Irish Eventer Camilla Speirs On Tom Cruise, Her Miracle 9-Year-Old & One Thing She Can’t Ride Without
byNina Fedrizzi| Oct 24, 2017
Equestrian sport has often been equated to a roller coaster ride, complete with stunning highs and breathtaking lows. But the same analogy can be made for producing horses; a slow, ticking climb, replete with occasional pitfalls. There are many ways to go astray, but when successful, the track can transport a competitor to the highest levels of the sport.
At 28 years old, Irish eventer Camilla Speirs is well familiar with the process, having already produced her partner of nearly 15 years, Portersize Just A Jiff [“Jiff”], from the pony classes to multiple top-ten CCI4* finishes and two Olympic Games (London 2012 and Rio 2016 as the traveling reserve). Now, Speirs is turning her attention to a new crop of promising youngsters, including the 9-year-old miracle horse, BT Cloud Nine (read on!), who won his first CCI2* event in Cappoquin, Ireland in July; and the 7-year-old BT Rock and Roller, who competed successfully last weekend at the Mondial du Lion World Breeding Championships in France.
With a bright future on the horizon and two talented greys poised to take her there, we caught up with Camilla to give her our Twenty Questions quiz.
1. At what exact moment did you fall in love with horses?
I don’t recall the exact moment. However, my dad always laughs that at the age of about three, I had to go out to the yard to give my ponies, Misty and Pixie, a cuddle before bedtime every night.
2. For riding, do you prefer black boots or brown boots?
Black all the way—Tredstep Medici are my all time fav!
3. If you could do any other equestrian discipline, what would it be and why?
It would probably be show jumping. I like the thrill of jumping big fences!
4. What is the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to you while riding?
Oh gosh. I was representing Ireland at the Junior European Championships in France when I was 14. We had to wear a delightful, air hostess-inspired outfit for the veterinary inspection. We were supposed to wear tights, but as it was so hot, the girls decided we’d wear stockings instead.
A combination of being a scrawny little teenager and it being awfully hot [outside] saw my stockings start to fall down as I was trotting up my horse. By the end of our jog, they ended up down around my ankles… Needless to say, I got severe slaggings and the photo is still up in our house for everyone to remember.
5. What is the most inspiring thing to have ever happened to you while riding?
Representing Ireland on my first Senior Team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky was pretty inspiring. I remember schooling my horse, Jiff, one day in among my idols such as Edward Gal and Totilas and Michael Jung and his double Olympic medal horse, La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.
6. What is your favorite #TwoHearts Moment of recent seasons?
I have a really talented young horse, BT Cloud Nine, who fractured his leg very badly in the field as a 7-year-old (he’s now 9). Although we were aware of the risk of him never been able to compete again, we decided to operate. We knew he was going to be a super talented horse and he is such a lovely person, too. After having a year off, we gradually brought him back into work.
This season, he won his International 2* and was also double-clear and 11th in his first 3* International. I know I have a very tough and special horse to fight back after that injury and it was a real #twohearts moment to know you have a fighter as your teammate.
7. What was the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your riding?
It’s not possible to be perfect!
8. Who is your mentor and why?
I would definitely struggle to mention just one person in particular—I feel I have one hell of a team around me!
9. If you could ride a horse from the past, who would it be?
Mark Todd’s Charisma.
10. If you could ride a horse right now that is not your own, who would it be?
It’s a horse that has been competing away a little bit under the radar, as it’s still quite young. But funnily enough, its another ride of Mark Todd’s called McClaren. I asked Toddy if he would sell him as soon as I laid eyes on him, but he had just had some owners buy [the horse] for him. I was gutted. I think you will see big things from this horse in the next few years.
11. How do horses keep you grounded in the industry that you live/work in?
Horses must never be taken for granted and I think it’s really important to identify that sometimes, things can’t always be in your control. It’s about learning how to balance the ups and downs of our sport.
12. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I don’t deprive myself of anything enough for it to be guilty!
13. When were you most happy on a horse?
It sounds cliché, but I’m generally pretty happy riding horses endlessly, all day.
14. If your horse were a famous person, who would they be?
Jiff would definitely be Tom Cruise: pint-sized, handsome, and capable of doing all the difficult action stunts!
15. What is one piece of riding clothing or equipment you could never do without?
In Ireland? A good, waterproof jacket!
16. What is your helmet of choice and why?
Antares. It is extremely comfortable, protective, and stylish.
17. Which famous clothing brand do you wish would come out with an equestrian line?
I love good, tailored equestrian clothing. Style is just as important to me as comfort and technically advanced design. I’m not sure, to be honest—there are some pretty amazing brands out there at the minute.
18. What is your biggest splurge to date when it comes to your riding and/or horse(s)?
Probably my lorry—she’s big and beautiful and has everything you could ever want! We had Platinum horse trucks build it for us to our spec, and the horse area is arguably just as well kitted out as the living area.
19. What is the best piece of riding advice you have ever received?
Michael Jung is a rider I really, really admire, and once I remember him telling me, “An amazing horse does not always give you that amazing feeling.” It is often the challenging young horses who are the ones that turn out to be the best. They have that character and that fire in their bellies that makes them want to carry on up to the top level.
20. What is your life motto?
Work hard, play hard!
-Photo credit: Ben Clark.
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