This week’s World Equestrian Center – Ocala Sunday Spotlight shines on top international show jumper, Andrew Bourns. Bourns represents his home country of Ireland at top-level international competitions with Bourns Sport Horse’s Seatop Blue and Darquito. Just this year, Bourns has been on the winning Ireland team of two Nations Cups, $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* in Wellington and $400,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ in Langley. We met up with Bourns to learn more about his successes and the experiences that he has had at World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
WEC: Tell us a little about yourself and some of your recent accomplishments.
I am originally from Ireland. I am 38 years old and moved from Ireland 14 years ago to Wellington, Florida. Since then, I would normally leave Florida for the Summer and travel to New York or Kentucky. This was the first year that we have decided to stay in Florida for the entire Summer, then commute to shows here at World Equestrian Center, Tryon and Traverse City.
In the meantime, I have my horse Seatop Blue in Europe, he is going to show in the CSIO5* in Knokke, Belgium. I’ll fly to Belgium tonight and compete Seatop Blue all next week. Currently, we are on the shortlist for the World Equestrian Games. I am unsure if we will make the team at this stage, because the Irish team is extremely strong. It might be one of the most difficult teams to get on. Which is nice in a way because that means we have a better chance of winning.
The horse that I have here, Darquito has jumped up to the four-star level. He has won quite a few in Wellington. He’s an extremely successful horse for me. If I look at classes won, points accrued and money won over a lifetime, Darquito would be the better horse.
I have had him since he was seven-years-old, so that’s four years now. I know him inside-and-out. He’s a fantastic horse and I love him.
WEC: How does Bourns Sport Horses operate with several locations?
I have a team in Ireland and a team here in Florida. My team in Ireland produces the horses with my dad, Richard Bourns. We buy the horses as five-or six-year-olds, because you know exactly what they are doing, where they are from and what they are ready for. In Ireland, we probably have about 25 to 30 horses that are going to shows all of the time to develop. When they are eight-or nine-years-old, we import them here and compete. We showcase them at shows like this to show perspective buyers their talents, then hopefully they sell. That’s our business.
Sharn Wordley’s Gatsby and Casper came from us. Adrienne Sternlicht won back-to-back World Cup Qualifiers on a horse that we produced, Benny’s Legacy. We have had a lot of very big success stories, which is nice, because I love to see when the horses go on to do well with their buyers.
Our homebase in Wellington is gorgeous. It is 10-acres and walking distance to the show. We have a training program and a sales program. Predominately, our business is selling horses, but we now train riders and horses, that are all doing very well. I have to be careful with my time management, because it takes a lot of work and effort, but if it’s run properly everyone can benefit.
I have three very nice clients here with me and they have all been doing very well. Two of them placed in the world ranking class here the other day. I have been training a younger athlete who was double clear on Friday in the 1.35m Jumper. All of my clients are holding their own here which is nice, because it allows them the opportunity to compete at a standard like this and build from the experience. It gives them something to aspire to do. There is no doubt that their goals and dreams are to compete in the Saturday night class in front of all of those people. I know they will achieve it, I don’t doubt it for one second.
We have a fantastic team at both locations, and everyone shows up to support each other. I think I would say that is one of my biggest goals, to create a team spirit where we help each other be better.
WEC: Is this your first time competing at World Equestrian Center – Ocala?
Last week was my first time here. I love it here, it’s incredible to be able to show here at this time of year and be so comfortable. The footing is great, the hotel is amazing, I love the food and the restaurants. Later in the afternoon, I flat my horses in the air-conditioned indoors. You can’t get any better than that. I was teaching a lesson in one of the indoors and I wasn’t even aware that it was storming outside. It is truly an amazing place.
The night classes here have created such an atmosphere and buzz around them it’s so much fun. It really is worth it for riders like me to bring our developing horses and more experienced horses into a setting like this where there is more pressure to be competitive and a buzz of excitement.
Darquito, the horse that I brought loves an occasion and an audience. It’s become very apparent to us that he’s gotten used to it. Now, he has to have an audience every time he shows. When he feels the crowd, he grows. That’s the difference between a nice horse and a champion. A nice horse will walk down that ramp but shrink when they feel the pressure. A champion will grow, get bigger and try harder when it’s an occasion. Darquito is an amazing example of that. Even on Thursday night, he came down the ramp, saw the crowd and grew about four inches into a machine.
Having said that, it’s a very high standard here. The courses are big, and the jump-offs are fast. It’s brilliant, you created good sport where people are coming to participate and watch. It’s the old saying, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ I think the Roberts family, Vinnie Card and the entire team here have built something amazing, and everyone will come, it’s a matter of time. America needed something like this to draw more attention and life into the sport.
Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to chat with us! We wish you the best of luck next week in the CSIO5* in Belgium.