Name: Oisín Dillon
Parents: Geraldine Gallagher and Pat Dillon
From: Corrandulla, Co Galway
Tell us about your family history in equestrianism?
My mum was involved in showing young horses, ridden classes and working hunter ponies. She didn’t grow up with competing horses but always had a love of them.
Dad came from a home full of horses. As a family growing up, they hired hunters to the Galway and Clare hunts often have two lorries on the road every hunting day. Dad competed in show jumping, point-to-points, cross-country. Two of my uncles, Gerry and Francis, competed on Irish pony teams. Uncle Gerry is a farrier and I rode ponies for him. My aunt Geraldine worked with horses for a long time and now takes equestrian photographs at shows.
Did you always want to ride professionally?
Yes, it was something I always wanted to do.
Do you think there was enough in Ireland to help you build your early career in terms of training and events?
Yes, there were always lots of shows with different competitions. This gave me a chance to do ponies, children on horses, juniors, young riders and into seniors. Training shows and coaching chances are there for everyone. Local and regional leagues in Connaught give a good platform for competing and learning.
Tell us about your top ponies/horses.
I’ve had many nice horses and ponies to compete with but my favourite pony would have to be Charlie (Ballygawley Blitz), a 12.2hh that we had. Other horses include Rhonda, Ballybeg Loui, SMC Molly and Pablo Van Het Geinsteinde (Pablo).
Where are you working now and how did you get this position?
I’m currently working for Michael Drea and his daughter Jessie in West Sussex, England. I got the job through Paul, Kathryn and Michael Duffy. I went to Hickstead competing in September and had been in contact with Michael Drea before going and he offered me the job, so I said yes and stayed.
How are you settling into the new role?
I’m settling in quite well over here and have made lots of new friends. Jessie and Michael are very good to me and have given me lots of opportunity to ride some very nice young horses at the shows over here.
Did you bring any of your own horses?
Yes, I brought over Ballybeg Loui with me to Hickstead to compete and kept him here.
Who was your trainer while in Ireland?
Paul Duffy was my trainer for the last three years. Paul gave me lots of guidance and opportunities and a huge thanks to him and Kathryn for the chance to compete at all levels while training and learning all I could to improve at every step.
Who has been your greatest influence so far in your career?
Definitely my parents. Also my extended family and friends and most recently Kathryn and Paul Duffy who have also been big influences so far in my career.
Who is the rider you most look up to?
I cannot pick any one rider that I would most look up to but the best thing about being Irish is the influence of our own international riders. Top riders I would consider right up there are Michael Duffy, Cian O’Connor and Shane Breen along with a host of others.
What are your plans for this season?
My plan for the rest of the season is to continue to produce the young horses here and then hopefully be able to bring them away to shows gather up some valuable learning.
What are your long-term goals?
My long-term goals are to compete at the top of show jumping and to compete at international shows. Hopefully then in the future, I will be able to start up my own business producing really nice horses in my own yard.
Oisin Duffy was in conversation with Emer Bermingham