Wonderful support from Letterkenny and Donegal Gaeltacht riding clubs combined with sizeable troops from the East Donegal and North West pony clubs ensured a memorable ride-out on a brilliantly sunny day in the Finn valley.
Denis and his family gave a masterful display of car park management, successfully accommodating both the insurance demands of the pony club and riding club authorities as well as the significant number of lorries and trailers. A very hospitable welcome and warm drinks primed everybody perfectly for the punctual departure. The riding club members took the lead with the pony club posse bringing up the rear after a 15 minute interval. Mick drove the first-aid-mobile, ready to jump into the breach for any human or equine casualty. (Happily he had an uneventful journey.)
A steep climb south up a picturesque little road brought the riders out onto a high plateau with spectacular views south west across Barnesmore Gap and north, south and east over Derry and Tyrone. Continuing the ascent, Enda and Teldel led a calm and graceful canter on a long uphill track, the civilised pace ensuring a safe passage for even the most canter-wary of riders.
After a stretch through woodland, Denis’s family conjured up roadside refreshments at a scenic stop and everybody took a breather. The energetic walk back to base gave everybody the opportunity to catch up on friendships, old and new. Leo and Denis accelerated their pace on Cool and Davy Arthur to get back and get their aprons on while the guests hacked home at a leisurely pace.
The yard at Denis’s house was lit up by the appearance of Gemma, looking great and in fine form. Leo slaved behind a hot grill producing great volumes of burgers and hot dogs, with an endless array of salads and side dishes served up beside the communal tables. The whole entourage settled down to a most enjoyable meal, rounded off by a dessert table which stole the show.
It was a wonderful gathering of friends. What a pleasure to be out on a horse on such a lovely day with such enjoyable company in support of a very, very worthy cause. Huge thanks to Denis and Leo and their families for orchestrating the whole event with such calm and friendly professionalism. It all seemed easy but that was only because the preparation was so good.
Pictured below: Leo hard at work for a great cause. More pictures in the Gallery. There were plenty of cameras in action at the event so hopefully plenty more shots will emerge.