Rosemary Gaffney joined Para Equestrian Ireland in 2010 following a bad fall in 2007 where she had multiple fractures in her knee and leg. She is a Grade IV rider and has represented Ireland in the European Championships and won numerous classes. Now, Rosemary is aiming for Tokyo 2020 with her beautiful bay mare, Werona, seen in the picture. We posed some quick fire questions to Rosemary and here are her answers..
If you hadn’t been a rider which career path would you have taken?
“I think I would have been an actress – I did a lot of acting as a child and was in the Gaiety as Thumblina when I was 4yrs old with my school Loreto Convent Clonmel. I was later accepted into The Gaiety School of acting but I chose horses instead, mind you I think the two are linked full of highs and lows – for both you have to be tough.”
Do you have a nick name or used to and if so what was/is it and why?
“Gaffers is probably the politest!! Students have been known to call me Cruella?!”
Are you addicted to anything?
“Horses and toffee bon bons”
Which guests dead or alive would you invite to a dinner party?
“My mother because she was some ‘craic’ and we used to have great fun together and get up to devilment.”
Best piece of advice that anyone has ever given you?
“ ‘Never give up and never give in’ this was told to me by Evie Croome Carroll who taught me to ride, she had 7 girls and one boy and I was just treated as one of the family. She took me hunting with the Tipperary Foxhounds with her at the age of 5!!”
Best advice you have given or could give someone?
“Again, ‘Never give up and never give in’ – there are plenty of times in my life that I should have given up – my first fall in 2007 when I shattered my left knee and it took me a lot of hard work and tears to get back riding. (Plenty of curses too) this is when I became a Para Rider and it was really hard to go for classification and to be told that ‘yes, you were officially disabled’. I was classified as a grade 5 at this stage.”
I then had another really bad fall in 2014 where I shattered my good leg - from the hip to the heel. The surgeon said it looked like a smashed windscreen. I was very lucky to keep the leg as they did want to remove it. I had many operations and there were lots of complications but one year spent with an Ilizarov external fixator and then another year learning to walk and ride again saw me set off in the competition world - this time as a Grade 4, but I am stubborn and stuck to Evie’s adviceand I am so glad that I did.”
Favourite meal and tipple?
“I am a real foodie and love eating so any nice food makes me happy.
My mother told me when I was a small girl that it is better to born lucky than rich and I have been so lucky with my friends – one took me on a trip on the Orient Express to Venice and the food was out of this world, each meal better than the last and another friend who sells high end cruises took me on a journey to ‘trial’ the Seven Seas Exployer from Italy all up the coast to Barcelona – between fillet steak and lobster – deserts to die for - they nearly had to roll me off.”
Tipple: “Diet coke (possibly another addiction).”
If you could be invisible for the day what would you do?
“Since I read this question my mind has been enjoying wicked thoughts. I so wish I could do this – I am known for being bold and getting up to devilment and would probably end up playing tricks on my family and friends – I would cause havoc and really enjoy it.”
What is your favourite programme and why?
“Downton Abbey – it was a beautiful era - I think I would have liked to have been upstairs though. I am just as happy sitting down with a good book and that’s what I love at internationals – plenty of time to read between tests.”
Your favourite film and why?
“Into the West I just love - I love how Irish it is!”
“Has to be Omar Sherriff when I was in my late teens and I was lucky enough to meet him when I worked in England, he was at a dinner party I was invited to. I was very young at the time and I am sure I just gazed at him with my mouth open.”
What’s your top training tip?
“Listen to the horse - often they will be telling you what you need to know!”
Who do you most admire?
“Carl Hester – he brought dressage into Top of The Pops and still kept it classical.”
Last equestrian item you bought?
“Clothes – I bought a new coat in Keysoe, I have to stop buying them, I could sell them!! I’m always buying ‘horsey’ clothes.”
What makes you cry?
“Publicly not much, but privately the amount of problems some young people have to deal with.”
Who or what couldn't you live without?
“Horses and my morning cup of coffee.”
Which horse (dead or alive) would you love to own and why?
“It would have to be Valegro, although Freestyle St George who I saw warm up in Rotterdam would come a close second.
(Now, I’m not saying I would be able to ride either of them!!!)”
Finally tell us what makes Childéric so special?
“The quality of the product is second to none, but the care and attention from the staff is what makes it special – both to the rider and also to the horse. My Childeric saddle is like my slippers comfy and fits my body like no other dressage saddle I have ever ridden in. My horses love them and move better, much happier and show more expression in their work.”