Mayo woman plays role in US Olympic medal glory

Posted in Connect on August 30, 2016.


A YOUNG Mayo woman has fulfilled an Olympic dream with the United States equestrian team.

Denise Moriarty, who grew up at Knockaphunta in Castlebar, was groom to Kent Farrington’s mount, Voyeur, winner of the silver medal in the team showjumping event at the Rio Olympics.

The 14-year-old gelding was looked after by Denise, who learned her early equestrian skills at the Turlough Equstrian Centre run by the Shaw family.

A graduate of St. Joseph’s Secondary School, she was in charge of all the horse’s dietary needs, its medication its preparation and logistics to and from Rio.

The horse is worth millions of dollars, underlining the importance of Denise’s role in the U.S. team.

She first fell in love with horses at Turlough Equestrian Centre.

Denise explained: “I worked there and took care of the ponies. I also experienced by first trail rides there. It was really good for building the confidence of young horses because they then learned to go forward and jump.”

At 14, she got her very own first pony when she purchased a squat little creature by the name of Bob for 100 pounds. “He was going to slaughter when I got him. He was so fat we couldn’t find a saddle to fit him!”

An upgrade to Prince Owen, a 14.2-hand Connemara pony, owned by the riding school, after Bob was outgrown, was when Moriarty started serious jumping.

Horses moved to the back burner when Moriarty went to Athlone Institute of Technology to study veterinary nursing before getting her masters in agricultural science. During her summer holidays, she often worked at Vinny Duffy’s Equestrian Centre in Knockmore.

After college, Moriarty got a job grooming for Marilyn Little and Raylyn Farms in Frederick, Maryland, US.

“I came to America because I wanted to travel, but I couldn’t afford to just travel and not make money, so this was the best way to do it,” Moriarty said. “I got to travel all over Europe and all over America and got paid to do it.”

While she enjoyed caring for all her charges, show jumping was her true passion and was thrilled when Farrington and his barn manager, Alex Warriner, offered her a spot on their team which subsequently led to her involement with the US equestrian team.

Story Sourced: The Connaught Telegraph

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