunnel of mesh fencing between the main ring and the practice ring, presumably to make the place safer, but, in fact, it was possibly more dangerous than if it was not there at all. The barriers in the practice just don’t work. Stewards are giving out to trainers for stepping outside them which of course you can’t avoid doing in order to change the fence - unless you have Inspector Gadget arms! The World cup finals were held this weekend in Lyon and there were no barriers in the warm-up nor were there at one of the smallest arenas in London, Olympia. A possible solution is to have an extra person monitoring the safety of the ground in front and after the practice fence, and also observing everyone warming up and generally keeping an eye that all is in order. This should not be the steward - that is an entirely different role.

Full marks to Ger O'Neill from Castlefield Stables for supporting the new initiative in the league to reward the highest-placed young horses. A great initiative and a super stepping stone for the young horses to go on to greater heights.

Chat soon,

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