Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog

Great week for Karlswood students

Sometimes its harder to watch from the ground than be actually competing yourself. 

 Last weekend’s thrilling Furusiyya Nation’s Cup Final was a great competition and went down to the wire with Germany’s Marcus Ehning beating Big Star and Nick Skelton in a jump off. It was fitting for Ludger Beerbaum’s last team performance that they would win and for good measure he produced a double clear. 

 My involvement there was coaching American young rider Lillie Keenan. She was called up to jump in the second round at what’s arguably one of the biggest Nation’s Cup competitions there is and she did it in style. 

Lillie and her partner Super Sox have a great partnership and they skipped around like it was easy for them to post a clear round and help Team USA to a third place podium finish. I was thrilled for Lillie and her family but particularly her mum Pam who loves the sport more than anyone I know and I could see on her face that this one evening was somehow a reward that her belief in her own daughter and indeed her own work and effort put in over the years was all well worth it and justified. 

We all need a break and American Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland is always trying to develop new talent. I’m a great believer in that you make your own luck and more important than getting the opportunity is to be ready in case it comes your way and when it does to grab it with open arms and realise that today is the day. 

Lillie did that extremely well and she delivered when it counted, which in my book is what winners do and this should be the basis of greater things to come hopefully. 

The following day Nikki Walker, whom I’ve been coaching for the last four years, was competing in the $86k Caledon Grand Prix in Canada. Nikki is from Aurora outside Toronto and has progressed through the hunters and equitation to small show jumping classes and now this year has won two major international Grands Prix with Deko de Landetta Z. 

I was in Angelstone show outside Toronto helping Nikki a few weeks back and as she is based at home this time of year we discuss all the plans for the horses, their work and show schedules and I study all her videos. 

I have two of my Karlswood staff with her full-time and they assist Nikki to keep all in our programme and structure. I’ve always maintained that we want to coach people to become professionals as opposed to keeping them amateurs. By Nikki doing some shows on her own and reviewing them after with me it has allowed her to develop as a horsewoman and make decisions about warm up, distances, turns, time allowed etc. She rode the quickest jump off I have ever seen her ride last week to claim victory in a competitive international field. I wouldn’t have liked to try to catch her! 

It’s amazing listening to both girls following there super performances. The enthusiasm, confidence and outlook all got a boost. Let nobody try to tell you that taking part is what it’s all about. We all have to start somewhere and winning is not instant but I for one won’t celebrate mediocrity- winning is not important - it’s everything!!! 

You can watch Lillie in action here and Nikki Walker here

I’m writing this to you on my flight from Dublin to Los Angeles, where I compete this weekend. You can follow my competitions on my Facebook link here

Chat soon, - Cian

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