Oonagh Kennedy is one of the hardest working women in equestrianism, with no thoughts of being anything other. “I like being busy. I really enjoy running my equestrian retail business, Team KEC Style.

"It’s a small bespoke shop, heading into its eleventh year, doing high-end brands for riders and horses. I am currently living at home at Kennedy Equine Centre, with over 30 home-bred horses in work, they are a very exciting bunch and it will be an interesting summer.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Oonagh is also the founder and runs the highly successful Youngster Tour, Five Stars Tour and The Pony Stars Tour.

Oonagh admits the idea for the Tour had been floating around for many years. “Horse production costs were rising, and the chasm between the 40 plus professional riders and the rest of the country’s riders was widening.

New platform

“Access to the main arenas for those producing the late developers was almost non-existent, so the Youngster Tour was set up in 2020 to give those producers a new marketing platform and access to those main arenas.

“It makes young horse production more accessible to a wider range of riders. Horse Sport Ireland supported me, and sponsors came on board and the rest is history.”

The Five Stars Tour was rolled out in 2021 expressly for the majority of Irish riders who compete from 85cm up to 1.30m level. “It is very simple concept, but was so innovative, people got invested and excited about the sport again,” Oonagh says.

“The Five Stars Tour created a Grand Prix Day for all levels. The numbers were record-breaking, the Tours have had a direct input of over €625,000 to the industry in entries, levies, prize-money and prizes to date.

“The ripple effect, including sales and spend within the industry, runs into millions. The Pony Stars Tour was added this year, another completely new concept.”

The future is bright for the Tours, they are trade-marked and are now a recognised show jumping brand. The aim is that the Tours will be state funded as a ‘grassroots movement’, like other associations.


The Tours are now run on the Equipe App, the same as Dublin, Millstreet and Balmoral shows, and have no membership or registration fees, making it more accessible.

Oonagh has an interest supporting our young Irish riders and equestrian staff and is working towards ways of improving things: “We have such talented riders and horses, but [a lack of] well-trained staff is becoming a limiting factor in many yards.

"‘The basics’ need to be learned. A more joined-up training process for our young riders’ education with knowledgeable yards is needed. More investment in yard infrastructure, in prize-money for breeders, producers and young riders is essential."

It is, of course, not easy to work as hard as Oonagh does – she admits she is bolstered by her friends saying: “They are an amazing eclectic bunch with a wide range of backgrounds, opinions and ideas that amaze me regularly.

"With ‘horse people’ in general, the passion for horses, the sport, the craic, the energy can be electric, it is very easy to be inspired.

“The tough days have given me the tools to tackle almost anything. I am a very positive person which is a huge advantage. I always make a plan. I like to meet friends, a chat over coffee normally helps focus my thoughts.

"I enjoy the horses, being outdoors, a spa day with the girls, reading, I try to have a few days ‘switched off’ in September. I want to breed and produce more home-breds up the levels and of course it is every breeder’s dream to breed an Olympic horse, mine is no different.”