Four years ago, Uma O’Neill (USA) received a sales horse video from German horse dealer Paul Schockemohle.
The clip featured a seven-year-old grey stallion, named Clockwise of Greenhill Z, that was showing consistently in the 1.30m division with Belgium’s Philip Gysbretchs. O’Neill bought the horse off Schockermohle’s recommendation alone and “CW,” as he’s known in the barn, was imported in 2014 during the August Summer Fort series at Langley, BC’s Thunderbird Showpark as a grand prix prospect for the American.
Only their story didn’t start off quite the way she’d hoped.
“I actually didn’t try him. We sent him over [from Europe] off a couple of videos and it was a little bit of a rough start,” confessed the 23-year-old rider.
“It took a little bit for the two of us to click. He’d always been ridden by a man.”
The “clear rounds and good results” didn’t come until she tried the Zangersheide stallion in a hackamore. CW responded so well, they decided to try it at a show—and, from there, the partnership fell into place.
“It was a big turning point for us,” said O’Neill.
“I was feeling very uncomfortable [showing him] in the 1.30m in a bit. When I jumped my first show in the hackamore, two weeks later we were going clear in the 1.45m. He’s never showed in anything else since.”
On Sunday, that relationship came full circle at Thunderbird. O’Neill and her now 11-year-old mount logged the biggest win of their career, capturing the $145,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, presented by Facet Advisors, at the BC venue.
Second of 30 starters in the order, they were the first pair to post a clear round over the 1.60m Alan Wade-designed course.
Some 28 more riders would contest the winding track. None but O’Neill and CW were able to master it.
“There was a lot of little tests out there,” said Wade. “It was solved very early on, second horse in, so we knew it was solvable. There was a lot of riders with four faults I believe felt if they had a second chance they would have gone clear. But that’s one of the great things about show jumping, you get one chance and you have to take it. We get a lot of excitement and anxiety from people knocking poles late on. It doesn’t all have to be about speed. It is showjumping, after all.”
For an overjoyed O’Neill, it was a sigh of relief when the final rider, Eduardo Menezes (BRA) and Quintol, caught a rail on course, sealing her victory.
“I’m ecstatic!” said O’Neill. “I just went out and gave it everything I could today and asked a little bit extra of myself and my horse and it really paid off.”
O’Neill now sits atop the west coast sub league rankings. She plans to contest the World Cup qualifiers in Thermal, Vegas and, possibly, Sacramento.
“I’m not 100% sure if I want to jump the World Cup on him in the small indoor [at Sacramento]. But we’ll see how he feels at the beginning of the week,” she said.
Ireland’s Conor Swail took second with Rubens La Silla on four faults in 74.26 seconds. Mexico’s Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle finished third on four faults in 75.87 seconds.
The next leg of the North American League will take place on September 30, 2018 with the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York.