Category Archives: Flatwork

Flatwork lessons with Mary Finneran, Fridays 23+30 May and 6 June

Hazel is kindly organising a series of flatwork lessons with Mary Finneran at Glenleary, kicking off this Friday evening and continuing for three weeks. It’s a great opportunity to tweak riding techniques and sharpen up for the coming series of dressage competitions.

Contact Hazel on 087 746 6431 if you’d like to participate.

Pictured below: Denis working hard at a lesson at Glenleary in 2012.


Flatwork and cross country opportunities for St Patrick’s weekend

Last Friday’s flatwork lesson with Mary Finneran proved a great success once again. There’s a quiet concentration and a focus on detail which lends the classes a particular atmosphere and the sense of achievement at the end of the evening is palpable. If numbers suffice at this bank holiday weekend, we’ll proceed with our next lesson on Friday evening. Contact Vera if you plan to attend.

On Saturday morning our cross country enthusiasts head for Castle Leslie where half the course has been reopened thanks to this week’s fair weather. Precise arrangements are still being firmed up but the provisional plan is to meet there at 10.30am. Contact Libby on 086 830 1392, if you’re interested in joining in. Neighbouring club members are welcome to join us.

Focus on details on Friday evening at Glenleary

It was a cold night at Glenleary for the first of Mary’s Friday evening flatwork lessons. Louise, Christopher and Vicky were put through their paces in the first lesson while Nadine, Tanya, Vera and Libby came in for scrutiny in the second. An innocent little bit of warming up gave Mary all the information she needed to zero in on the evening’s theme: correct warming up of both horse and rider.

Using transitions and a simple turn-on-the-forehand exercise she reminded her pupils of some basic principles. She discretely rolled her eyes to heaven as she observed some of the bad habits that had set in over a long, inactive winter before diplomatically making one or two recommendations to each rider. Everybody was sent home with some homework and minds are already focussed on next week’s session.

Flatwork lessons start this Friday at Glenleary

Members have the opportunity over the next several Fridays to brush up on their flatwork skills under the eye of Mary Finneran. There are few instructors who are better able to identify and isolate one or two critical details to a specific horse and rider partnership. Mary doesn’t bombard her pupils with advice — she pinpoints small flaws which, once corrected, can transform the performance of the partnership and greatly increase their mutual pleasure in their work.

Vera is organising the classes at Glenleary on Friday 28 February and 7 and (tbc) 14 March. Contact her by Wednesday on 087 232 5632, if you plan to participate.

Flatwork skills with mini-competition, Friday 21 February *updated again*

Orla is organising an intriguing-sounding evening this Friday, 21 February. The “flatwork skills with mini-competition” kicks off at 7.30pm at Cyril’s in Milford.

Our Friday night focus is switching to flatwork for a while and Vera is organising sessions from next Friday with Mary Finneran at Glenleary. Orla has kindly stepped into the breach for this week. Her current passion is Trec so she’s putting a particular twist on the flatwork session. Anybody who has ever tried it — either a Francis Special or a Donegal Trec version — knows that flatwork skills are of paramount importance to the activity. A bit like mounted games, we end up riding our horses well without realising it, so intent are we on overcoming the challenge at hand. There’s probably more good leg-yielding and perfect serpentines ridden on an obstacle course than in most of our sand arenas.

In her own words, Orla promises a “versatile trec session which combines dressage and trec skills”. Contact her on 087 643 2458, if you plan to participate.

Reminder: Book your place for regional training day!

Remember that you need to book your place with Anne this week for the regional training day on Sunday 28 July. It’s a wonderful opportunity to benefit from top class tuition at a really excellent venue.

Connecting horse and rider at Glenleary

Friday evening’s session at Glenleary was conducted in Mediterranean conditions but both riders and horses put in maximum effort to make best use of Mary’s tuition time. Tanya in particular really enjoyed this series of lessons. She put it very well when she said that, whatever it is about Mary, she can get rider and horse communicating to the best of their ability by the end of the session. She had them submitting to each other which resulted in a lovely outline and a relaxed horse.

Pictured below: The hardcore members who spent Friday evening at Glenleary instead of heading for the beach.

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Flatwork lessons with Mary Finneran

This Friday sees the first in a series of flatwork lessons with Mary Finneran at Glenleary. Many of us are glad to relax slightly after the high point of the Derby last weekend but it’s nice to keep things ticking over with a lesson now and again so that there’s no mad panic before the next competition.

Mary’s classes will cater for all levels of riders from novice to advanced. Book with Nadine on 087 933 7854 if you wish to participate.

Pictured below: Cyril, Denis and Sally enjoy flatwork exercises with Mary, August 2012.

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Flatwork lessons focus on fundamentals

Mary Devine’s flatwork lessons would be of great benefit to any rider, not just those thinking of forthcoming dressage tests. On Friday night her focus was on the horses’ way of going, concentrating specifically on encouraging them to flex and bend and use their bodies fully. She emphasised the importance of building up their muscle and athletic ability gradually.

Mary described rhythm and tempo and cadence as somebody else might describe making a cup of tea — as details that should be permanently in our minds in our everyday approach to riding. Of course it’s all more easily said than done and even the simplest of shoulder-in and leg-yielding exercises prove a challenge to those who don’t school on a regular basis!

Mary’s final lesson takes place on Friday next, 26 April, and she will use it to drill her pupils a little on their team challenge tests. Book with Vera if you’re interested in joining in.

Pictured below: Hazel, Paddy and Leo performing as the Grey Ride for the first lesson on Friday evening. (They were followed by the Bay Ride with Nadine, Vera and Libby.)

Trio on Diagonal



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!