Exploring the Equestrian Journey of Shane Breen

Dublin Horse show 2023 - Shane Breen e Z7 Ipswich

Shane Breen, the celebrated Irish show jumper, takes us on a captivating journey through his remarkable career in the world of equestrian sports. In this in-depth interview, Shane shares his insights, experiences, and reflections on the horses that have played a pivotal role in his journey, the memorable victories that have left a lasting impact, and his vision for the future of show jumping.

The Horses That Shaped His Path

Shane Breen begins by reminiscing about a horse that left an indelible mark on his career, World Cruise. He describes World Cruise when he first crossed paths with him as, “very inexperienced, relatively young. He was seven, but very inexperienced. He was quite a character. He was very spooky.” Despite the challenges, this horse had a profound impact on Shane, teaching him valuable lessons about respect for both the horse and the individual. Their partnership resulted in impressive victories, including the Aga Khan cup in Dublin, showcasing their exceptional teamwork. Shane fondly remembers his time with World Cruise, saying, “He was a horse that I will never forget.”

Golden Hawk: A Valuable Asset

Another star in Shane’s journey is Golden Hawk. This remarkable horse consistently delivered top-three placings in major Grand Prix events and was a key asset for the Irish team. Shane reflects on their partnership, “He was a big team player on the Irish team.” Golden Hawk’s contributions exemplified the synergy between rider and horse that’s essential in show jumping. Shane recalls their victories with pride, “Many times, top three placings in major Grand Prix.”

Ipswich: The Crown Jewel

Among Shane’s equine partners, Ipswich stands out as the crown jewel. With numerous five-star Grand Prix victories and representation in world championships, Ipswich’s versatility and exceptional performance record have solidified his place in Shane’s heart. Shane acknowledges, “Ipswich has given me the most accolades. He’s given me the most five-star major Grand Prix wins.” Ipswich’s incredible achievements highlight the level of dedication and trust that exists between horse and rider.

Impactful Victories

Shane reflects on the pivotal victories in his career. One that shines brightly is his Grand Prix win at the Dublin Horse Show. Dublin held a special place in Shane’s heart since childhood, and winning the Grand Prix there fulfilled a lifelong dream. “From being a childhood dream to do it, it was just really, really nice to win it,” Shane shares. This victory was a testament to his dedication and unwavering commitment to the sport. Shane also cherishes his victory in the Hickstead Derby, stating, “To win that with Can Ya Makan was a great day.” Hickstead is Shane B reen’s home base so winning the Hickstead Derby in his “backyard” was a very special moment for shane. . 

Family’s Equestrian Influence

Shane’s family has played a vital role in his equestrian journey. His uncle and parents were passionate about show jumping, creating a nurturing environment for Shane and his siblings to explore riding. Shane warmly acknowledges their support, stating, “They provided the foundation for us, bringing us to pony shows and even trips abroad.” 

This familial encouragement helped pave the way for Shane’s success.  Even if Shane’s younger brother, Trevor, also ventured into show jumping, took a different road to reach the top level of the sport he has been achieving remarkable success, including a team silver medal at the European Championships in Milan this summer, demonstrating the family’s enduring commitment to the sport.

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Dublin Horse show 2023 – Shane Breen with Z7 Ipswich

Exploring Different Disciplines

Shane, has traversed a remarkably diverse equestrian journey, delving into various disciplines before ultimately embracing the world of show jumping. In a candid conversation, Shane sheds light on the intriguing story behind his encounters with these different facets of horse riding and his eventual commitment to show jumping.

Reflecting on his foray into other disciplines, Shane shares, “So a very good friend of mine, Mr. Ryan, introduced me to some equestrian adventures. I had my own horses, and they seemed more like Eventers than show jumpers at the time. I tried two low-key eventer tournaments, and surprisingly, they went quite well.”

It’s a compelling twist in Shane’s narrative, considering his upbringing in a hunting background where cross-country riding held a prominent place. He fondly recalls, “You’d imagine that the thrill of cross-country riding would have captivated me, given my background. I still have a deep love for traversing challenging terrains on horseback.”

However, life’s journey often unfolds in unexpected ways. Shane’s path led him to a pivotal decision—choosing to fully commit to show jumping. He elaborates, “I had the opportunity to work with Tommy Wade, father of  Alan Wade. They have race horses so I also went into that discipline so I used to train the race horses in the mornings for a while and that I enjoyed it was a transformative experience.”

Despite his love for race horses, Shane’s passion for show jumping grew stronger. He explains, “At a certain point, I had to make a choice between racing and show jumping. I chose show jumping, and looking back, I’m content with that decision. It defined my career and brought international recognition.”

Diverse Training and Influences

Throughout his career, Shane has been exposed to a diverse array of training techniques and philosophies. He fondly recalls his time at Nelson Pessoa‘s stables, where he gained invaluable insights from the legendary trainer. “I learned a lot from Nelson and from Rodrigo,” Shane remarks. He also credits influential trainers like Tommy Wade and Michael Clark for shaping his approach to training. Shane emphasizes the importance of flexibility in adapting training methods to suit each horse’s unique characteristics. He shares, “You have to assess your horse as an individual and see what training technique works best.”

Shaping the Future of Show Jumping

Shane envisions a bright future for show jumping. He believes that expanding televised coverage of competitions could introduce show jumping to a broader audience, thereby enhancing its popularity. Shane sees himself playing a pivotal role in nurturing young talents, particularly those based in the UK, given his residence at Hickstead. He aspires to provide guidance and support to emerging riders, helping them set and achieve their goals, and ultimately preparing them for international success. Shane’s commitment to the sport’s growth and his dedication to mentoring the next generation highlight his passion for equestrian excellence.

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Dublin Horse Show 2023 – Shane Breen with Haya

A Personal Vision for the Future

As we wrap up our journey through Shane Breen’s illustrious career, we get a glimpse of his personal vision for the future of show jumping. Beyond the victories and accolades, Shane’s commitment to the sport goes deeper. He envisions a future where show jumping thrives, capturing the hearts of an even broader audience.

Shane believes that increasing televised coverage of competitions can introduce the captivating world of show jumping to more people, further igniting their passion for the sport. He understands the power of this exposure, as he himself was inspired by equestrian events from a young age.

However, Shane’s vision doesn’t stop at the arena’s edge. With his residence at Hickstead, he has a special focus on nurturing young talents, particularly in the UK. He sees himself as a mentor, guiding emerging riders on their journey to excellence. He aims to help them set and achieve their goals, just as he once did. Shane’s dedication to developing the next generation of riders is a testament to his passion for the sport’s enduring growth.

In closing, Shane Breen’s journey is more than a collection of victories; it’s a narrative of passion, perseverance, and partnership. His vision for the future ensures that the legacy of show jumping remains vibrant and inspiring for generations to come. As Shane continues to chase his dreams in the arena, he also lights the path for others to follow, reminding us that in the world of show jumping, the pursuit of excellence knows no bounds.

Valentina Sozzi Senn | Photo (c) Mari Hongisto

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