Sam is an event rider as well as the founder of the data analytics company, EquiRatings. His wife Hannah (‘Sparkles’) runs their eventing yard at Ballybolger Stud in County Carlow. As breeders, producers and an international competition yard, they have a busy year-round operation. Sam is sought after for coaching clinics around the world which he enjoys thoroughly.
Sam met Sparks at his first five-star in Pau in 2008. Sam is a process person and Sparks is a morning person, so the highlight of their day is working with their horses every morning. Eventing is not a job on this team, it is a passion-fuelled daily pursuit of progress.
Since meeting, they have completed 11 major championships together for Team Ireland. Sam’s first senior championship came in 2009 aboard his parents’ homebred Horseware Bushman (‘George’) who is now responsible for ‘educating’ the next generation of homebreds in the fields at Ballybolger.
For a single moment, the team silver medal at the 2018 World Equestrian Games was a special one. Walking into the arrivals hall at Dublin Airport to hundreds of supporters and their two boys, Archie and Toby, won’t be forgotten. Sam’s father, John, won a silver medal at a World Championships in Kentucky forty years previously, so it was quite the reunion.
In 2019, Sam was ranked 7th in the FEI world rankings. He was the first Irish rider to break into the FEI top ten.
Team Silver at the World Equestrian Games, Tryon 2018
Competed for Team Ireland at 11 major international championships including the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, four World Equestrian Games and six European Championships
2020 & 2019 back-to-back CCI4*L winner, Ballindenisk International with Imperial Sky
2019 CCIO4*-NC-S winner, Camphire International with Imperial Sky
We want the best for our horses & don’t want to miss out on a performance edge. The science behind Equilume makes so much sense and really helps my horses look and feel great.”
Sam Watson, Ireland