In the Magazine: Cian O’Connor on the Money, Horses and People that Show Jumping Needs

The benefit of more shows is increased participation, increased prize money, but the down side is – is it sustainable? Where are these next horses coming from?

Excerpt from the September issue of Heels Down Magazine.

A young Cian O’Connor once painted the words “Working Towards the Summer Olympics 2004” on the side of his horse van. It was a public declaration of his fierce ambition  —  the same attitude that recently earned him team gold and individual bronze medals in the 2017 FEI European Championships, brought home a bronze medal from the London Olympics, and has made him one of the top show jumpers in the world.  

Now 37 years old, with two decades at the top of the sport under his belt and a highly successful business in his Karlswood Stables in Ireland, he’s weathered the ups and downs with the sport of  show jumping as well. From sponsorship and financial pressures, to a shortage of good horses, to riders banding together to speak out against FEI rulings, Cian has cultivated a business-like approach to the sport.

The Race for Prize Money

Riders are always looking for ways to finance an expensive sport, and they will naturally follow the prize money, Cian explained. So for him, the development of the Global Champions Tour — the show jumping series which travels the globe with the aim to showcase only the best horses and riders in the world — is a bright spot for the sport.

“It has increased the prize money which has put pressure on other shows and the FEI to increase their prize money,” said Cian. But beyond than that, more money in the sport elevates everyone, not just winners of a high-stakes class. “It’s brought the level of the sport up. It’s increased participation globally, which has brought people into the sport for coaching and for buying horses.”

Read the full article in the September issue. Download the Heels Down Magazine app in the iTunes AppStore: or Google Play for Android phones and tablets: Don’t forget, the first issue for new subscribers is FREE for 30 days!

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