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Tue, 2016-05-17 08:39

Burghley Young Event Horse Champion Makes his way to the United States with Sean McQuillan

Sean McQuillan and Fulham at the 2015 USEA Young Event Horse Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA. 

Sean McQuillan is an upper-level event rider based in the heart of Area II eventing in Middleburg, Virginia. McQuillan boasts many accomplishments and top placings at competitions, and has been selected in the past for the Developing Riders List. Additionally, he previously worked as the assistant trainer to the now U.S. Eventing coach David O’Connor. An all-around horseman, McQuillan’s “horse first” mentality has created many successful partnerships throughout the years, making him not only a world-class competitor, but also a sought after clinician.

In the winter of 2015 McQuillan acquired Fulham, the talented 2014 Burghley 4-year-old Young Event Horse champion. McQuillan described the Dutch Warmblood gelding as having had a very good start to his career in England with their Young Event Horse program really setting him up for success. He explained that he was thrilled when his owners, Heather and Gary Newell, purchased him for McQuillan to continue to develop. Once the young horse was fully recovered from the stress of traveling overseas, McQuillan slowly worked to build their relationship.

McQuillan began his career with Fulham last summer when they went to their first USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) competition together at Carolyn Macintosh’s Loch Moy Farm. Here they qualified for the year-end championships at Fair Hill International in October. McQuillan shares, “The Young Event Horse program was great for Fulham. He started to learn what his job was without having to do all three phases at once, which can be a lot for a young horse.”

After their successful experience at Loch Moy, McQuillan took Fulham to two more YEH competitions for a continued experience. “There is a big difference between the routine YEH competitions and the championships. Even though it was early in his career, I felt he needed to do a Training level horse trial before the championships. At the time I had a lot going on in my personal life, so I wasn’t able to give him the most ideal lead up to the championships and it definitely wasn’t our best go. Regardless, I still was able to further develop our relationship together and knew what I needed to do in order to help Fulham succeed in 2016,” McQuillan describes. 

McQuillan has big plans for this special horse and knows he’s going to be one to watch in the future.  He was especially pleased that he took everything from last year right out of stride and is sharper and better for it. The current plan is to tentatively run a couple more Trainings and if he continues on the same track he’ll move up to Preliminary and hopefully do a CCI1* in the fall.

McQuillan shares his viewpoint on when it’s time to move your horse up to the next level, “My big thing with horses isn’t the ribbons when considering a move-up, I tend to wait until the horse doesn’t feel challenged and I know the horse has seen everything it’s going to see at that level, then I think they are ready for the next step. Once my horses are quietly confident at their current level, I know they are ready.”

McQuillan highlights his luck in having such supportive owners behind him who completely understand his “horse first” philosophy. He describes the Newells as having purchased a very talented horse, knowing full well that it would take time for him to develop into a top level horse. He shares, “We regularly communicate with each other and have laid out a systematic approach to Fulham’s development. It is so fun to have such great owners to share this journey with.”

To learn more about Sean and his program, please visit


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