Busy times ahead

At a sociable and productive club meeting in the newly revamped Tir Na nOg bar the calendar for the coming few months was decided, as well as matters arising from the recent inter club regional meeting being discussed. The calendar dates can be seen on the relevant page of this website and a quick perusal of these dates will assure you of both entertainment and education over the spring and into the summer. Some events are still subject to venue availability so do keep an eye on the page for updates. One notable highlight on the spring calendar is our return to Marina’s studio for some therapeutic sculpting on the 16th of March.

Our new club logo is now up and running, with Jenny Coe taking orders for clothing for embroidery. A couple of different styles and weights of jacket were on display at the meeting, alongside warm beanie hats and baseball caps. Contact Jenny on 086-0844748 to order your gear.


2018 spring league

Inter club updates

I apologise in advance for giving you these updates second-hand rather than having actually attended the inter club meeting and being able to report directly. I was obeying HSE directives on treatment of influenza…sleep, and then sleep some more. Fortunately Hazel and Louise kept us in the loop, so I can relay their report.

We have a new club in our region. Stracomer Riding Club has joined the ranks and will be out in force at all the inter club events.

Our club is responsible for running the second leg of the spring league, which is on February 11th. We are also responsible for the first half of the day on March 18th, which is the final.

A hunter trial league, legs of which may or may not include dressage, will be run over the summer and autumn. The running of each leg will be shared between two clubs and provisional dates are as follows; 24th March, 15th July and 30th September.

A number of other diary dates were set and are on our Calender tab.

Being sociable

As we all know riding club is primarily a mounted social club. OK, so it gets competitive on occassion and there can be an educational aspect to the whole thibg, but lets call a spade a spade (or a grape a grape)….it’s the social aspect which keeps us turning out. So I’m delighted to tell you of a number of sociable gatherings coming up which will help to keep you sane through the rest of our delightful winter.

First up is an interclub meeting on the 8th of January. A chance to meet up with friends from all around the county and compare notes about just how out of practice we’ve all been getting over the season of short days and over indulgence on the catering front. The meeting is in the Glencar Inn and kicks off at 8pm.

The 12th of January brings us back to Damian and Nadine’s house for their, now famous, annual Wii night. As previous participants can assure you the craic and hospitality are second to none.

Not to forget that we are a riding club, and that the highly competitive spring league will be kicking off on the 4th of Feb, we have two training nights with Kelda. These are on the 19th and 26th of January.

As a final salute to inter club friendliness we have a bowling night on the 2nd of Feb at Arena 7 in Letterkenny. Arrive to dine at 8pm or, if you prefer to skip the meal and just throw your balls about, you can arrive for bowling at 9pm. Do be sure to let Marina know by Monday 29th of January if you plan on attending as she will need to confirm numbers with the venue. The cost, including the meal, is E22 per person.

For those who enjoy a top class meal, good music and great fun, whilst looking stunning in the process, tickets are now available for the annual Donegal Harriers Hunt Ball. This year the venue is the An Grianan hotel in Burt. Tickets are E45 each and the dress code is of course black-tie. The ball is on the 24th of February and is hugely sociable.

Happy Christmas

Wishing all our members, both two legged and four legged, human, equine and canine, a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a happy and successful 2018.

Summer is coming

As anyone involved in a riding club committee can tell you, the planning for the summer calendar starts the previous autumn and winter, so it is great to be able to firmly write in the annual Riding Clubs Festival at this early stage of the 2018 season.

The Association of Irish Riding Clubs has announced that the 2018 Riding Clubs Festival is to move to a new venue after 12 years at Stradbally Hall Estate in Co. Laois.

The Board of Directors began exploring five venues, including Stradbally Hall Estate, in September and after a consultative process, it was decided to move the two-day show to Mullingar Equestrian on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June 2018.

The process involved taking on board feedback from our members and also our National Committee and Riding Clubs Festival Advisory Working Group who were both provided with a detailed presentation regarding the various options under consideration.

There were a number of factors which lead to the decision including the need to revitalise the show, financial costs, set-up and clean-up requirements, the impact on volunteers, and also the need to modernise how we operate before and during the event.

Stabling costs will be reduced for members at Mullingar Equestrian in 2018.  Camping will also be available at the new venue next year.

Chairman Tony Ennis said,

It wasn’t a decision taken lightly by the organisation but after 12 years at Stradbally Hall we felt a change was needed to reinvigorate the show. We believe Mullingar will offer our members a different experience at our flagship show.

“We will be focusing on delivering a quality and fun experience for our members at this new venue over the coming months,” he said.

Perhaps we should plan a weekend away for our own club…in Mullingar?

Winter motivation for you all

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Only got 4 poles/jumps? No worries, try these exercises out at home. You don’t need to always jump big to train for the questions that course designers ask at shows.
Pinwheel of Death aka Circle of Death – terrible nickname for a great exercise!!! The poles can be placed on a 20m diameter circle to start with, and decrease once you build collection and balance with your horse. This means that the inside edge of each pole should be about 54ft apart on either side of the circle. Start with poles on the ground and then try making them cavaletti height (approx. 12-18 inches). You should probably get about 4 strides between each pole, but don’t focus on the strides but rather the rhythm and bend and jumping from center to center. You will soon figure out what is the optimum number of strides for your horse that will enable you to smoothly jump each in the same rhythm and not run past the next one (if this happens, you are going too fast and/or not keeping the bend over the pole/cavaletti).
Switchbacks aka Zig-zag line: These poles/cavaletti can be placed end to end at about right angles to each other (just make sure you have left enough room for the rollback from the arena fence). Plan your rollback before getting to each pole/cavaletti (create the new bend and have your legs in the correct position to ask for the change over the pole) and remember to use your eyes to rollback on a straight line perpendicular to the next pole. Maintain a quiet, steady rhythm, start with larger rollback circles and then decrease the size of the rollbacks as you are more organised and keep them symmetrical.
Bending lines: These can be done as poles on the ground, cavalettis or jumps. You can play around with the distances, but remember it will depend on the size of the fence, as well as the size of the horse/pony. If they are poles on the ground, then allow 3-4 feet landing and takeoff, then a regular horses non-jumping stride is 12 feet, so a bending 5 stride line of poles on the ground will be 66-68 ft on the curve, same with cavaletti. If they are fences of about 90cm and above, then you can build it on 70-72 ft. Depending on the number of strides you want, you need to adjust the above numbers by 12 feet (subtract 12 feet for 4 strides, add 12 feet for 6). Remember to ride the turn and get to the fence perpendicular and plan your bending line. Do you expect your horse to do a flying lead change over the fence? If so, you need to give him the correct aids before you take off so he can change in the air. Practice getting your legs aids in place the second last stride before he takes off. Stay smooth and use your eyes, this exercise is about planning ahead.
Lead Finder: Great exercise for those that struggle with knowing which lead you’re on. Better if these are cavaletti than poles. Distances can be a quiet 3 or 4 strides between the first two poles (42/44 ft or 54/56 ft). The curving distances to either side can be whatever you like it to be, just base it on a 11-12 foot canter stride, and allow 3-4 feet landing and takeoff (for cavaletti sized jumps, need 6 feet take off and landing for 90cm and above sized jumps)
Bending Bounce Massacre – this is for experienced combinations only. It requires plenty of preparation and correct aids at the correct time. Make sure you are using your leg and rein aids properly and not leaning to show the horse where to go. Slow canter in, distance between the centre of each pole/cavaletti is 9-10 feet.
Figure 8 Bouncy house aka The magic square: Great exercise to start to teach your horse flying changes, or practice the changes without leaning and remaining as straight as possible. It gives the horse 2 chances to change it lead, usually they will change in front over the first pole and behind over the second pole. These need to be about 11-12 feet apart, which will make a perfect square if you have 12 feet poles, if not, you will have just a small gap between the ends. Remember to start changes the bend as you approach the first pole and “ask” with your legs gently as you pop over the first poleand keep your legs there while cantering over the second. Don’t speed up, let the poles do the work and the horse think about what is happening. You need to canter straight through the square, and not lean and cut corners, ensuring that you use your leg and rein aids properly.
Across the Center: No particular distance required here, it will help improve your eye and make you maintain a smooth rhythm to get nice balanced corners and remain straight after the pole. Inside leg here with this one guys!
The serpentine can be placed at whatever distance you find challenging enough, probably 20m between the center of each pole is a good starting point. These can be poles on the ground or cavaletti, or jumps. Use your eyes to help get your body in the correct position before each pole (look ahead to the next pole) have your legs in the correct position and horse focused and bending in the direction you are about to turn. Can you do this one smoothly each direction.
TIP: Most of these exercise will highlight your horses stiff side (the side they fall in on) and their hollow side (the side they bulge on) so they should start to get you thinking about counteracting them maybe with more inside leg, or perhaps straightening with the outside rein and leg.
All of these exercise are for canter, but are great group exercises and most can be used for walk/trotters as well. (not bounces massacre though).

Something to think about over the winter

We all know the importance of getting the correct canter established for our jumping, but sometimes it’s easier to understand why if you can see the whole process broken down into bite size chunks. Watch this clever video to get an idea of the effect of the canter stride on the approaching jump.

Lose your boots and kick up your heels

With the autumn league behind us we can all look forward to having a good fling at the north west riding clubs dinner dance tomorrow night. Unfortunately we don’t have any footage of the first dance we enjoyed at the Silver Tassie, but I think you’ll enjoy this snippet from a couple of years ago at the Station House hotel.

Ticket sales have gone well, the DJ is booked and the hotel has braced itself. Bring on the fun.

If you are a last minute shopper, like myself, you should be safe enough giving Louise or Hazel a bell to book your tickets for collection at the door. Dress code for the dance has been described in the past as ‘make an effort’!

The finale was grand

Sunday 26th saw the Donegal Gaelteacht club hosting the final of the autumn league at Templemore. The day saw it’s share of thrills and inevitable spills as riders fought it out for final placings. Results of the final leg  are as follows

league final

Letterkenny’s strength at the higher grades is tempered by a shortage of our members taking part at the lower grades but Hazel, Kerrie and Louise are certainly great flagbearers in the AP grade. Top marks for determination must go to Suzanne, who persevered with Jack and got his performance realigned for the final. Despite being one of the final day spills (which was in itself quite thrilling!) Enda had bagged enough points in the earlier legs to claim 6th place in the overall league placings.

autumn league1

autumn league2