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Niamh McEvoy – Kindness is key

Tuesday, 10 January 2023
The Next Generation

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen “The horses do so much for us, they put so much effort into it," Ireland's rising star Niamh McEvoy says. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Ireland’s Niamh McEvoy made her five-star debut in Dublin last summer, impressing when placing 10th in the CSIO5* 1.60m Longines Grand Prix of Ireland with her 13-year-old mare Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (Limmerick x Lux Z). The 18-year-old, who finished school in June 2022, has since then taken a year off to focus fully on riding and shares her time between Greg Broderick’s Ballypatrick Stables in Tipperary, Ireland, and her family’s Lismore Stables at home in Omagh. To WoSJ, Niamh tells about the step from junior to senior level and how her mother has taught her that kindness is key when it comes to horses.

School vs horses

“I started to work with Greg in the summer of 2021 and he has been really good, giving me amazing horses to ride and great opportunities,” Niamh tells. “He is a fantastic coach. As I was still finishing school when I first started to work for him, it was complicated; I had to be at school during the week. However, there is a great team at Ballypatrick Stables and I was able to juggle both. Now, I go up and down as much as possible, keeping my own horses at home. I take some of them to Greg for training, while my mum is amazing and rides the horses when I am not at home.” 

“At home, we have a small yard and both of my parents have normal jobs outside of horses,” Niamh continues. “My mum Maeve is a schoolteacher, and my dad Richard is a solicitor – so it is a lot. We only have six boxes; we try to keep the numbers small and focus on quality over quantity and my mum does most of the management. Especially when I was still going to school, there were many long days and late evenings, but my parents were adamant that I had to complete my A-levels before I could do horses full-time – and I think they would prefer that I went to university. However, at the moment, I have taken a gap year and I would say I will stick with horses. I am born into it: My grandparents Jim McEvoy and Pat O’Neill were always very involved in producing horses and my mum was a very good rider. She used to breed and produce horses, and is – I think – a very good judge of a horse. We’ve always had horses and ponies at the yard, and I was fanatical about riding since I was small – I was always on a pony.” 

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen "I believe that when you create a great bond with your horse, they fight for you differently," Niamh says. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen.

Niamh’s mother Maeve has done most of her training. “She has helped me the most, and still today, she is there for me when I need her,” Niamh says. “I get on really well with her and I love how she works with the horses and how she treats them – she has taught me a lot. She is really into horsemanship and a very natural way; she lets horses be horses. She has been a huge part of my career. I really love horses and I get very attached to them. I believe that when you create a great bond with your horse, they fight for you differently. I think that has been influential with my best mare Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick; we know each other inside out and that makes us so competitive.”

“I am a big believer in letting horses have their time in the field. Every day, I let them out with company and allow them to be a horse rather than being locked in all day. A happy horse will want to jump and try for you. My aim is to always try to work with horses and not against them.” Niamh continues. 

Kindness is key

“I think that to reach the top of our sport, you have to be kind to your horses,” Niamh continues. “The horses do so much for us, they put so much effort into it. When you look at the riders who are on the top at the moment, they are such natural horse people. The Swedes are a great example of this, they show great horsemanship and they are very natural in their approach. Someone that I have always looked up to is Laura Kraut. I love how she works with her horses; she is very natural and kind with them. She is a real horsewoman and her horses love her and try for her; I think that is so important – your horses have to like you. She was my main idol growing up and one of my absolute favourite riders.” 

Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick

While Niamh is very excited about all the horses she is currently riding, her top horse is Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick – a mare that has brought her from 1.40m classes to her first five-star Grand Prix as well to her first senior Nations Cup appearance. “She is my main horse for the bigger tracks. She is very competitive, fast against the clock and also very careful,” Niamh tells.

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen “She has been the most amazing horse to get me experience and into bigger classes. I am so grateful for her and to her owners – the Bingham-family – for trusting me with her,” Niamh says about Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen.

“Until Dublin I had only done two-star shows," Niamh tells. "In Ireland, the top two from the Coolmore Premier League get into Dublin and even though it was a huge step to go from two-star to five-star level, my mare gave her everything – she has such a big heart. Dublin was a complete dream come true. I did wonder if the Grand Prix maybe would be a little too much though... However, when we qualified, I wanted to give it a go – it is difficult to get these kind of opportunities, so when you get them, I think you have to grab them. She jumped around easy, and we finished tenth. I was absolutely delighted with her, she really proved herself and showed what a horse she is. I have always dreamt about competing at five-star level and to do so on home soil was really special.” 

“She has been the most amazing horse to get me experience and into bigger classes. I am so grateful for her and to her owners – the Bingham-family – for trusting me with her,” Niamh continues.

Moving up the ranks

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen "A happy horse will want to jump and try for you," Niamh says. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen.

In October, Niamh did her first senior Nations Cup with the Irish team under Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain. “I was third to go on the team, and it was a great experience,” she recalls. “I thought it was very different from jumping a Grand Prix on my own, because I really wanted to do well for everyone else, and not only for myself. My horse jumped amazing and I was so happy with her. We had the last fence down in the first round and we were clear in the second round. I loved it and hope to do it again! Jumping Nations Cups has always been one of my dreams. I think there is something really special about riding for your country, it is a feeling you don’t get when you are jumping the individual classes; everyone really comes together. There is pressure on you, but it is nice when you can do well for your country; there is great pleasure in wearing the green jacket.” 

Building up

“I’d love to continue to build up a nice team of horses to be competitive at international level,” Niamh says about her future plans. “There are many nice young horses coming through at Greg’s and we have some nice ones ourselves as well. With Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick, I would love to get into a few bigger shows. One of my owners, Maeve Kelly, has bought an 8-year-old gelding called MB Lorenzo R (Tolan R x Voltaire) for me to ride – which I am really excited about. Greg also has two really nice 8-year-olds, Olivia de Muze N (El Torreo de Muze x Lord Z) and Max O’Reilly Hyland’s Aconzina PS (Action-Breaker x Conthargos) – they are exciting for the future. I believe all of them will end up jumping the biggest tracks in the world and hopefully be very competitive top horses.” 

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen "I am only just getting into the bigger shows; there is so much to learn and I am so excited for the opportunities," Niamh says. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen.

Still a junior in 2022, competing on senior level was a huge jump for Niamh. “As a junior, everyone is more or less in the same boat, but when you go to senior level I find it more demanding and difficult,” she tells about her experiences. “I think the Nations Cups in ponies and juniors really gave me an insight into what it was going to be like and taught me to deal with pressure.”

“Everything is serious, and you need to be very precise,” Niamh continues about how it has been to step up to the higher level. “I believe it is important for riders to manage everything really well; there isn’t any room for lack of planning or rideability in today’s courses. I love competing, but there is so much work and training that has to go into it. Obviously, everyone wants to be successful, and whenever I have good results I am very appreciative of it. However, I am only just getting into the bigger shows; there is so much to learn and I am so excited for the opportunities.” 

While Niamh aims at climbing up the ranks, being based in Ireland adds to the challenge. “Abroad you have plenty of ranking classes to get points, while in Ireland – even though it is so competitive here – it is more of a national thing,” she points out. “I love being here though, even if it makes moving up the ranks challenging – it is difficult to get into any bigger shows if you are not high on the rankings. I love Ireland, and I think it is still possible to do well and be based here; there are plenty of good riders who have managed to do so, like Greg, Cian O’Connor, Mikey Pender and Clem McMahon…. We have great classes for producing horses and bringing them up – and to be honest, I am a bit of a home bird.”

 

10.1.2023 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of Showjumping.com. If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

 



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