Kate Kerr-Horan’s secret for managing mindset – ‘Get out and get on a horse’

  • 12 June 2020, 16:04

Kate Kerr-Horan and Serafina T in action for at Keysoe in 2019

After breaking her wrist on Christmas Eve, High-Performance Para-Dressage athlete Kate Ker-Horan had to accept that 2020 was not going to start off on the same high note that 2019 ended on, a global pandemic adding further insult to injury. But Kate has high hopes for the future.

Last Friday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that it is safe to move to Phase Two of the plan to reopen our country. He spoke of the last few months during lockdown and described how “fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope lifting us up again”.

Everyone’s experience of the last few months will be different, for Kate-Kerr Horan it was one of immense frustration. Kate and her nine-year-old mare Serafina T had a fantastic 2019 season with top placings at Doha, Waregem, Kronenberg and Hartpury. The pair finished the season in style with a podium finish in the CPEDI3* Individual competition at Keysoe in October. Kate arrived in Keysoe having spent a few busy days coaching Irish riders at the Dressage Ireland National Championships before going on to then record her highest scores to date with a 71.1% in the Freestyle at Keysoe.

After Serafina T’s performance in Keysoe, Kate decided to give her a well-earned rest and was just brining her back into light work before Christmas, when Kate had an accident that would see her side-lined for the start of the 2020 season.

I had broken my wrist and some bones in my fingers and ended up having surgery on Christmas day.

“On Christmas I was leading in a horse from the field,” Kate begins. “The horse got a fright and knocked me down. I had broken my wrist and some bones in my fingers and ended up having surgery on Christmas day. The injury was to my weak arm and the recovery was very slow, but I was planning my first competition for March 14th and was well on track with my training and recovery when the competition was cancelled due to Covid-19. I was just coming back when everything got cancelled, so for me that made lockdown very frustrating.”


Mindset has a huge impact on how we process disappointment. Kate’s secret to maintaining a positive mindset? “Get out and get on a horse. That’s how I keep my head, I get out and go for a ride. But I am also very lucky to have a great support team around me who are able to help me overcome any setback and really keep me motivated. My mum for one, every day my mum helps me – she’s a huge support.

“Donie McNamara trains me regularly and the Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance Programme is a huge support too. Debora Pijpers [Interim Para-Dressage High-Performance Director] has arranged several conference calls with all the athletes where we’ve been able to catch up. It’s great because at this time of year we would usually be away together at shows and the last few months have really been quite lonely in comparison. It’s good to hear how others are coping and managing their time. It’s nice to know there are others out there experiencing the same things that you are.”


“Last year was pretty amazing. It started off in Doha with a trip of a lifetime, so I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone in Horse Sport Ireland for getting us there. It was my mares first time flying and to know that she took that all in her stride was very reassuring with the next Olympics being in Tokyo.

“Out there the temperature was very high and that was a worry for me because when I’m riding my breathing does become quite laboured and the heat can make it more difficult, but I coped really well and I got to ride in THE BIGGEST arena I have ever ridden in and it was just such an amazing experience. It was a major confidence boost for Searfina T and I as a pair.

I’m very much looking forward to what we can do in the future.

“Serafina T has a very kind temperament; she’s laid back but has amazing paces and I am hoping to make it onto more teams in the future. She is still quite young so I’m very much looking forward to what we can do in the future. She’s back in work again now and we are really concentrating on building both of our fitness. My primary focus now is on getting our training back up to where it was last year. I had one lesson with Debora Pijpers in December last year, about 10 days before my accident, the lesson went really well and it was great for Debora to get to know Serafina T and I, but I’ve not had the chance yet to have a follow-up lesson so I’m looking forward to that and if we get to go to a competition this year that’s a bonus.

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