- Straight from Cavan to Beijing- what a life!
After a busy and enjoyable week in Cavan where I won the Grand Prix we are off to China this week to see how things are done over there and explore new markets.
Cavan was so well run and a really pleasant place to compete for the six day Indoor Championships (see news story HERE).
Prior to my Chinese trip I was fortunate enough to have been able to meet with the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, Luo Linquan (see news story HERE) who was a charming man and gave a great impression of the warmth and hospitality that awaits Ruth and I on our arrival in Beijing this week.
The horses will be kept ticking over at home in my absence and I have an action packed schedule of shows planned for the winter (see schedule HERE).
I have some new faces in the stable which I will tell you about on my return.
Just boarded a plane from JFK airport in New York, heading home. I was coaching at a big national show in Saugerties outside New York for the last week.
It's always fun to travel and watch how others do things and often learn something useful. This trip was especially interesting because as I wasn’t competing I had time to watch and study others. I suppose before I start the standard wasn't very high in the bigger classes but the lack of horsemanship and quality riding was somewhat surprising.
As I was growing up we looked to the American riders for their smooth style and equitation seat but over time by being busy or having too many horses to ride and perhaps less attention to detail, it seems that the basics are fading away and other countries like Ireland who were not known for coaching until the last 10 years really are beginning to show the way.
Of course McLain Ward and a handful of other Americans are as good as any in the world but Darragh Kenny, Darragh Kerins, Richie Moloney and other American based Irish riders could give a riding lesson to many who think they are superior!!
Its the same old mantra that hard work and dedication with a good structure will pass out those who sit back on their laurels.
One interesting point I noticed was the lack of control the riders had in the course. On a distance that measured a little short on five strides many were just galloping in four some making it, others not. Generally in Europe we tend if it's a half stride to add another stride to keep the horse together but there is a happy medium.
Certainly leaving out strides all over the course will not work long term as the horse will get too open and the stride way too big to jump shorter distances. I firmly believe this is why many Americans have great success at home but find it harder when they travel to Europe. The ideal is to be able to do both lengthening and shortening which for most of us is what we try to achieve in our daily flat work.
The Irish Breeders Classic gets underway this Thursday in Barnadown and has been combined with the final of the national and premier leagues over the weekend. Hopefully the show will be well supported as for most of us it will be the last outdoor show of the season.
The Irish Aga Khan winning Team is being honoured at the Curragh this Saturday, organised by my horse feed supplier Gain. So a busy week ahead which is good- let's hope it's a fruitful one!
It’s been an unbelievable year for me and as things are settling down its nice to look back on the journey that culminated in an individual Olympic Bronze medal. Last weekend was enjoyable as we took 11 horses to Cavan to compete for three days.
It's important for me to concentrate on my younger horses now who hopefully will become international stars for the future that I will both campaign and market for sale on the world stage.
The biggest challenge facing me, like many top riders, is how to have enough top class horses to stay at the highest level.
I'm fortunate to have had great supporters and with their help bought top quality horses over the last number of years but if I am to become number one in the world then I need to have five Blue Loyds at any one time so that I can compete more frequently on several horses at the biggest shows.
Unlike many other riders who I respect greatly I have never found a patron per se who would purchase horses to just keep. I have however successfully managed to take a more businesslike approach by putting together syndicates who would purchase a horse for me to improve, compete and then sell for profit.
I would love to take this to the next level by putting together an elite show jumping fund where I would have multiple investors and therefore increase the number of top horses that I could have at any one time. This job has many facets and now that I have done my talking in the ring on the world stage it's time to capitalise on that by ensuring that I remain at the top of the sport in the future.
This week I'm out of the country meeting clients and coaching. Work goes on harder than ever, now is not the time to rest on my laurels! Back to normality- whatever that is!!