It’s about time for Sinead fans

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Sinead Halpin almost took the ditch when she read the news. Finally, her and Manoir de Carneville (Tate) would be riding for the USA at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG). After receiving an email earlier in the day that riders would be informed of the selections around 6:00 pm, Sinead was anxious on her drive home from the barn.

Then she received a text message from Hannah Sue Burnett that read, ‘I got the email,’ Sinead checked her phone. To her delight, she was one of the riders chosen and at that point, she almost went off-roading. Sinead’s anxiety waiting for the official selection news was understandable. In 2012, she was named as an alternate for the Olympics despite having a nearly flawless record. At that time, she told herself, ‘I will not be a victim!’ and now two years later she is making final preparations with Tate to dominate at the WEG.

Alternate advice

This year, the US had a strong group of riders. To many people’s surprise, Lauren Kieffer and Marilynn Little were only named as alternates after successful runs at Rolex. Sinead agreed that she was also surprised by the WEG selections. After her disappointment in 2012, she remembers the best advice she received, “Phillip Dutton said to me, do not let this define you. Eventers tend to be well equipped for heartbreak. Without the right mentality, it is hard to get far in this sport.”

In 2012, she put the Olympics behind h­er and a few weeks later placed 2nd at Burghley. She has no doubts that Lauren and Marilynn are going to go out and have amazing seasons this fall.

Getting Tate in the mood

Tate’s personal best score at a four star was 36.3 at Burghley in 2012. This year he scored a 51.7 at Rolex. Sinead explained that you cannot reprimand him and although he has a huge heart, his work ethic is not as strong. “He is a very emotional horse, which is good and bad. But more often he tends to be awesome,” she said. His emotions explain the large fluctuations in his dressage scores. If there is a lot of atmosphere or Sinead gets too meticulous while working on something, he tends to shut down.

“Tell him he is the best thing in the world and he is great, but in dressage that is sometimes a bit hard,” she said. In the last few years, Sinead has been experimenting with things to get him more consistent. She has been playing around with different bits because he does not like metal bits. He is now in a ‘baby bit’ that he really loves. Canadian, dressage Olympian, Jacqueline Brooks has been helping her this season. “We always discussed me training with her, but the timing was never quite right in the past,” Sinead said. “This season we have been working together and really confirmed a relationship and a vocabulary.”

All of the experimentation with Tate’s dressage has lead to him being the most consistent he has been in his life. Everyday he is the same horse. With Tate’s emotions in balance she is feeling good and optimistic heading to the WEG that they can lay down another highly competitive dressage test.

Extreme makeover: Show jumping edition

Show jumping was their weak link at Burghley in 2012. However, at Rolex this year, they put in a textbook clean round. Sinead credits their show jumping turnaround to Amanda Flint’s help. Amanda is local to Sinead and has been helping her with numerous horses. She described Amanda as an excellent horsewoman that uses words sparingly which suits Sinead’s less is more style. Amanda went to the Fork and Rolex with Sinead this year. She explained, “Amanda has made such a difference in Tate’s jumping that if she told me to go jump my horse off a bridge I would be like okay and wouldn’t even think twice about it.”

Can you medal?

A clear team player, Sinead replied, “I have never been someone that has thought about things that way. Going forward, this is a team competition and if we all go to do the best that we can for the team then we will all flourish individually. My goal is to go in and put down the best test that we can do, jump clean and have a fast cross-country. He is very capable of a clean show jumping round, especially because we will be on footing. He doesn’t jump very well on grass”

Sinead and Tate have all the ingredients to medal at WEG. If the mix comes together over three days at the end of this month, it will be no surprise to see her trademark smile beaming from the podium.

Sinead’s website

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