Neil O’Connor (USA) is a USEF and FEI 3* Judge and Steward and officiates regularly at national and international shows. He has served as President or Member of the Ground Jury at many prestigious U.S. shows such as the Hampton Classic, Pennsylvania National, Winter Equestrian Festival, Washington International, National Horse Show, and the inaugural 2014 Central Park Horse Show. Internationally, O’Connor has officiated at Spruce Meadows and the Royal Winter Fair, both in Canada. A native of (West End) Millstreet, County Cork Ireland, O’Connor now resides in the U.S., and ironically he was the Foreign Judge at the 2014 Dublin Horse Show. – from the Chronicle of the Horse.
—— “Born in West End, Millstreet in County Cork, Mr. O’Connor, 33, has been involved with horses all his life, riding them and grooming them, simply because, he said, ”horses were the biggest thing happening in my town.” Mill Pearl, a horse that helped the American equestrian team win a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics, is a product of the Millstreet industry. (He worked at Noel C. Duggan’s Green Glens Equestrian Center).
In 1988, Mr. O’Connor came to the United States, and, in Florida, while working for Joe Fargis, the rider-trainer of Mill Pearl, met and later married Mary Lavinio, a Southampton native and seasoned rider and teacher who has been involved with the Hampton Classic since her teen-age days. The couple live in Southampton with their daughters, Cornelia, 4, who will compete in the show for the third year in the lead-line event, in which very young riders are led by adults, and Anna, 6 months, who has yet to master the saddle, Mrs. O’Connor said.
Essentially, Mr. O’Connor said, his career makes for a wandering life. Earlier this month he was in Atlanta, working on the jump crew at the Olympics. After the Classic he may work the circuit of major horse shows, spending a few months each in Palm Beach, Fla., and Indio, Calif., at the shows held there.
”It’s not the glamorous life that you think of when you think of horse shows,” Mr. O’Connor said. ”But once you’re in it you can’t get out of it, get rid of the need to work with horses.”
Although they continue to emphasize the glamour, the organizers of the Hampton Classic, which in its 21st edition is budgeted at $2.5 million, have another agenda as well.
”We want to create the broadest possible platform or footprint,” said Anthony F. Hitchcock, the executive director with Jean Lindgren. ”Show that it’s not just for rich people, but is also meant to be enjoyed by an enormously diverse audience, giving easy access and exposure to our sport while providing fun for whole families.”… ( read the full article)
The above extract is from an article on Neil when he was head of the ground crew of the Hampton Classic Horse Show in 1998.
Neil was in Millstreet this summer when he was the foreign judge at the Dublin Horse Show, and also Judged at the Millstreet Horse Show where he presented the top prize to Thomas Ryan [photos]