Whether you love feisty little chestnut mares from afar (safe; sensible) or you prefer to have them in your own string of horses (risky at best), you’ve probably long been hopelessly in love with the patron saint of the genre, Cathal Daniels‘s Rioghan Rua. Originally intended as a sales horse, the teeny-weeny 15.2hh powerhouse was sent to the then-teenaged rider to produce and move on by her breeders, Mags and Frank Kinsella.
But quickly, it became evident that the savvy rider and the ultra-sharp mare had a special understanding — an understanding that was compounded when she made the step up to become his Junior Europeans mount at just six years old. She would go on to compete at the Young Rider Europeans, too, all while tackling her own age championships at Le Lion d’Angers, and the pair stepped up to five-star at Pau in 2016, when Red was just nine and Cathal a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 20. Since then, they’ve been part of the silver medal-winning Irish team at the World Equestrian Games in 2018, took the individual bronze at the European Championships in 2019, headed to Tokyo, where they had to step into the reserve spot after a minor health concern, and completed four five-stars in fine style.
But this isn’t the Rioghan Rua Wikipedia page — it’s a chance to get you behind those famous orange ears. (This, arguably, is the safest place to be — signed, someone who has strayed too close to her hind end.) Check out this excellent helmet cam video, courtesy of Irish Eventing Times, from last month’s Pau CCI5*, where the dynamic duo finished 13th and best of the Irish. Do the jumps look a little bigger from the back of a glorified pony? Totally. Are you ever in doubt that this superstar will clear them? Not even a little bit.
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