He got his first pony when he was about four years old, he has been competing since he was about eight and now he's a Bluegrass Horse Feeds Brand Ambassador. Thomas O'Brien speaks about becoming an ambassador for one of Ireland's leading horse feed manufacturers
He's hard working, competitive and very good at what he does but when he's been doing it since he was knee high that's no big surprise.
Thomas O'Brien is an acclaimed showjumper who, this year, joined Bluegrass Horse Feeds as a brand ambassador - a move which he says is very good for him.
As he was packing up to head to Cavan recently we spoke about growing up in a family of horse lovers, choosing the right feed and what have been the highs of his career to date.
The O'Brien family home is in Grange near Athenry in East County Galway. There are about 80 horses at the Galway Equestrian Centre - 25 of which are competition horses while the remaining are young stock and mares.
"We feed them all Bluegrass Horse Feeds," said Thomas. "It's a quality feed and there's something there for all horses. The feed is great for performance so being a brand ambassador is a great thing. To have the support of such a brand as Bluegrass Horse Feeds is a fantastic thing. The support is great.
"My whole family are in to horses and they always have been. I got my first pony when I was four so it is something that was just going to happen.
The 32-year-old's family is well known as one of the outstanding and successful families on the pony showjumping circuit in Ireland between 1990 and 2004. The husband and wife team of Thomas and Frances were both born and reared in this rural area of undulating fertile farmland, where they started with two stables in the mid 80s. Thomas's dad inherited the family farm and his mother too was no stranger to horses as she always had working horses on her farm as she grew up but it was only in her adult life she realised the history of her father and her grandfather's horse tradition. Her grandfather broke and trained young racehorses and her father was a showjumper in his younger day.
Thomas has two brothers, Joseph and David and has one sister, Ruth.
The three O’Brien boys have all represented Ireland on pony teams some eight or nine times abroad, travelling to France, Italy, England, Holland, Germany, Belgium and Polland. They, and their sister Ruth, all started competitive show jumping at age eight.
Thomas says life is busy but it's what he is used to and his proudest moment so far was producing Codarco and Hector in the same year.
Codarco was bred and produced by the O’Brien family at Galway Equestrian. He had remarkable results including winning the four year old final at the Dublin Horse Show in 2011, winning the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Showjumping series league as both a five and six-year-old which led to his qualification to represent the Irish Sport Horse Studbook at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium.
In 2012, Thomas and Codarco finished best of the Irish at Lanaken placing fifth in the five-year-old final. Back in 2013, Thomas and Codarco finished second in the six-year-old consolation final at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championship for Young Horses.
He won the Boomerang Final in Millstreet in 2014 and Chloe Reid took over the ride at the beginning of 2015 when he was purchased by Team Reid LLC.
Thomas said: "Producing Codarco and Hector was my proudest moment. Fantastic horses."