Martin O'Rourke rode his horse, Kind of Spiffy, to a sixth-place finish today, in the amateur owner hunter class for riders over 25 years old. And O'Rourke was happy with his showing at the Upperville Colt and House Show at Grafton Farm.
"Winning a ribbon here, any ribbon, is like winning a first place," said O'Rourke, 58, of Sewickley, Pa. Winning blue ribbons at Upperville, or any other major horse show, is not an everyday occurrence for O'Rourke the way it is for Jane Gaston of Charlottesville, who rode Upon A Star to victory in the class.
"I go against 32 other people, who ride every day and who are a lot younger than me," said O'Rourke, who owns and operates a moving company in Pittsburgh. "I'm one of the oldest people riding."
O'Rourke has been showing hunters in amateur owner events for 18 years. People like him keep these six-day equestrian extravaganzas in the black.
"I don't smoke and I don't drink, it's a clean life," O'Rourke said. "You end up with a heart attack if you are an executive seven days a week. You forget about your troubles when you head for the fences."