Born: February 17, 1958
Hometown: The Plains, Virginia
Karen O'Connor riding Theodore O’Connor at the 2008 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. (Photo by Mike McNally)
Karen O’Connor - along with her husband, 2000 Olympic Gold medalist David with whom she shares two Olympic Games Team medals - has been an instrumental part of the U.S. team since the late 1980s. O’Connor has a storied career finding success on four different continents.
O’Connor’s first major placing came at the Badminton CCI4* on March Brown in 1979. Her first team appearance was in 1986 on Lutin V at the Gawler World Championships in Australia. She has won CCI3*s at Punchestown, Foxhall, Rolex Kentucky, and twice at Fair Hill International. With Prince Panache, she won the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in 1999. She was a member of the 1988 Olympic team, a Team Silver medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and a Team Bronze medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She was part of the World Championship squad in 1994 and 1998, picking up a Team Bronze medal in 1998. She also rode Upstage as an individual in 2006 at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen.
O’Connor continued writing history when she picked up Team and Individual Gold medals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the 2007 Pan American Games with the amazing pony Theodore O'Connor. O’Connor was also the Individual Silver medalist from the 2003 Pan American Games aboard Joker's Wild.
With Mandiba, O’Connor competed at her fourth Olympic Games in 2008 in Hong Kong. In 2009, they finished their season at the Fair Hill CCI3* in Elkton, MD, jumping to a second-place finish.
In 2010, O'Connor and Mandiba blazed to a seventh place finish in the CCI4* at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone. In July, the pair won the CIC3*-W at The Event at Rebecca Farm. They finished their season by representing the U.S. at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, in September.
O’Connor finished out 2011 with successful placings riding Veronica. The pair was ninth at the Richland Park CIC3* and 12th at the Fair Hill International CCI3*.
2012 is off to a great start for O’Connor. She won two Advanced divisions at the Rocking Horse Winter II Horse Trials with Veronica and new ride, Mr. Medicott. At Red Hills International, O’Connor placed fifth and tenth in the CIC3* with Mr. Medicott and Veronica respectively.
Mandiba and Karen O’Connor at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. (Photo by Shannon Brinkman)
Riding Mr. Medicott, O'Connor finished fourth at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone CCI4*. O’Connor and Mr. Medicott showed that they are a team to be reckoned with at Bromont, winning the CIC3*. The CIC3* wasn't the only victory for O'Connor at Bromont as she also piloted Mandiba to a win in the CCI2* and rode RF Amber Eyes to a fifth place finish in the division as well. Mr.Medicott and O'Connor were the highest placed United States equestrians at the 2012 London Olympic Games, finishing ninth overall.
O'Connor is involved in the sport at every level; she serves on the USEF Board of Directors, is very active in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Instructor Certification Program and teaches riders of all ages. When she’s not riding or doing horse related activities, O'Connor spends time with her family and her dogs.