Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Walk On The Moon Does It All

David O’Connor and Joe Zada purchased Walk On The Moon in 2002, with the thought of a trip to Hong Kong in 2008 well within the realm of possibility. “Danny” made the trip, just not in the capacity anyone would have guessed six years ago.

“He was bred to jump,” said O’Connor. “He’s a very good jumper and good mover, but he doesn’t have a true gallop, which stops him from being an upper-level horse, so he just does everything else.”

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David O’Connor and Joe Zada purchased Walk On The Moon in 2002, with the thought of a trip to Hong Kong in 2008 well within the realm of possibility. “Danny” made the trip, just not in the capacity anyone would have guessed six years ago.

“He was bred to jump,” said O’Connor. “He’s a very good jumper and good mover, but he doesn’t have a true gallop, which stops him from being an upper-level horse, so he just does everything else.”

“Everything” would be an understatement. The 11-year-old Irish import, one of the few Thoroughbreds competing at the 2008 Paralympic Games, won the 2007 American Eventing Championships at the preliminary level with O’Connor’s student Lauren Kieffer, he was third at the Canadian Indoor Eventing Championships at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, won a training level three-day with O’Connor groom Max Corcoran, has competed up to level 7 in the jumpers, teaches working students and is used in all kinds of demonstrations.
In 2008 he turned his attention to para-equestrian.

He handled it like a pro—the trip, the atmosphere, the entire experience. Danny was completely unfazed by the environment, something O’Connor knew he could count on.

“This was his first international para competition,” said Newerla. “He’s done an admirable job. To deal with the stands, the heat, the atmosphere the way he did shows what kind of horse he is. He showed his heart with how much he tried. You can’t be upset with a score when a horse does the best he can.”

When Joe Zada (who owned eventing great, Lightfoot) decided to change his focus to dressage, he gave Danny to O’Connor. He is one of the most popular residents of the O’Connor’s program, and there wouldn’t be a more genuine horse.

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“I do demonstrations on him,” said O’Connor. “I can jump him bridleless. He’s a very, very good demonstration horse for anything. You can do anything with him; for me he’s priceless.”

The decision to enroll Danny into the para-equestrian program was an easy one for O’Connor.

“Mainly, I knew he would be good at it,” he said. “Missy [Ransehousen] had talked to me about one of my other horses years ago. Since I was going to be gone all summer and the farm was going to be quiet I thought it was good timing. He’s a good mover, and he has the perfect temperament for it. He has a Golden Retriever attitude, so we were like why not?”

Danny returned to the O’Connors in The Plains, Va., on Sept. 22 in good order. He will turn back to jumping this fall: he’s heading to the Washington (D.C.) International for a celebrity jumping class and then back to the Royal Winter Fair to do the indoor eventing.

“I will get him to Florida and try to do enough shows in a row to get him up to the 1.40m classes,” said O’Connor. “He will do that, and then we will see if they need him for 2010.”

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