David O’Brien, Top Showjumper – Summer 2005

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David O’Brien is a Junior Certificate student at Presentation College, Athenry. He is sixteen years old and the youngest of four children to Tomas and Frances O’Brien from the Galway Equestrian Centre, Peakroe, Athenry.

Born into a family steeped in all thing equestrian it is no surprise that David would join in the family tradition of show jumping. At the age of eight David began riding 128cm ponies and it was not long before he was collecting red rosettes on Greenville Lady but it was on the young novice 128acm pony Miss Simpson that David first caught the eye of the experts around the show jumping circuit.

He qualified Miss Simpson for the R.D.S. in Dublin on their first year when the pony was six and David was eleven. This combination had many wins including R.D.S. qualifiers, Millstreet Discovery and Grand Prix in Cavan, Ennis, Kill, … the list goes on and on.

At the age of twelve riders move on to 138cm ponies and he was so lucky to have two wonderful ponies in Rosie Duncan and Ballindooley Queen, again a novice produced by David. Each day at all the major shows in the county David was winning on one and being placed on the other he also made his first appearance on an Irish Team in England and took home a team and individual medal.

When you turn fourteen years old you move on up the ladder to 148cm ponies and it is in this category that David has really come into his own. The production of young ponies to international standard has always been a specialty in the O’Brien household and with the purchase of Bertas Clover, as a three year, old few were to know what was in store. From the beginning both rider and pony got along very well and it wasn’t long before they started winning at all the major shows up and down the county.

On his performance here in Ireland David was chosen to represent his country abroad during 2004. He is the third member of his family to wear the green jacket abroad and where ever they jump the O’Briens are always introduced as being from Athenry, Ireland and “The Fields” are often sung after a victory in a foreign land.

In 2004 David and Baetas Clover competed at eight international shows in France, Holland, Belgium and Italy and never came home empty handed. He was second individually in France and Holland as well as being on the winning team in Holland. In Germany he won his first major international class which led to his selection as anchor man on the team from then on “The Ice Man” as he became known was always last to go for Ireland never once let his team down always returning with the best results of the day for Ireland.

The next major outing was the European Championships which were held in Jaszkowo, Poland in August. It’s a very long way from Athenry to Poland by road but the O’Brien Family set out with dad Tomas driving his truck and all the ponies of the Irish Team, mam Frances navigated and brother Thomas came as groom. David flew from Dublin – his first time on an airplane. In the intense heat and dust in Jaszkowo, Bertas Clover became known as “the wonder Pony” and people came each day to see her perform.

They did very well and finished up sixth individually which was a major achievement. David’s older brother Joseph was fourth at the European Championships in 1998 also with a six year old pony, “Mid West Star”, which has since gone on to win two gold medals for the U.K.

David had three other trips to Europe in 2004 but the most memorable has to be his Grand Prix win in Liege in Belgium. This had never been won by an Irish rider before and we can still feel the excitement we felt as the Irish Flag was raised and the National Anthem played.

David had many other successes down through the years on other ponies. With “Star of Cashel” he is the holder of the high jump record standing at 1.85m which was not previously broken for twenty five years. Just a few weeks ago he was honoured as the “lrish Field” young show jumper of the year 2004 and in so doing is the first Galway person to do so. Previous winners include Jessica Kurten, Shane Carey and Billy Twomey to name but a few.

So as David now moves on in age so also are the days of ponies over and now, he moves on to horses where once again young animals are being trained to hopefully in the not too distant future represent Ireland. He has already jumped in his first senior Grand Prix with just one fence down so we think the best is yet to come.

David has to be careful though as his two older brothers hold some serious records of their own. Joseph won many titles at the R.D.S. Dublin, Millstreet, Cavan, France, Germany and Italy in his time. He is returning this year to Ireland after completing his studies at Groningen University in Holland where he combined his academic studies with time spent at the VDL Stud which is one of the biggest breeding units in Europe for Show-jumping horses. And not to be outdone Thomas who is a Leaving Certificate student in the Vocational School in Athenry and has won more national championships at the R.D.S in ponies and horses and is also the youngest ever recipient of an Irish international Bursary.

Show jumping is now the major enterprise on the O’Brien farm and with a fine yard developed which includes first class stabling, sand arena and horse walker and planning permission obtained for an indoor arena we hope the name O’Brien, Athenry will be heard far and wide.

See also – David O’Brien – World of ShowJumping – July 2021

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About this record

Written by To be confirmed!

Published here 08 Jan 2024 and originally published Summer 2005

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