As the rain pelted down on jeeps and trailers on Friday evening, the prospects of finding much fun in a big field in Castleshanaghan looked pretty bleak. As soon as Francis appeared, all of that changed. The first bit of entertainment was provided by the master himself as he manoeuvred his trusty wagon up the grassy slope of Audrey’s pristine field. The silver Volkswagon played along gamely and eventually the most precious load of the evening arrived safely alongside its waiting playmates.
The rain started to ease as the colourful course was constructed and, by the time the horses were unloaded, it had disappeared entirely. Eight riders and five willing horses made up two teams for an evening of concentration, frustration, excitement, gamesmanship, world-class cheating, and — just as it said on the tin — fun. The “training” session was book-ended by exhilarating canters in the freedom of the farm’s extensive fields.
With everything cleared away the group was shuttled to the house where Audrey and Cecil’s excellent hospitality was further enhanced by Maeve Rafferty’s first class brownies. By departure time, the rain was coming down again in buckets.
A huge thanks to Francis for providing the best of fun, to Audrey and Cecil for the hospitality and the freedom of the fields, and to the high-spirited members who turned out despite the weather and proved yet again that fortune favours the brave.
Below: The all important cargo arrives in time for the evenings’ sport. More photos in the Gallery.