Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: February, 2011

Off To Sunny Spain!

Hey, everyone,

All the horses arrived safely in Spain at the Sunshine Tour today. I fly there tomorrow and look forward to jumping there this weekend.

Check back next week for news and pictures.

Chat soon

The Circus Moves On Again!

  • My groom Frenchy with one of my two identical trucks that will travel in convoy to the Sunshine Tour in Spain

Hey everyone, it's been a hectic week at Karlswood. A lot of organising in the logistics of travelling 15 horses to the Sunshine Tour. They travel tomorrow night and I'll be glad when they're gone!

We had 19 originally but as Ruth had her accident she won't be able to take her horse and instead has given him to John Floody to jump in the Chippison League while we're away. Also, we sold three young horses in the last ten days which is always good and now we can use Spain to watch and perhaps pick up some replacements.

I rode a new mare in the Chippison 1m35 class at Cavan, which was won by Robert Splaine. She is an 8 year-old mare called Accorada and I think could be very special. She has a technique and a brain to die for and only needs further experience, which she will get in Spain.

In addition, I take Ballymore Eustace who I'm really looking forward to this year, Larkhill Cruiser who I will jump in the early Grand Prix, and towards the end of the tour I will step Splendor up a gear. Also I ride my new mare La Belle who I think is very promising. Mark Kinsella was 3rd in Cavan last Sunday withn Jackie Harris's Ozy Clover and he also heads to Spain along with Waterboy and Sebo.

I also have three students training with me on the tour and Johnny O'Connell will be travelling with me for the duration to assist with the coaching. Early in my career I realised you can’t do everything on your own and I'm both fortunate and grateful to have such a great team around me who help keep the show on the road!

I don’t fly to Spain until next week so check back Sunday for more news.

Best wishes,

Never A Dull Moment

  • Me and Ruth before the accident

It's been a busy week.

Last Thursday I went to Austria and bought a really nice 8 yr old mare who will be a great addition to my string. On Friday we were working all the horses at home on the outdoor ring. It was a cold enough day and all the horses were unbelievably fresh.

I suppose with the poor weather over Christmas none of them got their usual routine and lately have just been ridden in the indoor. I jumped a few of my young horses and they were in top form.

Ruth was riding her new horse and she said to me that he was a bit fresh and would just do flat work today. The next thing I noticed he was bucking, and playing around and after he threw his head into her face she lost her strength and fell off. The horse fell with her and stood on her back as he was getting away.

A horrific sight, and extremely daunting for Ruth and all who saw it. Ruth was conscious all the time but screaming with pain. We called the ambulance and they were at the yard within 25 minutes. At this stage she was still on the ground with rugs over her and I travelled in the ambulance with her. The 25 minute drive to the hospital in Drogheda felt like the longest journey of my life. A thousand thoughts were going through my head and the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome at this time was frightening.

All the staff at the hospital were tremendous. Despite being over-crowded and under staffed they were all so helpful and polite. Ruth's x-rays revealed a break to her sternum and thankfully just bruising to her neck, shoulders and back. She's naturally disgusted as had all sorts of plans in the coming weeks.  She was kept in hospital for 24 hours but thankfully is home now with me.

Obviously it's a setback but it could have been a hell of a lot worse. She was wearing a riding hat thankfully. On speaking to another rider this weekend he said his livery clients are having the same problems. Horses too fresh, do damage to themselves and the ground if turned out and it’s not always practical when 40 horses are in work all the time. It's a Catch 22.

In future though we must ensure that the fizz is out of them before they work outdoors. Perhaps this is something that others can take from this experience. As professional riders we’re always busy running to the next target without thinking of any risk. Look at the horrific plane crash in Cork last weekend. I mean you can be killed crossing the road but we must acknowledge that horse sports are high risk and this incident will certainly make us at Karlswood a lot more aware.

On a positive note though, it means I get to spend Valentine's Day with my fiancée! I was meant to be teaching in Milan but put that off to stay with Ruth, even though she wanted me to go. I think she too is enjoying the service here in Foxlodge, being waited on hand and foot by moi. I even washed and blow-dried her hair last night - hidden talents!!

Thank God Ruth will be ok and will make a full recovery with rest. It makes you stop and think though about what is really important in life.

Best Wishes,

A Great Finish To An Amazing Tour

  • Larkhill Cruiser in action at the Al Ain Grand Prix, where we finished 2nd

Hey everyone,

I never thought I'd say it, but its nice to be back to the rain! I had a great experience in the UAE for the last five weeks but for me there's no place like home.

The UAE legs of the Arab Tour took place at Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain. All situated within 130kms from Dubai. I stayed in Dubai for the duration and it was nice that many friends and family came to visit so we made a bit of a holiday out of it as well.

It's an extraordinary part of the world to experience and the people certainly don't do anything by half measures. Everything is big and spectacular and there seems to be a great 'can do' attitude about everything.

On the equestrian front I was amazed how the sport has evolved there. The riders have sought help from trainers from Europe and the USA and are very much keen to step up their game to the top level. The shows were well run with super facilities and great prize money. Last weekend in Al Ain, Arabella was 5th in a 1m40 and second in the small Grand Prix.  Larkhill Cruiser was 2nd in the three big classes including the Grand Prix, which secured him the Leading Horse title of the UAE tour and me the Leading Rider.

Paul McAuley who runs Emirate Equestrian centre was a huge support throughout all the organisation and without his help it would have been impossible. I gave clinics at three different clubs and have been asked to return on a more regular basis to teach, which I look forward to doing.

I'm home now for a few days but travel on Wednesday to try a horse in Austria, then go to Milan over the weekend to give a clinic to 25 people. Gotta keep at it!

Check back next week for more news.

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