Success Equestrian is thrilled to announce our newest sponsored rider, Timothy Bourke, of Bourke Eventing! Tim has made quite the name for himself as a top event rider and sought-after trainer. Tim was named to the Irish High Performance list and is looking forward to the development and future success of Bourke Eventing. Let’s get to know Tim a little better…
SE: Please tell us about your past. Where you were born, and how you got into riding horses?
Tim: “I grew up in Western Ireland, in Wesport. I have been riding horses my whole life. My grandmother had a lot of influence over me as she ran a riding school. I attended Gurteen Agricultural College and studied Equine Studies. After college, I came to the US and began riding with Bruce Davidson. I learned a great deal through Bruce, especially producing event horses to the top level in the US. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. This was it for me.
My wife, Marley, and I headed back to Ireland for a year after working with Bruce, knowing that we would return to the States, and settle down there and start a business. That year in Ireland was extremely beneficial, as I worked at a show jumping barn for Jonathan Reape, and I came across this amazing 3 year old, Luckaun Quality.
We came back to the US, and settled down in VA, where we now have a very successful training facility.”
SE: What horse changed you as a rider and put your career into motion?
Tim: “Obie,” changed my life as a rider. This is the horse that made me. You know, we never had enough money growing up to buy really good horses, and when we brought along young horses, we didn’t have enough money to keep the really nice horses later on. But once I realized this was going to be my life and being a top level eventer rider was it for me, I knew I needed a really good horse. I ended up getting Luckuan Quaility, or “Obie,” an Irish Sport Horse (by OBOS Quality and out of a Cavalier mare) from the show jumping barn in Ireland. The Reape’s were very generous and knew this horse I are were meant for eachother. I broke Obie as a 3 yo in Ireland and knew he was a special horse, even though he was quite unrideable for a while. Actually he sort of still is unrideable, but that’s probably what makes him such a fantastic event horse. He has his own agenda!
We just clicked from the get go. Obie just cruised along once we brought him to the US. We did end up getting him tie back surgery after a difficult event, but after that we haven’t looked back, and Obie has been absolutely amazing. He is 11 years old right now, and he’s completed four four stars successfully.”
SE: What type of horse are you most attracted to? What qualities must an upper level horse have, in your opinion, to succeed?
Tim: “I’m not so much into pedigree, as I am into the type of horse. It’s more about the feeling I get when I sit on the horse. We do have a lot of horse’s that are from Ireland. I guess it’s based more on a feeling than an actual, or specific type. Though I do look for an uphill horse, with good conformation, that’s a good mover that can really jump. Though the brain is the most important factor. They must have correct brains.”
SE: Tell us about your current string of horses and your goals for them?
Tim: “Right now I have 16 horses in my barn. Some younger horses that are ready for the 4 and 5 yo young event horse outings, and I have some that are ready for their one star debuts. They all seem to have very promising careers. I start all my horses from the bottom up. My hope is that Obie will be a team horse at some point and represent Ireland.”
SE: What are your greatest strengths and what are your greatest challenges as an upper level rider?
Tim: “XC is definitely my greatest strength. I have trust and faith in my horses and that’s why I can ride boldly, go fast and make time, or come close to the time because I know my horses can do it. I would say my biggest challenge right now is dressage, though I’ve been working really hard in this area. This fall I will hone in on making more progress in dressage and in show jumping.”
SE: What’s your farm life like?
Tim: “We are based in VA, and we are doing really well. Our business and farm has grown a lot. I really enjoy teaching, and seeing other people progress is just really cool. Of course I also love producing the horses. We have a great team, and my wife is the most amazing person, and I couldn’t do this without her support. She basically runs this business and I think I have the easy part. My wife is also pregnant with our first child, and we are very excited!”
SE: What advice would you offer to a young rider, or anyone looking to “make it” in this sport?
Tim: “It’s not just a career, it’s a lifestyle. You have to love it that much, otherwise, don’t bother. You certainly won’t get rich doing this, which is why you have to absolutely love every part of it. If you work hard, you’ll get a lot out of this sport, and lifestyle. You have to put the time and energy in.”
SE: Lastly, please tell us why you chose Success Equestrian Saddle Pads?!
Tim: “I love Success Equestrians saddle pads because they DO NOT MOVE! They look great too. I don’t just accept any sponsorship. I have to really believe in the product. After meeting Bill at Rolex, I took a saddle pad and didn’t get back to him for at least a month, because I wanted to really to see how I liked the saddle pads. I have some horses who are difficult to fit, as far as saddles, and I needed something that would keep my saddles secure and in place, and these pads accomplished that.”