Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: January, 2010

Leipzig - Still On Winning Form

  • Splendor was the star of the week at Leipzig

Hi everyone - got home late last night from Leipzig which I was happy about as it was minus 10 there. I have to say all the horses jumped well this week. I didn't over-jump them and each horse started in just two classes. Splendor was the star of the week and jumped really well when winning the 1m45 on Thursday.

He has been consistently placed in the last few shows and I really feel he's ready to step up a gear now and jump the big stuff in the months ahead.

Rancorrado jumped good in the world cup qualification and in the World Cup itself had two down, but I must say he was a bit unlucky. There was a difficult line to the combination and I didn't manage to have him collected enough jumping into it and he had the first part down. He also rubbed the last fence, which was a bit of a joker, a massive vertical jumping into the wall. I'd say if I had been clear to this point though we would have managed to negotiate it!

The horses get a week off now, but Splendor and Echo Beach fly to Abu Dhabi next Sunday. The show begins there on Thursday week. I'm busy at home this week teaching and doing the office work - all important aspects of the business. As you've heard me say before it's not just about competing in the ring.

I've got quite a busy schedule over the next few months with many people emailing me, requesting me to do clinics, talks and demonstrations at various venues around the world. All this takes a bit of putting together and in addition I have to make time to go and try out some horses and also sell some of the ones I have. So basically it's a week off for the horses but not a week off for me!

Check back next week for a preview about Abu Dhabi.

Best wishes,

Basel - 'Ar Muin Na Muice' !

  • Winning the Grand Prix and being presented with the Leading Rider prize by Thomas Straumann, CEO of H. Moser & Cie.Picture: Sascha P. Dubach

Hello everyone, just returned home from Basel, where I had a superb weekend, all the horses are jumping out of their skin. It was a beautiful venue, situated in the centre of the city. The arena was spacious, the ground and facilities were excellent and many of the world's top riders were present.

I think the organising committee did a wonderful job in this inaugural event which I believe will go from strength to strength in years to come. The weekend started well for me with Splendor finishing second in the opening event and Irish Independent Echo Beach got me into the winner's enclosure for the first time on the second day when she won the speed class.

Rancorrado jumped well on Friday night when he went clear in the main event and was placed 11th. On Sunday morning I was lying in 5th place in the Leading Rider standings with only two classes remaining. Luckily for me the horses were in top form and when Irish Independent Echo Beach won the first of those classes and Rancorrado bagged the Grand Prix, the Leading Rider title was mine and a very nice watch from H. Moser & Cie, which you will see being presented above by their CEO Thomas Straumann.

Rancorrado really is an amazing animal. Following on from his London successes at Christmas he answered all the questions yesterday and was one of only four clear rounds over a very tough 1m60 track. Sometimes you need the luck of the draw and when I was last to go in the jump-off knowing that the other riders had faulted I opted for a safe clear round and when coming home with only one time fault that clinched the victory for me.

Someone said to me recently that winning is a great habit, so hopefully I can keep this run of form going! No different than a football team, everyone gets their chance. You get on a roll and you win one match, or one Grand Prix, and then you win the next and it's amazing what can be achieved when the confidence is up.

I learnt a long time ago that show jumping is a great leveller and while I'll definitely enjoy the success I'm fully aware to have my feet firmly on the ground. The headline, you may notice, is in Irish -  'ar muin na muice', which is something my grandmother Doreen would have said when things were going well, and it means 'on the pig's back'!

Next weekend we jump in Leipzig with the same horses. Check back for more news over the weekend.

Best wishes,

No Rest For The Wicked

  • A picture taken of me at Olympia in London in December

Rancorrado, Splendor and Echo Beach arrive in Basel tomorrow morning. It's the first time the four-star event will be held there and it promises to be a world class show.

Following this, I will compete at the World Cup show at Leipzig, Germany and in the first week in February we will travel to Abu Dhabi. I've often spoken about planning and the importance of it. Now I find myself in a situation where I have decisions to make and sometimes the less obvious one may be the better choice.

After Olympia I secured 17 World Cup points and I believe if I wanted to chase the World Cup shows and get to the Final this could be achieved, given Rancorrado's current form.

I, however, have decided that this would not be the best thing to do insofar as my main goal with this horse for 2010 will be the World Equestrian Games. I will therefore give all my horses a six-week break following Abu Dhabi, possibly do one indoor show in early April and then go back outdoors and build the horses back up to top level for the month of May.

It's extremely difficult to have horses in top form all year round. I used to give them long breaks in the winter but I've found it doesn't work well and takes the horses too long to get fit again. Instead I try and give a series of mini breaks throughout the season, like two or three weeks and even during their six week break that's coming up they'll be kept hacking and lightly working.

There's always the temptation following such good results like those at London to keep asking the question. I, though, have always taken the long-term view and in planning a horse's season there must be one main goal and every decision must be a build up to that event rather than trying to have too many irons in the fire.

That's my theory anyway - let's hope it works. Here's to the medals in Kentucky!!

Best wishes,

2010 - Upwards And Onwards

  • 2009 was one of my most successful years, career-wise

Hi Everyone

Hope you enjoyed the holidays. We're all recovering here in Ireland from the bad weather. It's been the worst conditions experienced for 50 years - everything has been disrupted, including my workshops at Waterside and my demonstrations at Sligo and Killarney. All have been postponed, but new dates will go up shortly on this site.

2009 was a difficult year, especially here in Ireland with the recession seeming to hit us more than others. The experts say that the first six months of this year will not be pretty either. My view, though, is that it's now going to be survival of the fittest. While we all enjoyed and relished the good years and the Celtic Tiger, this was not reality. I think many people within Ireland lived beyond their means and in reading the newspapers and following what's going on it's sad to see the demise of people who were once thought untouchable.

We must cut our cloth to measure, keep costs down, but ultimately keep the head up, keep positive and keep going. 2009 was probably one of my most successful years career-wise, reaching my highest ranking ever - 30th in the world - and winning the Alltech Olympia Grand Prix for Ireland, the first time in 22 years anyone had done this.

I saw a new film the other night, The Road. It's very appropriate for the times in which we live. I won't spoil the storyline for you but the gist of it is - keep going, never give up, and keep the faith.

Most people I talk to at home are down about the economic situation but me being always the optimist I try and look at the positive and always in bad times I think somebody must do well and there have to be opportunities out there.

My generation and younger perhaps had things too easy over the past ten years. However, the next five years will sort the men from the mice. Some may wonder why I'm discussing business when I'm supposed to be a show jumper but as I've said on numerous occasions it's not enough just to be able to ride a horse and see a stride. The modern day show jumper has to be able to survive in the business world as well.

Over the next number of years it's going to be harder to find owners and sponsors and as a result, top class horses. In a strange way these challenges actually motivate me and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to what I hope will be a successful and fruitful year.

Check back later for more.

Best wishes,

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