The weather was every bit as bad as anticipated but the shelter of Eglinton’s covered arenas allowed everybody enjoy our Spring League Show. 60th, 80th and 18th birthdays, first communion celebrations and all sorts of other seasonal events contrived to keep entries on the low side but this had little impact on the atmosphere. Wherever the three Donegal riding clubs are gathered together, there shalt be fun and excitement.
The level of enthusiasm for dressage was remarkable and a large number of riders risked being poured on to put their flatwork to the test in sloppy conditions under Jackie McPherson’s scrutiny. The rain held off for periods and there’s no record of anybody having had to reach for the dry pair of breeches.
Julia O’Neill of the Gaeltachts had a banner day placing first in all three of her classes on Autumn Fayre — the Advanced Primary dressage and show jumping, and the Primary/Advanced Primary Pairs with club mate Carmel Ferry. Marina also kept a clean slate on Jenny (London Jen), winning both the Intermediate dressage and the Advanced Intermediate show jumping classes.
Martina had a great win on Smuggler in the Primary dressage, a class that also saw notable performances from competition novices, Maura and Finbar. With an eye for accessories, Maura won the yellow rosette that best matched Hannah’s striking yellow club numnah.
Entries were low in the Advanced Intermediate category but that took nothing from Tanya’s excellent first and second places in the dressage arena where Al had the upper hand over the newly-back-in-work Jack.
Damien and Libby had a side bet on which of them had ridden the worse test at Intermediate level. Libby came out the winner and she pocketed a fiver while Damien had to make do with a purple rosette for sixth place. To compensate for their spectacularly bad dressage performance, Libby and Mai (Somhairle Red Tiger) pulled out all the stops to win the Intermediate show jumping class with the fastest clear round in a 5-way jump off.
Liz and Judy were another partnership to perform notably better in the jumping ring than the dressage arena and they pulled off a great victory in the Primary show jumping class. Liz was very taken with the smart gilt-edged red cooler she won and considers it rather a shame to give it to a horse!
For the first time ever we didn’t take home a single un-won Open prize. Patricia Warren and Bruce Vial gave each other great competition in both the dressage and show jumping classes at Open level with Patricia coming out on top over the day. Patricia conquered Bruce in the Open Dressage while Bruce took the Open individual show jumping class. But Patricia made it two from three with a great victory in the thrilling closing event, the Intermediate & Above novelty speed class. Bruce took second place with our own Erica and Britney powering their way into third spot.
The only other prize up for grabs at the end of the day was the infamous pig. That trophy will be making its way to the Galway/Roscommon border to live in the cold comfort of Paul Hughes’ new fridge freezer.
It was a typically enjoyable and relaxed event with great friendly rivalry creating the kind of atmosphere that would be the envy of many clubs. A big thank you to everybody who came out to support the show, to Nadine, Damien and Erica for all their hard work in preparing and running the event, to Martina who now has the task of completing the competition paperwork, and to everybody who helped out in any way on the day.
Pictured below: Maura preparing for her dressage test while Orla looks on from her perch on Britney; Julia O’Neill picking up one of her three red rosettes on Autumn Fayre. There are a few more photos in the Gallery but keep your eye on the Gamble Photography website for a proper collection. And check out Bruce Vial’s multi-coloured garlanded bridle in the Gaeltacht’s gallery!