An inside look at Cian O’Connor and Karlswood 

At his gorgeous Irish equestrian center known as Karlswood, top show jumper Cian O’Connor finds success from effort.

By Jessica Konopinski

Karlswood Ireland stable

Maybe you watched him earn his Olympic Individual Bronze Medal at London in 2012, or perhaps you’ve seen images of his picture-perfect facility known as Karlswood. Regardless of how you may know him, there is not a more perfect time to emulate the inspiring Cian O’Connor after he qualified to compete in the final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

At Cian’s impressive Olympic performance in Tokyo this past August, he jumped clear in the individual show jumping final but had one time fault, which eliminated him from the jump-off. Still, finishing seventh, Cian’s admirable horsemanship qualities shined through when he withdrew his mount, Kilkenny, from the team final competition after he experienced a nosebleed towards the end of their individual round. “He looks great; the vets have checked him over, and he seems fine. We’re allowed to continue to compete, but for me, his future is more important. We’ll be back to fight another day. I’m just happy he’s in such good shape, and he jumped so well in the qualifier and the final,” Cian said as he helps cheer on his teammates from the ground. 


As an established member of Team Ireland for quite some time, 41-year-old Cian O’Connor is best known for his reputation as a top international show jumper and multi-medalist. At the young age of 19, Cian competed in his first Nations Cup, already setting him up for long-term success in the industry. In 2012, Cian earned his individual bronze medal in London. Following such an outstanding accomplishment, Cian then went on to earn his European gold team medal and European individual bronze medal in 2017. Supporting his country’s success, Cian has over 127 appearances in the show ring for Ireland. 

Cian O'Connor, show jumper equestrian, and family
13 August 2020; Cian O’Connor, Karlswood CEO, pictured alongside his wife Ruth, and children, Ben and Cara, as well as Cara’s pony, at Karlswood Stables in Batterstown, Meath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Cian and his team at Karlswood, located in County Meath, Ireland, spend most of their time traveling to compete at top international events. In addition to the Karlswood team’s impressive planning, perseverance, and dedication to Cian’s show schedule, Cian and his team also spend their time devoted to their clients at Karlswood, ensuring that their personal riding career goals are in alignment as well. 


Built around the belief, “Success is a reward for effort,” originated by Cian’s grandfather, Karlswood delivers the tools needed to achieve optimal success and well-being for both horse and rider. In operation since July of 2020, Karlswood offers horses and riders a holistic approach and takes pride in the best individual care and training programs, including coaching, mentoring, advising on horse purchases, and goal-setting. 

Cian O'Connor portrait
13 August 2020; Cian O’Connor, Karlstown CEO, stands for a portrait at Karlswood Stables in Batterstown, Meath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Set across 68 acres of lush countryside, the training facilities feature picturesque and breathtaking views. This setting helps create calmness and serenity, allowing the total focus to be on the well-being of the horses while ensuring peak standards in show jumping. 

Designed as a high-performance facility, Karlswood consists of indoor and outdoor sand arenas, a grass arena that can be modified to an international grand prix arena, a half-mile all-weather gallop, turn-out paddocks, and a wellness center with a salt therapy room, equine spa, aqua treadmill, vibrating floor, and a solarium. 


With success comes hard work—along with a team of talented individuals that help along the way. At Karlswood, Cian and his team’s main focus is providing a safe and dynamic environment that delivers comprehensive coaching and management training. Consisting of experienced grooms, trainers, and riders, the Karlswood team aids in determining the best program for each rider and horse. “We work with ambitious riders and international students who wish to continue their education in Ireland,” Cian says.

Karlswood Team - Tom Wachman, Max Wachman, Cian O'Connor and Alice Wachman
26 August 2020; Cian O’Connor during a Karlswood coaching session at Karlswood Stables in Blackhall Big, Batterstown, Meath. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Serving as a great asset to the Karlswood team are lead rider and trainer, Ross Mulholland, who assists in a multitude of tasks for the Karlswood team, with his outstanding experience and ability to organize objectives which ultimately result in a consistent program. Jan Distel also plays a significant role in the team, bringing his great experience in education in jumping to the table. Having worked under expert Gerry Mullins, Jan operates at a top level and is the perfect asset to a high-performance team and facility. In addition to Cian, Ross, and Jan are the many grooms, vets, farriers, and the administrative team. 

Karlswood riding arena

And then there are the four-legged teammates. PSG Final, also known as “Charlie,” is a highly qualified grand prix and Nations Cup horse who is the showstopper of the stable. Despite his high-caliber status comes his quirky personality and character. Other successful mounts include Kilkenny or “Kenny” and Careca LS Elite. A host of young horses are a part of the family as well, and the team shares their eagerness in bringing them along and tracking their progress and success. 


Coming from such a challenging year due to the effects of COVID-19, it’s safe to say there is excitement for the future. While there may have been setbacks, especially within the show-jumping world due to travel restrictions and reduced events, Cian and his team shared nothing but positivity in having the opportunity to be at home with their valued clients and horses. 

Olympic rings ceiling
4 November 2020; A general view of the facilities at Karlswood Stables in Batterstown, Meath. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Looking to the future for Karlswood, the main focus continues to be a world-class center of excellence. To keep evolving this reputation, Cian and his team at Karlswood are committed to staying true to their beliefs and passions regarding coaching, training, and development while also incorporating modernized approaches. Because with maximum effort comes great reward, they are the proof that, at Karlswood, success is a reward for effort.