Ever since I started the equestrian careers series, I’ve wanted to interview a Grand Prix jumper. Sorry dressage folks and eventers, but to me equestrian fame is stepping in the International jumper ring! I grew up idolizing Frank Chapot and Beezie Madden and Margie Engle, and I have no doubt that today’s interviewee will be idolized by young equestrians as well!
So I’m excited to bring you these interview questions from Richie Moloney, Irish show jumper now residing in Wellington, Florida!
Can you give us a brief overview of who you are and what you do in the horse world for non-hunter/jumper riders who may not be familiar!
I am Richie Moloney. I am a show jumping rider based in Wellington, Florida. I have lived/worked in the USA for the last 6 years but am originally from Ireland and still compete for Ireland at International events.
Best moment you’ve ever had showing horses?
Being a member of the winning Irish nations cup team at Dublin RDS horse show in 2012.
What kind of qualities do you look for in a horse that makes a good jumper at the Grand Prix level?
I think that obviously first having a horse with a lot of scope to jump the size and width of the fences is a big priority. They also need to be rideable and adjustable between the fences to be able to jump many of todays very technical courses. I also tend to prefer horses that have a bit more blood and really want to be careful over the jumps.
What’s in your show backpack?
I have what I would think most riders have in theirs, gloves, an assortment of spurs for various horses, crops of various sizes for various horses, an extra pair of sunglasses, and my GPA helmet. Our grooms carry backpacks with all of the things needed at the ring for each horse. I only carry what I need with me since (especially at WEF) I am typically going from one ring to another. I learned the hard way not to leave too many valuable things in my ring bag as mine got stolen from the ring during a class at WEF last year.
What’s your favorite show, and almost as important – what’s the best thing to eat at said show?
My favorite show would have to be the RDS Dublin Horse show. It is the biggest show in Ireland of the entire year and I have competed there since I was riding 12.2 ponies. So being able to be on a winning nations cup team in front of my home crowd was an amazing feeling. I think my favorite food there would have to be the chips (fries for Americans!) with curry sauce.
What made you want to become a professional rider?
My whole family is involved with horses so you could say that I was born into it! My parents own Warrington Top Flight Equestrian center in Kilkenny, Ireland. I have two brothers and two sisters all of us competed for Ireland up to the young rider level. My brother still competes in International Grand Prix’s in Europe currently. So I guess you could say that I have been a part of the family business from a very young age.
You’ve competed at some of the most prestigious shows there are, and certainly seem to handle nerves well! What’s some advice you have for amateur riders who struggle with nerves when showing?
I think the best advice I could give is try make sure when you are walking the course, and warming up is to make sure you don’t rush. Everyone always jokes that one day I will run out the 45 second clock when I go in the ring because I always go in and take my time. But I think that is important that you stay relaxed when you go in the ring and take the time to go over your plan before starting your course.
What advice do you have for a young, aspiring rider trying to make it to the top without an expensive horse to start?
I rode a lot of what you would call rouge ponies and horses when i was younger many of them my father bought for not a lot of money because they had bad habits like stopping at the fences or bucking. My father also bred a lot of the horses I rode including one I took to the junior european championships. I feel like that gave me the opportunity to learn how to ride a variety of horses at all levels and also starting young horses. I think this is important because as a professional rider even at the top level of the sport you will have to be able to adapt to ride all sorts of different horses from made horses, green young horses and ones that are difficult and need some retraining. So I definitely think being able to take the opportunity to ride as many different types of horses as you can is important they can all teach you something different.
Thanks to Richie for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions. Good luck at WEF this year, and I hope to see your name high up in the rider standings!