5-minute minds: Quick reads on people's perspectives with Susan Fitzpatrick - International Showjumper
Susan Fitzpatrick is a Kilkenny based showjumper who competes at home and on the international circuit up to 160 5* level. The home yard is at - Keatingstown House Stud just outside of Kilkenny city.
1). In a few words describe yourself and what you do:
I am a 23 year old Irish International Show Jumper. I have competed in 3* nations cups and at 5* Grand Prix level. My career encompasses riding competitively while also producing young horses for the purpose of re sale to assist in financing and growing our business. Each year, I try to keep two or three Grand Prix horses under me so that I can stay competitive at a higher level and be available if any bigger opportunities arise.
2). Briefly - How did you get started in equestrian life?
My mother showjumped and my father loved everything racing. So naturally I was put on ponies from a very young age and caught the bug.
3). What has been the most rewarding equine moment of your career so far?
Initially, I would have said winning the Individual Gold Medal at the pony Europeans in Arezzo was a huge achievement but my transition into horses culminated into my most rewarding moment of my career - producing Fellow Castlefield from 4years old to 9years old and the highlight being placed 4th in the 5* Grand Prix in Dublin and watching him go on to compete at the top level.
4). Proudest non equine achievement?
Winning underage medals in sports including swimming, hockey and soccer.
5). In your opinion what is the biggest challenge being a female in the Equine industry and how did you/how can this be overcome?
I believe our sport is fundamentally set on a level playing field between both male and female.
That’s what makes the equine industry so special and it sets us apart from most other sports.
In the past few years, Irish team manager Michael Blake has given many young girls including myself, Jessica Burke, Jenny Rankin and Niamh Mcevoy the opportunity to ride on nations cup teams and get into 5* shows.
The Rolex Young Riders Academy has also facilitated female riders in accessing 5* shows and providing top class training.
The FEI have amended the ranking points system for women on maternity leave which is also another step forward.
6). How do you balance your passion for equestrian life and other responsibilities?
I am lucky that showjumping is my career and my main focus. Of course, for most of us it is not just the riding but also the business side of things that have to be maintained. Relationships with owners, potential sales, day to day organisation with staff and management of the horses are all aspects that have to be kept on top of. Once the above is done well, I think it is important to find a week or a few days to yourself to wind down.
7). How do you maintain a positive relationship with your horses in and out of the competition field?
I am fortunate to be based between Ballypatrick and our own yard in Keatingstown. So, both myself and my horses are in a brilliant system under top class tutelage from Greg Broderick. The facilities here are fantastic for the horses. They can get out in the paddocks, they can go for hacks and can get fit on the gallop track. I find variation of work alongside TLC is key for the horses.
8). How do you stay motivated and focused during training and competitions?
Personally, I find motivation can lag around winter/Christmas time. During this period I make a plan for the year ahead and begin to work towards having my horses in the best possible way both mentally and physically for the upcoming season.
Visualising success and what you want to achieve in the coming months or year ahead really encourages you to stay focused and driven. Repetitive correct practice helps achieve better results which gives me the confidence and motivation to keep improving.
9). Any advice to young or not so young female equestrians looking to get into the competition world?
I would advise any young female looking to make a career in the competition world to really believe in themselves. On the days where it seems like it’s not working out, you really need to back yourself 100%.
I would also advise them to always try and put the horse first. I think it is an unbelievable privilege to work with these incredible animals everyday and they teach us all so many things about communication including kindness, patience and respect.
10). If you could change one thing in the Equine industry what would it be?
An important issue that has been highlighted numerous of times in the past few months is the grooming crisis in the Equine industry. More needs to be done to encourage people to stay working with horses and all grooms need to be provided with the best possible working environment both at home and at shows.
Susan is sponsored by Gain horse feeds, Plusvital, Boomerang, Samshield and Quinn’s equine; they provide Susan and her horses with everything they need to be in tip top condition.
Susan and Quite Chacco jumping in Villamoura:
You can follow Susan and her horses on either of the below Instagram links: