Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist


Horseware meets: Cian O'Connor

A look inside Olympic bronze medallist and Horseware sponsored rider Cian O'Connor's Co. Meath stables. Cian reflects on the successes of the past year and gives his top five tips on how to be a great show-jumper.

Cian thrilled with his horses at Aachen

Aachen in Germany is notorious for having the biggest and widest fences of any show in the world. All of Cian's team performed outstandingly well which is evident in all the great results. Cian was clear in all the main classes from Wednesday till Saturday.

On Wednesday he jumped Cooper in the Prize of Europe and gave a display of jumping, picking up a single time fault. On Thursday Cian lined out in the feature event to win on the ever consistent Unique to score the first Irish win of the show. Cooper again jumped out of his skin in Friday’s 1.60m jump off class and with his lack of experience at this level he was just outside the time by .43 seconds. Unique again was double clear in Saturday's 1.55m jump off class placing fifth, as did Carpe Diem and Acorada in the accumulator and speed, respectively.

Cian said after the show, “Aachen show is undoubtedly one of the greats. The jumping here all week has been outstanding. I'm thrilled with all my horses especially Unique for his great consistency and will to win and I was delighted that his owners Beverley and Gary Widdowson were there this week to see him in action.”

“Of course the legendary pair of Nick Skelton and Big Star whom the Widdowsons also own was the only treble clear in the Grand Prix which was a tremendous achievement and congrats to all involved and personally I was thrilled for Nick”.

Cian becomes Brand Ambassador for Equest

Zoetis are pleased to announce that Olympic Bronze medallist Cian O'Connor has now become a brand ambassador for their range of wormers, Equest and Equest Pramox. Zoetis, formerly the animal health business of Pfizer, is a global animal health company with over 60 years experience in the animal health industry.

Speaking after the announcement, Cian O’ Connor said: "I'm excited at being chosen by Zoetis as their brand ambassador and I'm looking forward to working with them and their veterinary team. They share my enthusiasm and understanding for peak equine conditioning and health and this new partnership will ensure that all my horses at Karlswood will receive the best worming advice and regimes available." 

Unique wins a new car for Cian's groom!

  • Unique wins the Grand Prix in SommerstorfPic: Karl-Heinz Frieler
  • Cian after his victory in the Grand PrixPic: Peggy Schröder

After winning the Grand Prix on Sunday in Sommerstorf, Germany, Cian picked up the prize of a Golf GTI, which he subsequently donated to his groom, Clement Waras, known affectionately as "Frenchy".

Cian won on the ultra-reliable gelding, Unique, owned by Beverley Widdowson. The 12 year old was one of ten to make it through to the second round, winning with 2 seconds to spare ahead of Germany's Carsten-Otto Nagel, riding Holiday by Solitour.

Having delivered great performances in the UAE, Austria and recently Nörten-Hardenberg, Cian said that "Unique has been a consistent performer since joining my stables at the beginning of the year... We came here to win the Grand Prix and that's just what we did."

Cian handed the keys for his prize to his groom, saying “Frenchy has been with me through thick and thin over the last seven years, including the London Olympics, and the decision was quite simple: My wife and I both have cars and he does not. So Frenchy gets the Golf.”

“He’s been a super support to me over a long period and is always working so hard to help me win, as do all my team. But Frenchy has been wanting a car for ages, so I thought, why not give him this one,” he added.

Cian will now head to the four star show in Fontainebleu, France, and next week to Aachen, Germany, where he will form part of Team Ireland's squad to contest the Nations Cup.

Blue Loyd keeps the flag flying!

  • Blue Loyd

After torrential rain and deteriorating ground conditions, Team Ireland placed fourth in the St Gallen Nations Cup in Switzerland. However, new competition rules award points only to qualifying teams, thereby earning Ireland the second most points behind the Swiss.

Ireland tied for first place after round one with Switzerland, Belgium and Great Britain, with Cian O'Connor going clear on the bronze Olympic medal winner Blue Loyd.

The second round had to be cancelled due to the weather conditions, and the final result was decided by a single rider jump-off, in which Shane Breen picked up only 4 faults. Germany, one of the teams qualifying for points, withdrew from the event due to the weather.

Chef d'équipe Robert Splaine said afterwards, "This was a great result, giving us second of the teams here for league points. All the riders went very well, and it was great to see Cian O'Connor, reunited with his Olympic horse Blue Loyd, going clear. I thought Shane Breen was superb in the jump off, and extremely unlucky to rub a rail."

Cian commented, "I was thrilled to be reunited with Loyd again at St Gallen. He jumped so well and really showed his ability and heart in the way he tackled the course. He made it look easy. I'm glad we could help the team consolidate its position in the league table which means we will qualify for the Nations Cup final in Barcelona this September.”

Unique wins Gothaer Trophy at Nörten-Hardenberg

Cian and Unique won the feature class last Saturday night at the 3 star show in Nörten-Hardenberg, Germany. With a star-studded entry list of 25 competitors it was always going to be a fast class. Albert Zoer of the Netherlands came closest to take the runner up spot.

The following day Cian and Unique were double clear again and placed third in a 1.50m jump off class. In the Grand Prix, Cian and Cooper had a super round just knocking the second fence, but the pair looks to be gelling well together for only their third show.

Cian said afterwards, "Cooper was great today in the Grand Prix; it all feels so easy for him. Unique is an amazingly consistent horse. He had two starts here and was first and third. Every time you ride him you know you're in with a shout in all the world ranking classes, which makes him of course a super animal for anybody’s string."

Karlswood team finish well at Magna!

  • Cooper jumps a clear round in Friday's 1.50m qualifierMagna Racino, Austria
The final week of the Magna Racino tour finished well for my team and I. Trebox Acorada got things well underway when winning Thursday's 1.40m two phase class. Unique followed up with a double clear to finish 6th in the Grand Prix Qualifier the same day. Ross was also double clear in the Grand Prix Qualifier with Carpe Diem which meant he was qualified for his first 3 star 1.55m GP!

Cooper jumped an outstanding clear in Friday's 1.50m qualifier and was really the talking horse of the tournament. His relaxed attitude yet sheer power off the floor really catches everyone's eye. On Sunday morning Nikki jumped a superb clear with Blue Loyd in the Small GP 1.45m final. The pair are really gelling together and it’s lovely to see Loyd so happy and well. Unique won this class and I have to say I don't think I have ever ridden a jump off as quickly as that! See video here.

In the final GP, Ross had an unlucky back rail with Carpe Diem but rode superbly. Cooper gave an exhibition of jumping but showed a little greenness in rideability on a short distance to the last fence which he rubbed off. Overall a very productive two weeks for us all. Next stop Wiesbaden, Germany (17 – 20 May) where I take Cooper and Unique and Nikki rides Blue Loyd and High Yummy.

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Team Karlswood on a roll!

  • Trebox Acorada wins the 1.45m final to claim Cian's second world ranking class of the weekend.
A great finish to our first weekend at Magna Racino, Austria. Ross was placed 5th in the 1.35m final with O'Connell Street and was clear in the small Grand Prix, with Carpe Diem picking up just a single time fault. Blue Loyd jumped superbly for his new rider Nikki, winning Saturday's 1.40m class and also earning a double clear in the 1.40m Grand Prix to place fifth, where Nikki was also second with her other horse High Yummy.

Unique won Friday's 1.50m Grand Prix qualifier for me and was clear in yesterday's Grand Prix, but unfortunately had the first jump down in the jump off. Trebox Acorada won yesterday's 1.45m final to claim my second world ranking class of the weekend.

Finally, my new horse, Cooper, jumped twice and both times clear. So overall, a great start to our summer season.

Please see my horsepower page where you can view new videos of Acorada and Cooper.

Castle Leslie - a roaring success!

  • Cian with Brendan McArdle, MC for his masterclass, showing off his Olympic medal to the appreciative Monaghan audience
  • Cian riding Carpe Diem at the recent Castle Leslie masterclass

On a weekly basis I receive requests for me to give coaching clinics or master classes at various venues worldwide. Unfortunately I don't often get the opportunity to partake as my commitments to my horses, owners and clients must come first.

Jenny Richardson who runs the magnificent equestrian centre in the grounds of Castle Leslie was persistent in her request and got me nailed down to give both a riding demonstration and a coaching clinic last weekend at their magnificent venue!

I was thrilled how the two days went and with the excellent help of both the staff at the equestrian centre and my own Karlswood Team, everything ran like a well oiled machine.

In addition I brought in the expert services of International course designer Tom Holden who was on hand to oversee the lines and exercises were built correctly and the man who undoubtedly made the evening a roaring success was Brendan McArdle from The Irish field newspaper who acted as master of ceremonies for the evening.

On Friday evening the action got underway with Brendan warming up the crowd and I rode in to music on Carpe Diem to a rapturous welcome from the Monaghan crowd. We worked on the flat and then included canter poles, showing the ease with which an experienced grand prix horse could lengthen and shorten. Following that I moved to a horse that was a bit less easy and showed how I train the horses to listen and wait on landing after a jump using a pole on a related distance before and after a wide oxer.

Ross Mulholland then showed off the very promising 6 year old gelding Heartache. We did a grid exercise with him, and the crowd appreciated his classical technique and carefulness. Finally I finished up the evening by jumping a little taller with Carpe Diem and showing the importance of a good leg position over the fence and the need to sit as still as possible to let the horse do his job.

The evening ended with questions and answers and I gave my Olympic medal to the crowd to pass around.

The following day I coached 20 people on their own horses in groups of 4 and all seemed to improve and enjoy themselves.

I have to admit I was exhausted after the two days but enjoyed it immensely!!  

Cian To Offer Coaching Clinic at Castle Leslie

  • Photo: Castle Leslie
  • Photo: Castle Leslie
  • Photo: Castle Leslie

Cian will be running his first coaching clinic since the London Olympics at the very prestigious Castle Leslie Estate in Co. Monaghan.

On Friday 12th April, Cian will conduct a private demonstration on his own international horses in the Castle Leslie Arena. Tickets for this event are €20 per person, or €35 per person for a seat in the prime viewing gallery, which includes a glass of bubbly and canapés.

Then on Saturday 13th April, Cian will give a 1 hour private group lesson in the Castle Leslie Equestrian Centre. Tickets are €180 per person, which includes lunch with Cian in the gallery.

Tickets for this event can be purchased from the Castle Leslie Equestrian Centre:

Tel: 047 88 535
View Brochure » 

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