KALISPELL – Young horseback rider Benjamin Noonan dreamed about competing in big events like The Event at Rebecca Farm.
Noonan is a 15-year-old high school student from St. Louis. During the summer, when Noonan isn’t in classes, he drives down to Florida with his parents to train with his horses.
However, when he wanted to start horseback riding he had no idea where to start — that’s where he said he was discovered by the legendary O’Connor family.
Noonan even lives with the O’Connors when he trains in Florida, “they teach me everything from riding a horse, from getting a horse for the first time,” explained Noonan.
Noonan said the O’Connors are considered horse royalty to many in the community.
“Karen, she went to the Olympic Games five times, and David, he went and he won a gold medal in 1996 and won a silver team medal for the United States and he actually went to the Olympic Games in Sydney Australia and he actually won a gold medal,” said Noonan.
The legacy of training with the O’Connors doesn’t stop there. Noonan’s coach, Allison Springer, grew up training with the O’Connors and credits them for her success.
“Growing up in the Midwest just loving horses and then I found my way to the East Coast through the O’Connor which are kind of the top in this country and they really brought me to the top level of the sport,” said Springer.
She told MTN News that being able to share this commonality with Benjamin is extremely special. “So, circling back and giving back to my area has been a dream of mine,” explained Springer.
While the O’Connors couldn’t be at The Event at Rebecca Farm, Noonan is ready to compete. He told us that his dream is to be an Olympics horseback rider, just like his mentors.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News