Irish TV-watching horse wins in Florida

Shane Sweetnam and Solerina.
Shane Sweetnam and Solerina. © Sportfot

Irish showjumper Shane Sweetnam, who won his fourth opening competition at Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival on Wednesday with the Irish Sport Horse Solerina, revealed that he uses a television set in the stable to acclimatise the mare to the competition arena’s giant video screen. 

“She is very funny about the jumbotron (the giant video display); that is her big thing. She has matured about it, but she is still kind of nervous about it. She’s a much better horse when there is no TV,” he said.

The 33 year-old US-based Irish rider said that to help with Solerina’s nerves about the jumbotron, the mare has a TV screen that she watches in her stall at horse shows.

“It helps a little, but I’m not sure how much,” Sweetnam admitted. “She’s not as dramatic about it as she was before, but as soon as she sees a big TV it is still a factor. At shows she always has a TV in her stall. Spruce Meadows show jumping is what she’s watching at the moment. It used to be some cowboy guy before. I better get the Winter Equestrian Festival video, maybe that will work better.”

Despite her reservations about giant TV screens, the 15 year-old Cruising mare, who is owned by Sweet Oak & Spy Coast Farms, still took home the winner’s trophy in Florida on Wednesday night with a comfortable two seconds in hand over Mexican challenger Eugenio Garza and the stallion Providence 3.

“She is still high maintenance, but I have gotten to know her and she has gotten to know me and I know her quirks now,” he said.

Sweetnam has so far won four opening speed classes with different horses since the equestrian festival opened in Wellington, Florida eight weeks ago.

Shane Sweetnam in his winning presentation  with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia.
Shane Sweetnam in his winning presentation with Solerina, with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia. © Sportfot


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