A Pirate’s Life
Meghan’s four-star mount “Pirate” (Pirate Stronghold—Stars Heir, Risen Star) was discovered as a young scrappy three-year-old at a small race training facility near Fairmount Park in Collinsville, IL when Meghan was just 15 years old. Though Meghan was just along for the ride with her mom Jill and a friend on a racehorse reject hunting excursion, she was taken in by the scraggly but handsome bay gelding the barn staff was using to pony the “real” prospects. Even though he was outfitted in a giant western saddle, Meghan fell in love with his bouncy, balanced canter and his uncanny ability to do lead changes.
“I don’t take any day I ride Pirate for granted. He’s never given me a reason to doubt him. He shows up and gives 100 percent whether we’re at home or a competition. I feel really lucky and blessed to have Pirate.”
Photo by Shannon Brinkman
A True Partnership is Formed
Meghan begged and pleaded to take the gelding home with them, but she already had a horse that she was successfully competing and the barn was full. They left empty-handed, but about a month or so later received a call from the trainer that Pirate was just sitting in the field, and he wanted them to at least take him to try to sell. As fate would have it Meghan finally got her wish, and once Pirate was in the barn he was hers. The O’Donoghue’s paid off his purchase price in installments, and though she received several tempting purchase offers along the way, they were all refused.
Pirate and Meghan slowly and steadily ascended the eventing ranks. Though in 2011 they endured some disappointing setbacks, such as a poorly timed stone bruise which prevented them from competing in the FEI North America Young Rider Championship, 2012 was a definite break-out year for the pair. They jumped double clean at the Jersey Fresh CIC*** in the spring finishing 7th and successfully moved up to the CCI*** level at Fair Hill in the fall where they finished 12th.
Making it to the Big Leagues
In December of 2012, Meghan was named to the newly formed USEF Under 25 Training List and also awarded the USEA’s inaugural $10,000 Essex Grant—designed for developing riders under 25 to make the transition from the young rider ranks to the pros. Pirate and Meghan stepped up to a big stage in a big way in April when they completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** finishing as the top first-time rider and 12th overall. After their stellar performance at Kentucky, they were named to the 2013 Summer/Fall training list and awarded the Jacqueline Mars Competition and Training grant which enabled them to make their first overseas trip together to compete at the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CCI***.
Meghan and Pirate did not disappoint in their first European competition. Pirate was accurate and obedient in the dressage phase and they had a spectacular trip around the demanding cross country course, holding their own against some of Europe’s top riders and finishing 11th. In December of 2013, Meghan was awarded the Amanda Warrington Grant which was designed with the purpose of helping provide financial assistance to an event rider who has been identified as a rider with great talent and ability to represent the United States in the future. Pirate and Meghan’s 2013 success can be contributed to their very special partnership, Pirate’s stupendous gallop and scope, and of course loads of hard work.