Canada’s four-star producer – Selena O’Hanlon

SeminoleWellness2017_770x170

Aboard Colombo, Selena O’Hanlon was riding high in 2010 as a Canadian team silver medalist at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Four years later she is back to show the world some more Canadian grit, this time on Foxwood High. Owned by John and Judy Rumble, Foxwood High is an 11-year-old, Canadian Sport Horse gelding and Selena brought him up the upper levels herself. Producing four-star horses is something she is mastering as she piloted two around Rolex earlier this year. Selena and her second Rolex mount, Bellaney Rock, were named as alternates for the Canadian WEG team. He is a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding that she co-owns with Eventing Canada. In the past four years, Selena is the only member of the Canadian 2010 WEG team to have produced an additional four-star horse to her string and she has actually produced two.

Selena finished 12th individually at the 2010 WEG with a fast cross-country run and a flawless show jumping round. This year she will be competing a slightly less experienced horse. Producing him gives her a special comfort level. “I like having brought him through the levels because I know him and trust him. He was definitely my first choice over Bellaney Rock just because I have had so many years on him,” she said.

The Canadian team is not a medal favorite going to the WEG, and Selena knows that Canada is missing some of the country’s proven mounts. She said, “We don’t have the horses that we wanted for the team. Obviously, we would have liked Jessica Phoenix to be riding her campaigned horse Exponential, and Rebecca Howard as well on Riddle Master.”

However, this is eventing and favorites have fallen off in the past. Selena feels strongly that the team she is riding for is comprised of phenomenal cross-country and show jumping horses with experienced team riders piloting them.

Despite Foxwood High not having the most competitive dressage, Selena said, “I think his dressage is definitely going to be as good as Colombo’s which I didn’t realize until this past year. His movement has really started to show itself. He is not quite as established in the flat work as Colombo was in 2010. However, like Colombo, he is a real trier in dressage. He definitely put in his best performance at Rolex and has come a long way since then. It will definitely not be a dressage show. The cross-country will weigh in a lot, so I am pushing for his best performance and let’s see where it lands us on the international stage.”

WEG prep and lots of travel
Selena’s schedule has been crazy busy preparing these last few weeks leading to WEG. Her farm terrain is too flat so she needs to ship out to gallop on hills to get her horses fit enough for cross-country. Elaine Davies and Jennifer Tidman have kindly allowed her to use their place to do her gallop sets. She also packs up her horses to go take dressage lessons with Gina Smith, a previous member of Canada’s dressage team and chef d’Equippe. She has also participated in training camps with team coach, Clayton Fredericks. Although she has not been riding with him for long, she feels he has helped improve her dressage.

Bruce Davidson
A huge influence on Selena’s riding career has been Bruce Davidson. She has been riding with him since she was seven years old. “He is a huge part of my riding, I trust him implicitly. He has a vast amount of experience obviously and he is basically part of my family.” She went for a week of ‘boot-camp’ at Bruce’s before she competed at the CIC3* at Great Meadows, her final run before the WEG.

Great Meadows
“Great Meadows was a super run, the footing was the best footing I have ever ridden on. It is about 300 years old and it has been groomed and cut, you could’ve walked a baby out there barefoot. So the ability to gallop hard without having to worry about footing meant I could run at speed. The course was big enough. There were things you could push at, and then all the technical things you would want to practice. David was the one who designed it and he said in a press conference that the cross-country at WEG was going to be ginormous and it was going to take its toll making it a big part of the team score at the end. Luckily I would say that Foxwood High’s best phase is cross-country. I have grown to trust him. We have formed a great partnership and he proved himself over the bigger fences at Rolex. So I am excited for the cross-country.”

Medals means funding
Despite the fact she has been to WEG before and is a team silver medalist, she is pumped and feels the pressure of what a good result means to the Canadian Eventing Team program. “It’s exciting but there is a lot of pressure because we won silver before and we really need it again this time.” She is not sure if they will be on the podium but is striving for a strong team placing to secure funding for the team.

Canada was an underdog flying under the radar screen at the 2010 WEG. In an upset, the team favourites had failure after failure, allowing Canada’s solid performances to catapult the team onto the podium to the world’s surprise. Badminton 2013 has reminded us all that it’s not over until it’s over and the unexpected is a common theme in Eventing.

At Eventing Connect, we are Canadian. We have to admit that Canada is the team we are cheering for. Safe riding Selena and bring home something shiny!

Selena’s website

Scroll for more top stories on Eventing Connect