A quiet time ahead

Our regional zoom meeting was a quick affair and very well attended, with some new faces on the screen too. Obviously the lock-down measures are hitting events hard and the difficult decision was made to shelve the 2021 Spring League due to the unpredictability of the coming weeks and months. As soon as restrictions permit it the region will hold a training show to allow us all a low-key reintroduction to the arena. No doubt a number of horses (and their riders) are far from fit at the moment and it was felt that a training show would be more welcome than a competition.

A lot of talk about horses and road safety is occurring at various levels at the moment. Lawrence Smyth is pursuing the issue with a contact he has at the RSA, and the general feeling is that a major nationwide awareness campaign needs to be put in motion. Some of you may have seen the questionnaire that was on the AIRC website before Christmas and hopefully may have taken the time to fill it out and provide the riders-eye-view of the situation on the roads around us. Making the equine-community heard at government level is the only way that changes will be made in our favour and Lawrence has undertaken to pursue the issue as far as he can.

As some of you are aware Erica has been snowed under for the past few weeks with family life, and a bereavement to boot. She’s back in harness now and will be working on our club affiliation, and ironing out some glitches on the itsplainsailing website, over the next few days. Our own club meeting has been pushed back to February 5th to allow for any government announcements to be made at the end of January. Needless to say itwill be a zoom meeting and the link will be sent out closer to the time.

Patience. A much appreciated virtue.

Somewhere on the WordPress.com site there is an option which allows you to shelve your website until you have made all the changes you want and feel that the new and improved version is ready for the world. I know this because I noticed it late last night, just before shutting down the laptop. Unfortunately I cant find it today, so I will just have to settle for giving you my apologies for the multitudinous versions which keep popping up. I promise I am slowly getting to grips with it. It only took me from 8pm yesterday till 1pm today to work out how to create a drop-down menu for the Gallery page…thank God for Covid lockdowns coinciding with annual leave. The Gallery photos are one of the best parts of the site. The good times they recall really are what riding club is all about and I hope that I can keep this section up to date in the future.

I’ve managed to add in the link to our membership renewal forms on the Join Us page. I realise that with the level five lock-down keeping us firmly in our place at the moment it might be hard to motivate yourselves to get memberships in but, as we discovered in 2020, when the restrictions are eased (which they will be eventually) events and competitions occur very quickly and it will certainly help if you have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed early in the year. Remember that membership cards are not being issued this year unless a member specifically orders one. The AIRC has produced an App for download. Find details here

This is also the time to make sure your four legged partner is ready to rock when things kick off again. Some riders have changed mounts over the past year and may need to register their new horse with headquarters. There is no charge for this if it is done before April 1st. Many horses are already registered with the AIRC and if your new mount is on the list already you are not obliged to update the ownership details. Vaccinations are another area liable to lapsing when the world is shut down. Check that your horse is up to date with theirs. If you need further info on passports or AIRC registration follow the following link

Changes afoot following positive AGM

We had a most enjoyable Zoom AGM on Friday evening, with half of the club in attendance, albeit in the background in some cases, and a couple of apologies sent in to account for more of the membership. The chairperson’s report had been sent out to everyone in advance of the meeting, allowing plenty of time for people to have a read through it at their leisure. Cormac followed it up with a brief treasurers report, there having been very few transactions this year. Refunds are ongoing via the Itsplainsailing site for our defunct Team Challenge/Derby Show and the final accounts will be available when they have gone through.

Having put in such a strange and unusual year the current committee were glad to stand down after giving their reports but their respite was short lived as one by one they got re-elected to their former posts, with a couple of very minor tweaks. With the ‘new’ committee in place the discussion turned to the future and a number of points were agreed.

The club will change from using the Facebook Messenger group for official communications as not all people use Facebook. A new WhatsApp group has been formed, including all current members, and this group will run till 31st January 2021. At that time the group will be deleted and a new group will be formed for the 2021 membership. The Facebook Messenger group will still be there for anyone wishing to use it for a social get-together but any club discussions or notifications will be carried out via WhatsApp.

Club members expressed a strong desire to receive a list of club members and their contact details, in order to feel more connected, especially in these times of distancing. To this end our membership form will be updated to include a “permission to share contact details with club members” in order to keep us on the right side of GDPR legislation. The necessity to stay on the right side of these laws is another reason to delete the past years WhatsApp group each January and start anew.

I also intend to revamp the website and drag it kicking and screaming into modernity, but as I am not remotely tech savvy it will take me no small amount of time…probably a job for the Christmas holidays.

Membership fees remain unchanged apart from the fact that we are passing on the discount head-quarters is offering for renewals. Whilst our fees are slightly higher than some clubs it means we have a small financial buffer to help bolster events and lessons that don’t cover themselves, and also means we don’t need to fundraise. This means our 2021 membership fees will be as follows

E100 new riding member

E85 renewal for riding member

E40 non-riding member

Our next official gathering is the North West Riding Clubs AGM on Monday 23rd of November (via Zoom needless to say)

The first Letterkenny Riding Club meeting of 2021 will take place on Friday 22nd of January. Format to be confirmed closer to the time.

Deja Vu

It really is rather soul destroying to once again have to deal with cancelling or postponing events and limiting travel to necessity. With excellent entries from our neighboring clubs, fantastic prizes piled in Suzanne’s car and the weather Gods on our side, the whole day was promising to be a truly wonderful tribute to two ladies who’d both have been at the head of the posse when it came to getting stuck in to the fun of the event. But needs must when the devil drives so our hope is to run the show on November 29th instead. The autumn league will be over (always assuming it gets going in the first place) and as our annual dinner dance will be a non-event this year by the looks of things, it will be a great finale to November to look forward to. At any rate that’s the plan!!

Most importantly do please keep yourselves and your loved ones safe in these difficult times. We need you back in the saddle and back in the ring as soon as they open. I bet these two would have been the first two back at a club outing.

Flowerhill delivers on the day

Going to the AIRC national hunter trial championships is always a treat, but getting to go to it this year amid all the uncertainty of events occurring was even sweeter. Just three competitors and two heroic grooms made the journey to Flowerhill Equestrian Centre this year but with all three riders taking home rosettes (or perhaps I should say taking home the promise of a rosette, as there was no prize-giving on the day) I think its safe to say that Letterkenny can hold its head high and the club retains its very noble record at this competition.

Starting the day for the club was Suzanne aboard Dubai Flyer. This combination paired up with the Donegal Gaeltachts Liz Potter, on Clyde, to tackle the advanced-primary pairs course. Flawless jumping and a steady pace resulted in the pair finishing 23 seconds off the optimum time of 6’0, giving them 13 time penalties and zero jumping penalties. This was good enough for fourth place and gave Suzanne’s green mount an excellent school before she headed out again in the advanced-primary championship. With the optimum time reduced to 5’42 Suzanne’s careful approach netted her 70 time penalties but once again a foot perfect exhibition of jumping left both horse and rider brimming with confidence and hungry for next year.

The way was clear now for Rachel on the typically spooky and psychotic Merlin to pair up with Anne aboard Condor’s Lucky Star for the Intermediate pairs competition. Both riders are previous winners at the Intermediate level, with Rachel having nailed the optimum time in the championship in 2018 on Merlin while Anne and partner Keary bagged the pairs competition away back in 2014. For the first time in his life Merlin was given the job of lead-horse. A Saturday evening schooling session had taught Anne the folly of getting too close. Having winched poor Star out of Merlins nether region a couple of times she knew that auto-stop would engage before the first few jumps! A Saturday evening paddle had reassured Star that there were no sharks in the the Flowerhill puddles and as a result the pair were able to execute a round which if not flawless was certainly faultless. One extremely close call at the first water obstacle, which saw Anne wishing Star had a longer neck, and a minor disagreement between Rachel and Merlin regarding the best route to take back to the stables (we all know how bad men are when it comes to following route directions) saw them finish just two seconds off the optimum time of 5’36 and nailing the second spot for the club.

Both riders headed out for the championship class brimming with confidence and determined to enjoy the second spin around. With all the jumps tested and proven safe the horses were all business and, as befitted steeds sired by a Condor, they flew around the course at breakneck speed. With Anne finishing on 23 time faults and Rachel on 28 its safe to say they both enjoyed the high speed run.

Apologies for the dodgy video quality. More photos to follow.

Sand and sun make for a successful day

Top marks must go to Donegal Gaeltacht riding club for their running of their annual beach show last Sunday. Weather on the Saturday night was appalling, with gales and torrential rain battering Ballyness Bay and it’s environs, not least of all the Killult yard of Lawrence and Rosaleen Smyths where Jayne, Rachel and their intrepid mounts spent the night. Rain ceased around 5am and despite a mild but very strong on-shore wind necessitating the use of every available sandbag in the place, the show enjoyed sunshine and blue skies. The rewards for driving to the remote bay were plentiful as Letterkenny’s five riders took home no less than three wins, a second and two thirds. Club performance of the day has to have been Francis on his lovely new mount Kerrykeel Darcy. This combination made light work of their first showjumping course and went on to win the intermediate dressage. Definitely ones to watch in the future. Full results are available below.

This coming Sunday sees Suzanne, Anne and Rachel head south to Flowerhill Equestrian Centre for the national hunter-trial championships. I’m afraid the rest of the club will have to refrain from attending to cheer them on as attendance at the AIRC National Hunter Trials Championships is restricted to competitors, their nominated assistant or grooms and event officials. This is necessary in order to comply with current Covid-19 regulations which permit up to 200 people to attend an outdoor event at this time.

Riders must complete the Contact Tracing self-declaration form by 5pm on Thursday at the latest.  Their nominated assistant must also complete the online form as well.  Details have been emailed to competitors already.

No one else will be permitted entry to the venue and stewards will be at the main entrance to ensure this is enforced. Those attending are asked to wear face coverings/masks and to social distance.

Competitors are asked to Arrive, Compete and Leave.

Good luck everyone

Whilst the weather forecast for this weekend’s beach show in Falcarragh may have deteriorated somewhat the event will still fulfill that most important of services…a sociable outing. The six riders from our own club who are competing will be taking on the cream of the crop from six other clubs, namely Donegal Gaeltacht, Inishowen, Stracomer, Tirconaill, BenBulben and Tonabrockey. Best of luck to everyone.

A free weekend? Never!!

Having had so much free time on our hands throughout the spring and early summer I think it’s safe to say we’re all grabbing any opportunity we see to get out and come together for club outings now that the competitive world is up and running again. The calendar of outings in the North West and western regions has filled up nicely now with the addition of Benbulben’s show on the 4th of October at Tubberbride. Boasting show-jumping, dressage and novelty derby classes this should be a very enjoyable day and well worth the wee drive to get there. As with all events these days pre-entry is essential and can be done on


Entries close on Wednesday 30th September.

The immediate future is looking like the following

Sun 13th September Donegal Gaeltachts Beach Show

Sun 20th Sep National Hunter Trial Chamionships

Sun 27th Sep Audrey Jacob and Orla O’Reilly Show

Sun 4th Oct Benbulben’s Autumn Show

Sat 10th/Sun 11th Oct Camping trip to Mona and Charlie’s

Sun 18th NWRC autumn league Greenacres

Sun 25th Oct NWRC autumn league Templemore

Sun 1st Nov – currently free!! Get the Christmas shopping done.

Sun 8th Nov NWRC autumn league Greenacres

Sun 15th Nov – Currently free

Sun 22nd Nov NWRC autumn league finals Templemore

Sat 28th Nov – Dance around your kitchen table whilst necking a bottle of your favourite and reminiscing with yourself about past dinner dances.


Bring on the autumn

Anyone who was involved in the hunter trials held today at Gordan’s Bay Equestrian would have to agree that the organizers did a stellar job of laying out three courses of truly testing jumps and ensured that the ground was in excellent condition, and that was no mean feat given the weather we’ve had recently. Miraculously the sun shone from start to finish and a light breeze dried up the ground enough to allow even a very non-4WD transit to drive around the car parking field and get out without a tow! It was a most sociable day and there was a great turnout of past, present and future club members. Of course in some cases the past and the future members are the one group, isn’t that right Hazel and Louise??

Next weekend brings the Donegal Gaeltacht’s Beach Show at Ballyness Bay, Falcarragh. This truly is one of the exceptional venues in the country and anyone who attends will vouch for how relaxing a day it is, with miles of dunes and beach to allow competitors to chill out and unwind both before and after their competitions. Some of our club are making a weekend of it, with stabling being supplied by Trish Warren on the Saturday night and the promise of a leisurely hack on the Saturday afternoon adding an additional bonus to the weekend. If anyone wants to come along for the night’s camping, even if they aren’t competeing, please Rachel or Erica know as soon as possible so that we can sort you out.

Having spoken today to Oliver Walsh, of Flowerhill Equestrian Centre, I can tell you all that he swears the National Hunter Trials will be going ahead barring a hurricane in the preceding days. Fingers and toes crossed for balmy weather from now to then. Whether the hunter trial championships go ahead or not remains to be seen but autumn certainly promises to be a busy time, especially as our own show is rapidly approaching on the 27th of September. Check out the poster below and watch this space for further details.