Interview Cameron Hanley – just never give up

21. Aug 13 | 6:17 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

21.august 2013

For many years Cameron Hanley was known as one of the leading Irish riders. Then he was out of the sport for more than a year. He had been injured playing with his children. A small medical problem in the beginning, a huge one in the end, causing almost 20 operations.

Now Cameron Hanley is finally back in the top level sport. At the Pfingstturnier in Wiesbaden he showed that he can still win a Grand Prix competition. Now he is competing at the European Championships in Herning and is always dreaming to fulfill his most important wish: winning a medal.

I talked to Cameron Hanley about his long medical history, his horses, free time and his look at the future.


After such a long time without riding at shows – what did the recent victories e.g. in Wiesbaden mean to you? Is there some difference in your feelings compared to your wins before the accident?

I was out for such a long time – it´s just great to be riding again and the bonus is to have such nice horses and be doing big shows. Winning in Wiesbaden meant a lot to me regardless of being out it´s just a great show with a great public. The evening after winning there my wife Evelyn and stayed with our friends in Pfungstadt and had a party there.


Playing with your children you were hurt – and an infection brought a matyrdom. If you could please tell our readers shortly what exactely happened?

I ruptured my patella tendon while jumping some fences in my garden with my kids, after the first OP to repair the tendon I got a bad infection in the the knee joint and tendon, to make along story short the tried a tendon transplant that also failed and I ended up in hospital for 4 months and had 17 operations. At one stage in hospital the wanted to fuse my knee joint so I would not be able to bend my leg again, this was a low point.


How did you manage it to never give up and get back on horses?

To never give up is just the way I was raised, it´s the only way I know and its helps to have great friends and a great family supporting you!!


Still it is a bit difficult to walk around for you. Will this handicap go away some time?

I walk a bit funny now but that´s because of the mechanics of my knee not pain, I don’t know if that´s going to get better.


With Antello you have one extraordinary horse… What is for you special about him?

Antello is amazing, he is very very careful and we have a great bond.


Antello was half sold to Michael Whitaker but then a new sponsor bought him back for you? Who is this sponsor?

I´m very lucky to have great owners. Eleonore Paschoud and Yves Bouvier are a swiss couple with a passion for horses and sport. So I got this wonderful horse!


For years you rode for Turkish Sevil Sabanci. Looking back: Was it a satisfying time for you?

Working for Sevil Sabanci was a very good thing for me, I got to ride some great horses and I learnt a lot training with Gerry Mullins.


Which horses aside from Antello are you riding at the moment… What are your hopes with them?

I have a wonderful group of horses and have some very promising young ones coming through. I´m looking forward to go to all the big shows with them.


What is your goal for this year?

I´m in Herning at the European Championships at the moment and am delighted to ride a championships again, after that I will do some smaller international shows and try to bring on my younger horses.


What is the most extraordinary moment in your career for you?

When I won the Grand Prix in Dublin…  This was probably the best moment.


Your parents have always been involved with horses. When did you start riding horses?

I started riding when I was about 8 and I was a little slow to get going at about 14 it really took off and I’ve never looked back since.


You moved to Germany from Ireland very early… Do you sometimes miss Ireland? How often are you going there?

I moved to Switzerland when I was 18 and then on to Germany so I’m more than 20 years away from Ireland now, of course I miss Ireland sometimes but I get to go home maybe two times a year.


What is special about horses for you?

I love all animals and always have but horses are really special. When you meet the right horse the bond you can build with them and the level of trust is amazing.


How does a normal training day look like for you?

After my injury I don’t ride as much as I used to earlier. I´m riding about five horses a day now, I also work together with my brother Carl and Alex Duffy with their horses. They are very supportive.


When you are not riding what do you like to do in your free time?

When I’m not riding I try to spend as much time as possible with my family or looking for young horses with Carl. Horses are somehow always aroung me…


Do you have a special philosophy in life?

My philosophy is just to never give up, „I can accept defeat but not surrender“ and also now just not to take things for granted, enjoy the simple things.


If you´d have one wish to be fulfilled, what would it be?

I really want to win a championship medal.


Interview: Alexandra Koch

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