When We Were Young(er)


Orla
Orla has been rubbing shoulders with some of our fine Irish elite equestrian athletes since her earliest days. This photo was taken at an early point in Orla’s life but also at a significant point in the development of one of the Omard breeding lines. Orla describes the significance of the foal:

“Here’s me back in the day. Safari Queen, the foal in the photo, is the grand dam of KEC Alligator Alley currently jumping at 5* international level with Cian O’Connor and also of OBOS O’Reilly eventing with Will Coleman in America, Omard Cavalier jumped at Grand Prix level here with Nicola FitzGibbon, Omard Quality currently jumping 1.35 with Alexander Butler, Annaghmore Ustina winner RDS Dublin 4yo Qualifier, The Meadows with Catherine Thornton and many more.”

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Paddy

Paddy had a love of equids from an early age. Here he is helping his aunt drive the donkey and cart, with his sister Bridie beside him. You can just glimpse his brother hanging on for dear life behind young Master Gallagher.

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Paddy grows up…  What a great passport photo!

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On the hunting field…

Now looking even more dashing with a flamboyant moustache! Here Paddy is accompanied by Willie Lapsley at a meet of the Route Hunt near Castlefinn. Lizzie’s predecessor illustrates that Paddy has had an eye for a nice horse for quite some time. That well-known blue silk has been around for a while!

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Libby, 1980

Fancy dress at Rathmullan Gymkhana. The weather in 1980 must have been a bit like 2011! It’s a pity the photographer didn’t manage to capture the wellies that Bess was wearing — they were the winning touch.

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Sharon, 1992

The top photo was taken the day that Sharon Lee learned that Popcorn was her own. The 14.2hh palomino mare was particularly partial to being dressed up — a delight shared by her new owner.

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Rachel, 1981

Rachel set the standard for her future equestrian career at an early age. Here she is immaculately turned out wearing Libby’s hand-me-down confirmation jacket and her father’s red tie. Who knows where the shirt came from!

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Anne on Tina’s Pet, Geesala Races, County Mayo

We come to the riding club along diverse routes — one of them is flapping. Several of our members cut their competitive teeth in the cut and thrust of this unique brand of non-Turf-Club-sanctioned horse and pony racing. Anne was one of those who enjoyed the thrills and spills of the flapping circuit in her earlier life. These photos show one of her racing days at the spectacular Geesala meeting on the strand in Mayo where she rode Tina’s Pet to victory. To get an impression of the magical setting, check out this flickr page.

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Audrey’s early breeding days — with her Dad, Penny and Judy

Audrey and Rosemary — on Amy and Copper. Comfortable riding bareback in those days since there were no saddles about! And who could have guessed that there was a safety conscious brain lurking beneath those free flowing locks!

Bareback again and still no hat…


And then came Tanya – she learned to ride on this donkey.


She turned her nose up at dolls from the word go…


…but she took to horses like a duck to water.

Audrey still wonders how Tanya survived to adulthood but she already looks like a professional here with Amy, the day before she foaled.

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Tanya’s first pony club gymkhana

Tanya started her competitive career with red rosettes and things haven’t changed much since. Here she is on her first pony, Molly, at her first pony club gymkhana at McKean’s Farm. When Tanya graduated from Molly to Lancelot, Molly produced a lovely piebald foal that we now, at 6 years of age, know as Jack.

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Nadine & Molly, The Giant’s Teeth, Border Counties ODE, 2008

This lovely footage was taken when Nadine was just a little bit younger, in 2008. It was her first one-day event and it was all going perfectly until… Well, you just had to be there to understand — that little squeak of desperation from Damien says it all!

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Libby & Tommy Go Racing, 1976

“We moved to Rathmullan in 1975 having spent one year in Welchtown, near Ballybofey, en route from Kildare where I was born. I had never had anything to do with ponies—let alone racing—when I lived in the racing county but somehow it didn’t take me very long to stumble across the flapping when I hit the ground in Donegal. This local pony race was held at a flap on The Flats, land belonging to the Morrissons up the Glen Road from the Kinnegar.”

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Nadine didn’t have a pony when she was a youngster but she has got
this photo of her first riding lesson in 2005!

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Rachel, well known Pony Express rider, Raphoe Show, 1978.
The pony is Silver — he was one of the begged or borrowed ponies that Rachel began her career on. The Cartons started that habit early in life.

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Young Francis with his sister. Presumably he still remembers the name of his sister but he has no idea what that fine mare was called. Horses were two-a-penny in the McNicholl family!

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Libby & Tommy Go Hunting, 1977

“The Strabane & Donegal Hunt met at Ray Bridge, 4 miles from our house in Rathmullan. Tommy was my first (and only) pony and we hacked to the meet, always arriving far, far too early. Hands were frozen by the time everything got going and my feet were riddled with chilblains in those beautifully polished wellies. I can only remember the first three or four fields of the hunt but I don’t think I fell off so who knows what became of me. Tommy certainly bolted and he then very probably rooted himself to some spot and refused to continue. He gave the word stubborn a whole new meaning.

That’s my friend Sally helping me out. She and her twin boys are now taking lessons at Glenleary and hopefully one of these days we’ll get her into the club.

The orange numnah was my first ever horsey Christmas present from my thoroughly un-horsey parents. A towel did the job on less special days (see below in 1976). How they ever hit upon the idea of a numnah remains a mystery to me — I had never heard of one.”

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