Excerpt from the May issue of Heels Down Magazine.
Sinead Halpin is a CCI4* eventer and member of the United States Equestrian Team based in Long Valley, N.J.
I was a working student from the time I was 15 years old to about 19. I had a pretty amazing horse, but I kept falling off and getting eliminated all the time. I had traded a young horse that was a little too complicated for me to a professional and got this two-star horse named Killian, and I thought, ‘Well I can do a one-star, two-star, three-star and then I’m going to the Olympics – so I’ll have that done by the time I’m 21 and that’ll be great!’
I did one Preliminary and it went well, so then moved up to Intermediate because he had done some upper level competitions already and I figured I was ready. I went into the Intermediate show jumping at Rocking Horse [Horse Trials in Altoona, Fla.] and jumped two jumps, then the horse stopped and I fell off. This was back in the day where the rules allowed for two falls in show jumping, so I got back on, jumped two more fences and fell off again. That was it, so I got eliminated. Being a kid, I didn’t realize how big of a problem this was, so I entered Red Hills [Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Fla.] in the Intermediate.
The horse jumped around cross-country great, and I proceeded to show jumping. I canter up to first fence – the horse stops, I fall off and end up on the other side of the first fence. At this point, I’m so mortified because it was such a big event. I wasn’t that hurt but I was winded and slow to stand up, so they put me on the gator and hauled me out of the ring.
I couldn’t even make eye contact with anyone because I was so embarrassed. I remember going past David O’Connor and I wasn’t riding with him at the time, but he was riding and everyone was in their Pinque coats and I just thought it was the worst moment ever.