Non-stop riding club activity for coming months

Last week’s club meeting painted a very rich picture of competitive and non-competitive activity for members — most of it on our doorstep. It’s difficult to find space for our regular Friday activities in a calendar over-flowing with shows and events. In summery, this is what we have to look forward to:

National Hunter Trials, Gurteen College
Seven or eight members have set their sights on the AIRC National Hunter Trials at Gurteen College on Sunday 14 April. Foot soldiers are guaranteed a good time at the event and last year the club had a mighty band of non-riding supporters cheering our (very successful) competitors home. Finding schooling opportunities before the event is always somewhat tricky. Mona of Tirconaill has organised a session at Castle Leslie on Saturday 6 April and, weather permitting, competitors will also have an opportunity to school over Gabriel’s course closer to home.

Northwest Team Challenge — Show Jumping & Dressage
The pride of the club will be at stake on Sunday 28 April as we take on our friends and rivals from neighbouring clubs in both show jumping and dressage team challenges. Our aim is to field as many teams as possible on the day. You can choose to do either dressage or show jumping or — better still — both. Rules for the Challenge will be finalised shortly. Vera will coordinate the dressage teams and Francis will do the same for the show jumpers. Entries will need to be made in advance of the big day.

Derby & Dressage Show
John, Rachel and Louise made the mistake of not attending the meeting and landed themselves the job of coordinating our Derby & Dressage show on Sunday 12 May at Hillsborough Farm. They will schedule a meeting to organise manoeuvres in advance. Course building and general prep will take place on Friday 10 May. We’ve made a club decision to buy rustic and white poles in an effort to improve the “derby” character of the event. We hope to have a really good entry at the show so make sure your horse is fit and you clear your calendar of all other commitments! We need members riding — we’re not short of help on the ground! A derby is a very achievable competition. The course is longer than a standard jumping course and about half of the fences will have a natural or rustic character. You’ll find your horse loves it and the exhilaration of jumping on grass is unbeatable.

Regional Dressage Qualifier
Vera is coordinating the club effort to field a team at the regional team dressage qualifier at Dalysgrove near Ballinasloe on Sunday 19 May. A strong cohort of committed riders including Claire Kelly, Hazel, Vera and Anne Chambers plan to make the event. It’s a very long journey for a qualifier and their commitment is admirable. Anybody who’s interested in joining this group should contact Vera.

Team Show Jumping Qualifier
The RDS qualifier takes place at Kerins’s in Collooney, just short of Sligo, on Sunday 26 May. The tension and excitement of this competition is unique. Last year we didn’t field a team but this year it looks like we have plenty of candidates and barrowloads of enthusiasm. Contact Francis as early as possible, if you’re interested in competing. We’re entitled to enter two teams and further teams are possible at the discretion of the organisers.

Beach Show
The June Bank Holiday weekend brings one of the highlights of the year — the Gaeltacht’s Beach Show. Say no more. Don’t miss it.

Riding Clubs Festival, Stradbally
Last year nobody from the club travelled to the Festival. This year Libby hopes to make the journey and maybe one or two others will also head for the largest amateur riding event in the land. Entries close far in advance of the show so keep an eye on the AIRC site, if you are thinking of going on the adventure. The Festival features a vast range of dressage, showing and show jumping classes.

Inishowen Riding Club Show
Good for Inishowen: barely six months out of the blocks and they’re jumping in at the deep end with a show on Sunday 16 June. Make a huge effort to get out and support them. Our experience could be a great help to them and there’s probably lots we can do to help them out with the running of the event.

As a respite from the competitive side of life, we have ride-outs planned in different parts of our territory. Anne, Leo and Hazel will guide us along routes ranging from Burt to Stranorlar to Kilmacrennan. There’s nothing nicer than ending the week with a sociable ride-out on our long spring and summer evenings. Note that riders are now going to contribute €5 on each ride-out evening. This will help support the occasional tuition evenings where numbers are too low to cover costs and allow us to continue our flat rate €15 price for lessons.

Cross country evenings
June will see us out for some informal cross country schooling on Friday evenings. We hope to visit Audrey and Tanya in Castleshanaghan and Marina and Enda in St Johnston. You don’t even have to like jumping for these sessions — you might be just as happy riding around the big fields and enjoying the open country on the flat. Your horse will certainly love it!

So, no shortage of activity and events over the coming months. Make sure you get out and make the most of it all. Let’s hope the weather plays along!