Sinead Halpin is now a member of Team Absorbine®. We spoke with Sinead about her new farm, her new up and coming horses, and her competition plans this season.
We are very excited to introduce the newest member of Team Absorbine®, internationally renowned Three-Day Event competitor and trainer Sinead Halpin! Sinead has been competing at the Advanced level since 1999 and placed 3rd at Rolex in 2011, which was her first CCI4* competition ever! In 2014, Sinead rode for the United States Equestrian Team at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France aboard “Tate”, Manoir de Carneville. She has trained for years with Eventing legend David O’Conner and spent a year working under William Fox-Pitt. Sinead’s commitment to continued learning, quality horse care, and teaching the next generation of Event horses and riders not only makes her a great rider, but a great all around horse person! In honor of our new partnership, we caught up with Sinead to discuss her plans for the season, the new young horses she is bringing along, and her tips and tricks for riders looking to move up the levels.
Sinead and husband Tik Maynard are in for a wild ride this year with starting a new farm down south and competing with their young horses. We are so happy for Sinead as she takes this exciting step!
Absorbine®: What has Sinead Halpin Eventing been up to so far this season, and what are your competition plans going forward?
Sinead: Well Sinead Halpin Eventing and Tik Maynard Company have taken a bit of a grown up shift this year by purchasing a farm in Ocala, FL. This is the first year that we actually stayed down south for the summer. Normally, we travel back and forth, but it’s a great time of year for us because we have a lot of nice young up-and-coming horses and Florida is a great place to train young horses. We’ve done some local southern events down here with our youngsters. We’ve also been working pretty hard on developing the farm so that it is a place where we can not only develop the young horses, but where we can also produce them through the upper levels and have a facility where people are happy to have their upper level horses as well. We’ve really been making our focus the foundation of the farm, because as Absorbine® would know, what goes on in the barn and how the horses are kept and looked after day-to-day is what allows the horses to be successful and for our team to ultimately be sustainable. It’s a humble place and Tik and I have learned how to do everything from hang drywall to cut tile to build a bathroom. It’s great to feel like your building something. I think that in horse sports in general, and especially when you’re competing at a level of high performance, you’re always in such a hurry and everything has to happen right now. When you’re working on a farm, you can’t do it that way. It just takes time. I think that’s actually been a great learning opportunity with the horses that we’re training; things just take time and we’ve been able to take a breath and work on things and notice small changes every day, which is great, instead of trying to take on the world every day. That’s the big picture, but we have to get there in stages.
Absorbine®: Tell us about some of the young horses that you are currently working to bring up the levels.
Sinead: Of course! One that just came in from Germany a couple of months ago is a five-year-old Trakehner, and he’s beautiful, a real modern type. His name is SW Taleyo. He is a really lovely horse and he’s been out schooling around here, doing some local things, and will be out and about this fall. We also purchased a horse called SW Lhittle Rascal. He is a seven-year-old and I just stole him from the dressage world and he has been to two competitions and won them both on his dressage score. He is just a stunning, big, black Hanoverian and he loves to jump and gallop. He is looking to do a few more novices and then he’ll move up to training. There’s another horse called Stakkato Bronx, an Irish Sport Horse bought in October and he has won a couple of novices and qualified for the Five-Year-Old Championship at Fair Hill. The nice thing about a couple of these young horses is that I’ve been able to take them to their first cross country school and literally jump them over their first jump. Producing them from the bare bones of it has been really fun. I’m in a good situation right now. We have a couple of good investors and good owners who believe in producing horses from the start and we’re looking for nice horses with good pedigree, good conformation, light mouths, and horses that would really suit a successful eventing career.
Absorbine®: What is your favorite part about progressing with a young horse?
Sinead: I think it’s having the patience honestly, it’s having the time. It’s doing it the way that you want to do it and producing a horse that hopefully you’ll get to ride for a long time coming. I’m lucky enough to have ridden at the highest level in this sport and I know how hard it is and how mentally strong and stable these horses have to be. I know how brave they need to be. I know the footwork, the foundation, and the training that goes into it, so that when you show up on that big day you really feel prepared, that you don’t blur past something. Often if you get a horse that’s a little bit older that’s been produced by another rider, you say “well that’s just the way this horse is, that’s just who they are”, and you decide to just accept that. Sometimes it’s a bad habit that they have or something that’s happened to them mentally that they’re nervous about, where they cope, but they’re not relaxed. The problem with that is that certain things will catch up with you and will catch up at the worst time, when you’re at the World Games or the Olympic Games or at your Championship. When they’re young and they’re raw, you feel like you have the time to show them the way and if they are struggling with something it is on your shoulders to make sure that you don’t move to the next stage until they’re okay with it. When it comes to developing young horses, if you skip steps, the only person who is going to pay for that at the end of the road is you. There is no one else to point the finger at. When they’re young it’s really awesome to show them your vision of what that perfect partnership would look like. You have to hold yourself accountable. It’s tricky! Sometimes you’ll make a mistake one day, but when they’re young you can come back the next day and start over. Having our own farm, we are able to really do what we need to do to make sure that these horses get the best start that they can, which is pretty awesome!