New Challenges!



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Back home and back to normality this week after all the excitement of Tryon and the World Equestrian Games has subsided. I must say I relish the demands and pressure of these major championships.

Team Ireland came up short by one spot for Olympic qualification but we all did the best we could. I was thrilled with Good Luck and how he jumped. By the end of the week he was very tired but no regrets as we gave it our best shot and ended up 13th individually.

In Thursday’s first round of the Nations’ Cup there were only five clears out of 125 starters and we were one of them. It was in my view one of the best courses of the week designed by Alan Wade. It’s a tough job building the courses at WEG with so many starters and many different levels of horse and rider.

The format of the WEG is demanding having to jump three consecutive rounds before a day off and this year in Tryon in extremely warm conditions. This somehow took from the competition I felt as many of the horses were tiring. I believe the major championships should test real scope and not become an endurance test!

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I was delighted to have been elected by my peers as the riders’ representative for showjumping to FEI committee level. Many challenges lie ahead for our sport. On the positive side we have seen a great increase in the number of shows and participation but on the flip side there is a lack of horses available to buy and a lack of horses being properly produced, as nowadays riders are going from one five star show to the next with no time to develop the next star.

There are many issues - invitations, back boots, improving the FEI’s own product; the Longines Nations’ Cups, are all hot topics that need debate. In the past I felt at times "the riders’" views were put forward but may not have always been all the riders. This is partly due to laziness on our part and only a few bothered to communicate their points. It’s my aim to get the view of the guy ranked No.5 in the world as well as the guy ranked No.905 and beyond. Nations’ Cups, World Cups and Global Champions Tour are all different series that offer top sport. We need to continue to find common ground and be flexible to make things work in the best interests of improving the sport in the long term.
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This time of year I tend to turn my focus to horse searching and shopping! Many of my clients tend to stock up for horses over the winter and so I’m constantly on the look out. Today alone I must have studied 30 potential horses to try for different people. In addition I’m searching for top horses for myself that can either go big classes right away or something to develop over the winter that can be a top Grand Prix horse next year.

If anyone wants to get in touch with me regarding any of my points above please email me directly - karlswood@me.com

Keep you posted over the winter. Best Wishes,
C.

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Cian O'Connor