Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: May, 2013

Nörten-Hardenberg - A Hidden Gem

Hey Everyone,

I have to say I came away from the show last weekend thinking this is what showjumping should be about, and the importance of us riders to support these kinds of shows. Let me explain. Nörten-Hardenberg is a small town near Göttingen, about 110km south of Hanover. The horse show is set on the grounds of an extensive 300 year old estate and the world class Burg Hotel looks out literally onto the showjumping arena which is situated in a walled garden and totally surrounded by stands for the show. Enthusiastic supporters flocked to the show with their rain gear and umbrellas and the stands were full day and night no matter what the weather. It's one of the few venues that manages to attract the public and makes a valiant effort to create a spectacle from each class which is good for the riders and the competition sponsors. Live TV coverage for the two major classes is also a big bonus.

Count von Hardenburg, his family and the show’s organisers create a family-like atmosphere throughout the weekend and the hospitality that is laid on for riders and owners is second to none. Remembering that this is a 3 star show which does not have to provide meals etc. for riders, the organisers nevertheless go out of their way to make everyone feel at home. In contrast, at some of the "major" shows nowadays you don't even get a bottle of water unless you buy a VIP table, which I am completely against. As international riders we must safeguard the direction of the sport. Shows like Nörten-Hardenberg which manage to keep going in tough economic times deserve our support as they manage to create top quality sport and keep tradition alive, along with some kind of natural environment- a real horse show, which I feel many other shows seriously lack.

It's the kind of place when you have been once, you will pencil in to the calendar for next year. Nowadays there are so many good shows but often I come away disappointed that the whole weekend was only about one class and for the rest of the time they can feel like a training show. Not this one. Nörten-Hardenberg is the best kept secret in the international showjumping calendar and I for one will be booking in early for next year!!

We travel to St Gallen, Switzerland this weekend for the second leg of the Furusiyya Nations Cup League. I take Cooper, Blue Loyd and Unique. The Irish team is looking to maintain it's good position in the standings following an excellent display from the lads in La Baule - so let's hope we can do our bit this Friday!

Check back next week for more news.

Good weather makes all the difference!

Hey Everyone,

We had a great trip in Magna Racino, Austria for two weeks (see recent news) and it's nice to return home for a few days. Ruth and I enjoyed sitting outside the last two nights, enjoying the fine weather while having a barbecue! Lord Sebastian Coe came to the Mansion House on Tuesday for a special lunch to present Olympic pins to the medal winners from London 2012. It was a lovely occasion with a small number of people and I believe we are the only country except the host nation that Lord Coe came to for this purpose, which makes it all the more special. I think I might pin it onto my riding jacket to bring me luck and keep me safe!

Today I travel to the RDS young horse qualifier in Athenry, Galway to look for some potential superstars of the future. Over the weekend I will start to build up the horses again for the global tour in Wiesbaden (17 – 20 May) where I take Cooper and Unique.

Chat soon, Best wishes,

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