Andrew McConnon is busy packing his life up in order to move across the world for the opportunity of a lifetime: a position with William Fox-Pitt.
It’s an opportunity Andrew is still pinching himself over. Andrew campaigned Ziggy, the 19-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Rachel Jurgens, through the CIC3* level in 2015, but the decision was made to take a step back with the gelding as he got older. After that, Andrew began thinking about his next steps.
“I always wanted to continue on, so I got to thinking about what was next,” Andrew said. “I have a younger horse who is going Novice, so it would be awhile before I got back to where I was with Ziggy. So I thought, what would the best thing to do be?”
Ultimately, Andrew decided that finding a place where he could ride and continue his education would make the most sense, an idea that his coach, Bobby Costello, agreed with wholeheartedly: “Bobby told me that it would be a great move, and that I could never do anything better than that.”
So Andrew began looking for opportunities in Europe. “I originally approached (Tim and Jonelle Price), but unfortunately they had all of the people they needed. I kind of asked around on where the best place would be to go, and I ended up talking with Karen O’Connor about it.
“Karen has always been super encouraging and supportive, and she was unbelievably helpful. After I told her my goals, she said she was going to call William.”
The rest is history, as Karen called back moments later and informed Andrew that William Fox-Pitt was awaiting his call. Andrew and William spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes, and the position was offered.
“Karen said that if I was going to Europe, I had to go learn from the best,” Andrew said. “It was pretty remarkable — she set everything up. William and I spoke about what we were both looking for, and he was just very down to earth and I felt like it was a good match. I can’t turn that down!”
Andrew immediately set to work tying up loose ends in preparation for his departure. He needed to obtain a visa, ensure his sales horses were moved and that his young horse and dog had arrangements to be cared for in his absence. Andrew committed to stay through October at William’s yard in Dorset, England.
“In Southern Pines I have really good clients and friends,” he said. “So I was able to have a friend care for and ride my young horse and everyone has been so great in helping me.”
As for his position with Fox-Pitt Eventing, Andrew will be helping out with riding and exercising horses, all under William’s tutelage.
“It sounds like the community there is very close-knit, family-like,” he said. “I think it will be a good fit for me. There don’t seem to be a lot of ‘rankings,’ and no one feels they are higher up than the others. I think we’ll all have our own roles working towards the main goal. Karen thought my style and personality would suit that program well, so it really seems like it will be a good match.”
We’re thrilled for Andrew as he embarks on his new journey next week, and are equally excited to announce that he has agreed to write some guest blogs for EN during his stay. Happy trails, Andrew!