The family Man with a big heart
Technique, instinct but even more so sensitivity and deeply rooted human values are what characterise Cameron Hanley
Cameron Hanley riding looks like a riding manual. Watching him ride you understand many different things about him: the first is that he has an instinct that is out of the ordinary, that allows him to understand any horse; the second is that he has a very refined technique seasoned with special attention towards his horses. It is very difficult, in fact, to find photos in which his hands are not smoothly directed towards the horse's mouth! Indeed that style has perhaps become his trademark. Cameron has fine-tuned his education by working hard: "Colonel Jerry Mullins taught me the technique. I repeated to myself that instinct is important, but it is not enough - explains the rider - I understood, thanks to his help, that beyond a certain level of competition, if you are not technically prepared it is impossible to win".
Cameron Hanley left Ireland at the age of eighteen and worked hard, moving around Europe, until he reached Germany where he has been living for many years. Despite the distance from his country, his family is more united than ever and after his accident they did a great deal to help him: "My relatives and my friends went out of their way for me, each to their own extent. My cousin Ivan, who was a stuntman for many years and knows something about accidents, did a lot of research to try to understand how best to heal my knees. I received a lot of love and great support. Even my sponsors, Animo in particular, showed me so much affection and solidarity, I can never forget that".
Perhaps it's the fear of being in difficulty again or possibly because for him human relationships are fundamental or even a mixture of the two, whichever, Cameron chose to do things as far as possible in the 'family' style. Trust for him is extremely important and the Irish rider has surrounded himself with people he believes in, his brother Carl first and foremost, with whom he has always worked and with whom for many years he has shared the stable, the team with which he works that for a long time has always consisted of the same persons of proven trustworthiness, as well as his wife Evelyn, his sons Finn and his daughter Niamh. Of them he says: "We are all committed to this project and it is great to be able to work with my family. My children ride and are both really keen. I would like to see them continue along this road but only, of course, if that makes them happy".
The horses of course are also part of his family. For him to lose his jumpers was a blow not only to his career, but also emotionally. Cameron Hanley has loved animals since being a child; he dreamed of working in a zoo and has a personal relationship with his horses. For him they are companions, not machines with which to obtain results or a means to make money. Not only does he do everything possible to give them a good life - as proof simply look at the size of the paddock of his stable - but he also makes a point, during a sale, of ensuring they are going to be happy. "Yes it's true - he confirms - I get very attached and for me it's hard to break away, from some in particular. At home I still have my now very old ponies from when I was a child. When I sell a horse I try to make sure it ends up in good hands".
This was the case, for example, with Southwind, the chestnut horse that gave him great satisfaction and that was purchased for Tiffany Foster with which he obtained excellent results. "He is a very special horse. He has a fantastic character and is completely reliable. I also had my daughter ride him and she is an only child! To know he is living with a responsible person who cares about him is very important for me". In a world where the logic that moves the world is too often that of money, Cameron Hanley is a rarity. For him before earnings come respect and love. During the interview, the temptation to provoke him was irresistible: "Cameron - we asked him - would you sell a horse to a rider that you didn't like?" The answer was a direct “no”. Not content we dug deeper: "Not even for lots of money?" "No way," he responded, “not even for a dream”.
Cameron Hanley Tips:
1. What do you consider your greatest success?
Having started with nothing and having been able to make my own mark in the world.
2. Which is the horse that changed your life?
Hippica Kerman. The one that allowed me to make a leap in quality.
3. Which is the horse of the future?
4. Which is the horse you'd most like to ride?
I'd like to be able to ride Caretina de Joter again (now being ridden by Edwina Tops Alexander the saddle). She is a great jumper and between us there was a beautiful relationship.
5. What is your best quality?
I'm stubborn and I never give up.
6. What is your worst fault?
7. What has been the best moment of your career so far?
Winning the Grand Prix of the Dublin CSIO (with Twilight in 2000). It was brilliant. When I was little I watched the race on television and I dreamt I myself would ride there so winning on that track was really special.
8. And the worst?
Without a doubt: the knee injury.
9. What is your greatest dream?
To be able to continue to be happy.
10. What advice would you give to a young rider who intends to do this job?
Work, work and then work again. If you want to do this job you have to be ready to give everything you've got.