The Road to Dublin with Linda Murphy of Shirsheen Sport Horses

As we continue our grassroots series The Road to Dublin. We have Sarah Elebert, Co-Founder of Equitas interviewing Linda Murphy about her journey to the Dublin Horse Show kicking off this week.

To set the scene: Linda Murphy Shirsheen Sport Horses, studied business & equine in AIT/ Gurteen Ag College and honours degree in business AIT, professional producer of showjumping/ event horses who also dabbles in working hunter and all else in between sourcing & selling both horses & ponies.  

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Linda Murphy and alongside my family, we run Shirsheen Sport Horses situated on the border of Wicklow and Wexford. I grew up surrounded by horses and we have a small family run riding school where my mother Mary does the coaching. 

I produce and sell young horses, mainly as 4/5yr olds, to either event or show jump. Having bought them as 3yr olds or bred them it’s very exciting to see them develop up the levels having sold them on. I also work for Susan Fitzpatrick of Castle Howard where we have had many super horses pass through the yard. 

Gortfree Lakeside Lad 

How did you prepare for the Rds and what does the qualifying process look like?

The Rds preparations actually begin for us when the horses are 3yrs old – especially for those we hope to compete as 4yr olds whether it be Eventing or Showjumping. This year for example, I have a 4yr old Shirsheen Rocketman who was purchased towards the end of last year. Having already broken and riding which was a super benefit, he started this year competing in the HSI combined training league, going on to win the final in CoilÓg! He then went on to place in the final of the Stepping Stones league in Wexford Equestrian. The aim is always to educate and give our young horses positive experiences without overfacing them. Following his busy start, he had a holiday and came back into work two weeks prior to the RDS qualifiers. He has a super brain which leaves my job easy in some ways, but again you can never know with a 4YR old. He qualified on his second attempt in Tullylish, earning himself another holiday. We like to give them as much time as possible to chill and just be horses. 

The Qualifying process for the Young Event Class in RDS involves all three phases – a dressage test, followed by your showjumping and incorporates the cross country. Upon finishing your round, you proceed to a trot up where horses are stripped and accessed for their confirmation and type. All marks added up and highest scores qualify. 

Castle Howard MRF Tiffin 

Biggest challenge with preparation?

Some of the biggest challenges with regards to preparation, is finding the balance between making sure you have enough done without overdoing it. I find looking back on courses from previous years beneficial in trying to ascertain what questions the course designers might ask of us. In doing so, we try to make sure our homework is efficient. Some nice confident cross country prep is key, alongside a school over some flashy jump tracks and all the while not forgetting the flat phase. Be it ring 2 or the main arena, it’s very hard to replicate the buzz of the RDS, so we also aim to get to some of the bigger agricultural shows. 

Is there a difference preparing for an event like this?

We try to think of all shows being the same. Since having jumped ponies in the RDS when we were younger, we have tried to treat it the very same as going to your local show. We do this for the horses as the only real difference is the crowd and the atmosphere they bring. A big thing for us is to aim to keep the horse’s routines as if they were at home. Obviously with some restrictions such as turn-out, we add in extra hand walking to keep them from getting bored. Some of the younger ones may fret a little if they haven’t stayed away from home much so making sure that they are eating, drinking and are happy in themselves is our main priority. 

At the end of the day, we have to have faith in our preparations and believe that we have all the work done and so we just try to enjoy it. Whatever happens happens at this point. All we can do is our best. 

Greannanstown Max A Million 

How do you prepare mentally to compete?

I would be fairly laid back naturally so once the horse has all the correct tack and I know they are feeling good, I’m happy. As I said earlier, I just try to ride the same as I do every other day. Yes, it may be a very big occasion but it’s just another show.

Goals from this event?

All we hope is that our horses compete to the best of their ability. It would be great if we got placed, but so long as we enjoy it, have fun and make sure our horses have a good experience, that’s our priority. We have to remember how lucky we are to get our ticket as there are always so many in the qualifiers, for such few places. 

Sam Salad

Most excited about?

I’m very excited about my 4YR old horse in the Young Event Horse Class and also our own homebred 6yo. He jumps with my younger brother alongside, another 6yr old which he took over from me a few months ago. I can’t wait to see them do their thing! 

Any advice for someone who just missed out this year and wants to follow in your footsteps? 

We all know it can be a hard process, with long hours and hard work involved. And, there are definitely times when you feel you’re not getting anywhere, but keep going with it!! It will all come together and don’t forget to have fun trying. Get out schooling and be sure to get plenty of ring time – eventually it will start to feel like second nature! 

Don’t get too stressed if it doesn’t all come together straight away. Talk to your trainers, and other competitors and don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Have fun and best of luck!! 🍀


The Road to Dublin with Linda Murphy of Shirsheen Sport Horses

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