Long overdue news round-up!

Four weeks is a long time to catch up on in riding club life but we’ll give it our best shot with a compendium of snippets and reports from all directions!

The biggest news on the people front is that John and Sharon finally tied the knot in early November. They chose a lovely spot in Rathmullan House and celebrated in intimate style with family and close friends. A select number of riding club members went along on the evening just to keep an eye on things and reported sightings of John in a kilt, surrounded by very happy guests. Many congratulations to you, John and Sharon. You’re a great couple and we wish you a long future of happiness with each other and your children.

Hazel has been a rare sight at riding club events over the past several months as she commuted back to England almost weekly to spend time with her father during his illness. Very sadly, her father died recently and we extend our deepest sympathy to both Hazel and Don.

The most remarkable news on the people front is that Jenny is now the proud owner of a mobile phone. If proof were ever needed that life is full of surprises, this is surely it! Jenny, we hope you enjoy your arrival in the age of texting and voice messages. You’ve surrendered your independence forever now!

Riding activity has been focussed largely on the North West Autumn League but before we get to that in detail, let’s not forget the flatwork evening at Glenleary Stables with instruction from the inimitable Mary Finneran. Louise was responsible for the evening’s action and she mustered sufficient numbers to create a competitive games session. For those of you who are not familiar with mounted games in a flatwork lesson, don’t miss the next opportunity to try it. There’s nothing as suitable for making you use all your aids correctly and efficiently than a bit of competition and a few demands on the athletic front. Both riders and horses enjoyed the session thoroughly and left with broad smiles on their faces.

Rachel’s Tuesday Club continues quietly with Maura, Cyril and Eweline making steady progress. A communications failure left Maura with a one-on-one session last week and she made the most of the individual tuition to take the mighty leap to canter with Bonzo. A great achievement!

The North West Autumn League was the usual welcome return to Templemore and the tried and tested format of competitive classes interspersed with training rounds. There was an excellent turn-out at the first two legs, with a surprisingly quiet day at the final. As always, clashes with the hunting calendar are inevitable and for several members from all the Donegal clubs, the seasonal call of the hunting horn is simply irresistible. (Ask the horses their view on that particular subject…)

It was a quiet enough league for Letterkenny but several members did exceptionally well and were proud recipients of rosettes and prizes on the night of the dinner dance. Eweline beamed from ear to ear as she received her glorious blue rosette for the cross poles division —  a particular sweet honour since she and Gordon have only recently taken up jumping. At Advance Primary level it was left to Enda to grasp a rosette as his new partnership with Jenny blossomed.

Anne Chambers put in her usual game effort at the highly competitive Intermediate level and was rewarded with a ribbon. So too was Tanya who enjoyed her return to 90cm fences with Al. And at Advanced Intermediate our club really took the limelight. In an inspired move designed to get herself and Molly out of a deepening rut, Nadine took over the ride on Millie for the league, leaving Damien to partner Molly. The initiative bore fruit for all parties. Nadine thoroughly enjoyed herself on the ongoing Millie and readily claimed the red rosette for the league division as well as being crowned overall leading rider. Damien did great work with Molly only to be denied a third outing with her as she took a sick day for the final. With Armstrong as a B string in the yard, that fortunately wasn’t a disaster and Damien made the third spot in the league. His tie at the dinner dance was carefully chosen to match his yellow rosette. No such sartorial flair was shown by Cormac who divided the two Gallaghers in taking second place. None of that mattered however when Cormac claimed all the glory for his victorious Horsey Oscar nomination at the Dinner Dance. Well done Cormac!

And so to the dinner dance itself. Little needs to be said: If you were there on the night, you know just what a brilliant event it was (and if you missed it, we don’t want to make you jealous). There was a great turnout from Letterkenny and we all thoroughly enjoyed a night of mighty craic with a big crowd of good friends. Thank you, Donegal Riding Clubs, for such a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and friendship. And thanks very particularly to Ruth and Rachael who did such a magnificent and characteristically understated job of organising the entire event. We really appreciate your effort and your great sense of humour.

And that just about sums things up. Hopefully news will be a little more regular from here on as we all look forward to the coming festive season and enjoyable action on the club front. Jiving classes have been suggested…