Thursday, May. 23, 2024

A Tribute To Theodore O’Connor

Click here to view our photo gallery with even more images and memories of "Teddy."

Theodore O'Connor: 1995-2008
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Click here to view our photo gallery with even more images and memories of “Teddy.”

Theodore O’Connor: 1995-2008

One of eventing’s most loved and admired equines, Theodore O’Connor, was euthanized after suffering a fatal accident at his home, Stonehall Farm in The Plains, Va., May 28. He was 13.

Owned by the Theodore O’Connor Syndicate and bred by P. Wynn Norman, the 14.1-hand pony surpassed expectations during his career. Karen O’Connor’s outstanding performances in 2007 included team and individual gold medals at the Pan American Games (Brazil), and third at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
   
“For me, personally, I had a relationship with him that I’ve never really had with another horse,” O’Connor said. “His trust for me went beyond what I thought was possible. He would do anything for me because I said it was OK. He trusted me, and I trusted him.”

Under O’Connor’s guidance, “Teddy” also captured the 2007 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year title, was named the USEA Horse of the Year, USEA Pony of the Year, and the Chronicle’s Overall and Eventing Horse of the Year.

Capturing the underdog spirit ofcompetition, Teddy’s personality outweighed his accolades. “I’m glad that he was able to inspire so many dreams, and I hope that his legacy will lead to more ponies just like him out there,” said Norman.
   
His top six finishes at the 2007 and 2008 Rolex Kentucky events cemented Teddy’s status as one of the strongest contenders for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong. O’Connor and Teddy had been named to the U.S. eventing team short list just prior to his death.
   
O’Connor said, “He was much the people’s pony. If there was one chance we could’ve saved him, we would. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.”

“Theodore O’Connor represented something magical for my two Pony Club daughters. Please know that somewhere in California, two sobbing little girls cleaned their stalls today and sent wishes to the angels that Teddy was in the arms of the cross-country angels in Heaven.”

Katie Margason-Moore
Santa Rosa, Calif.

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Amy K. Dragoo Photo

 “Teddy was a comet in the eventing world at a time when joy was needed. He flared; he bathed us in his comet’s tail. He exemplified all the joy of great athletes doing what they are bred and trained to do. He was life itself. For me, this year’s Olympics was going to be the opportunity to share our Comet Pony with the rest of the eventing world.”

Jane Heidelberg
Clarksdale, Miss.

“My husband, who can’t tell my horse from the others (but will go out and feed carrots to whichever one he thinks is right when I’m on business trips), even knows who Teddy was and liked to ask about him. He not only brought the eventing community together but also others into the community.”

Kate Roth
Longmont, Colo.
 


“I’m glad we went to Rolex this year. Imagine, a 46-year-old woman running from field to field to watch her hero, Teddy! He was truly amazing! His enormous heart was apparent on his face when he sailed over jumps. I feel like we have lost one of our own. If Barbaro was America’s Horse, certainly Teddy is America’s Pony.”

Patti Williams
Conyers, Ga.

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Charles Mann Photo

“I was looking forward to following his path to the Olympics. I always like rooting for the underdog, probably because I’m usually riding the underdog. I think Teddy was a pony we could all identify with, and he allowed us to believe in Olympic-size aspirations with our own backyard ‘ponies.’ ”

Kristina Brooks
Tucson, Ariz.

“I’m a dressage rider, but I’ve avidly followed the career of this incredible, gallant pony. My heart goes out to everyone associated with him and to the entire eventing community for such a huge loss to the sport. It seems so unfair to have such a shining light extinguished at such a dark time.”

Laurea Griggs
Newnan, Ga.

“Watching that amazing pony fly around those huge courses took me back to that time when I was just a little girl on my first pony (a chestnut even), and I truly believed that that pony was going to take me to the Olympics. Watching Teddy was like watching my little girl dreams come true.”

Melissa Webb
College Grove, Tenn.

Charles Mann Photo


Amy K. Dragoo Photo

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