That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Megan Connell from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
“I have been involved in horses all my life, and this all started with my mum, Michelle.
She was involved in horses in a huge way in England before she moved over here.
I started riding at the age of three on our pony, Beauty, and as a horse rider, I have been lucky to have so many lovely talented horses and ponies over the years, competing in showjumping, showing and eventing.
Some of these horses/ponies progressed to compete in the RDS and also represent the Irish team with my younger brother, Christopher.
Currently, I have four horses of my own, and I take horses in for schooling and competing. Also, I am involved in coaching and also judge at showing shows, mostly as a ride judge. I have run clinics which have proven popular with many people.
I am very lucky to have my stables at my house, so I do not have to worry about travelling. Moreover, I have a lot of flexibility living on-site, especially with my son Theo, who is almost one and loves being out with the animals.
A typical day in my life is to get up and feed the horses, cats and dogs, get our own breakfast, muck out the horses and then start riding before turning out the horses for a bit of downtime and then doing night feeds.
Every day can be different, depending on what exercise the horses need, which can sometimes take the form of a hack around the roads or jumping or flatwork.
Horses are great at keeping us on our toes in that respect, and they are always challenging.
No horse is perfect, and they can all have their off days, just like us humans.
“Tomorrow is another day” is a quote that I always go back to. If things are going south in the arena during a session, I like to get out of the arena.
There is no point blowing your horses’ minds if they just are having a bad day; try again tomorrow.
I hope to compete in the qualifiers for Side Saddle again this year, so we will try our best.
Getting to Dublin again would be my biggest goal, so hopefully, we can smash that one.
I was lucky enough to qualify my mare, Toberpatrick Ruby, for the intermediate side saddle in the RDS last year.
We qualified on our first outing only five weeks after Theo was born, so we really were not expecting miracles, but Ruby pulled it out of the bag for us. Personally, I would say that day was my biggest achievement.
I have been lucky enough to be a horse riding extra in The Vikings and Into The Badlands, and I was also selected to be a stunt double rider for Lacey Chabert in Christmas at Castle Heart; they have been amazing experiences.
I can safely say that it has been my mum who has inspired me to work hard and do my very best, so without her, I would not be where I am now so thank you, mum.
We are lucky in the respect that there are so many female riders out there doing amazing in all equestrian sectors.
Personally, I think that this could be one of the only sectors where men and women are treated pretty equally. All we have to do is look at racing; Rachel Blackmore has really opened up our eyes to what women can do.
If I could turn back the clock, I would encourage myself (and others) to push myself to get as many qualifications as I could.
You really need them these days to do anything; from gaining the Mackey Bar trainings to your BHS exams, do them.
This goes for everyone who has been putting it on the long finger. It is a huge relief to get them out of the way and not to be held back due to not having them.
My life revolves around horses, and I would not have it any other day. From weekends at shows to trips to the tack shops, that is my idea of a good time.
As any equestrian, we always look forward to a trip to the RDS, as for us, that is our holiday.”
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