Ireland’s Cian O’Connor has resigned from his post as FEI Athlete Representative on the FEI Jumping Committee, on which he had been elected to serve from 2018-2022. He started last September following Rodrigo Pessoa’s term and acted also on the FEI Athletes Committee. But differences between personality and politics led O’Connor to believe he wasn’t suited for the role.
“Maybe my temperament is not best in committee situations,” said O’Connor. “I suppose the pace wasn’t moving fast enough for me—the pace of change.
“The sport is evolving at a huge pace,” he continued. “With the Global Champions Tour, it’s revolutionized the sport globally. Huge increase in participation, increase in prices of horses—the sport is thriving. But I would have strong views still about perfecting the Nations Cup and making the Nations Cup a brilliant product. I often hear about this circuit versus that circuit. But that’s not really the point. There’s enough room for everything, and we should promote everything and make sure there’s plenty of money, high standards of competition and top venues.”
O’Connor doesn’t believe the Global Champions Tour and Nations Cup format need to be mutually exclusive. He’d prefer to improve all the circuits.
“I believe in equal for all, and they should be inclusive,” said O’Connor. “And people who have an agenda are kind of angry about the Nations Cup, or you have some people angry at the Global. No—I think make all the circuits good, and you offer something for everybody from diverse society worldwide—the guy who breeds one horse has a chance, and the person who wants to buy a team has a chance. So you’re catering to all needs.”
Though passionate about these issues, O’Connor felt committee work wasn’t the right fit for him.
“In my world, in my business, I can buy a horse on the phone, or I can sell a horse, or I could go to a competition—I live in the real world where I make thousands of decisions a day,” he said. “And if I’m right or wrong, I live or die by them. When you walk on a committee, it’s a bit more political, and it’s a bit less fast mostly and doesn’t suit me maybe. I’m not knocking it; I’m just saying it doesn’t work for me.”
The FEI is currently looking for a new representative. A new candidate must have competed in one of the last two Olympic Games or World Equestrian Games to be eligible.