It’s a wrap

At long, long last we succeeded in running our Orla O’Reilly show. After two attempts being ‘covided’ last year we jumped at the first opportunity for a date this year, and our cards came up trumps on Sunday. The weather forecast was blessedly wrong, with the predicted ‘absolute pish of a day’ giving way to glorious sunshine and enough of a cool breeze to stop the dust rising or the sweat dropping. The Torrens family of Greenacres Equestrian Centre had the arenas in superb condition and an army of club members turned up at 9.30 to build jumping courses and set out dressage markers. The Torrens’s stayed on hand for the full day to direct traffic and organise the parking, for which we are very grateful. Competitors started rolling in at 10.00, as did our dressage judge Kyle Richards. Kyle brought his own scribe with him in the shape of fiancee Samantha and we’d like to take this opportunity to wish the pair the best of luck for their wedding next Saturday. May their life together be as good as the dressage arena at our show….not the straightest in the world but nothing we couldn’t work around and laugh about afterwards!

On that note I (Rachel) would like to apologise to everyone who did dressage. As I was the last person to do my test I didn’t realise that one half of the arena had been left a metre short, with the A end of the arena looking rather kinky. Obviously this was deliberately done to vandalise the attempts of accurate riders to perform a good test. In the dressage classes we had a healthy 30 entrants spread over all the grades. Results were as follows


1st Michaella McCrudden LK

2nd Grace Rodgers IN

3rd Alex Coyle ST

Terri Hall ST

Advanced Primary

1st Therese Anderson BB

2nd Victoria Hopkins ST

Beverly Slack ST

4th Laura Diver TC

5th Nicola Coxford IN

6th Suzanne Deeny Wylie LK


1st Lauren McLaughlin IN

2nd Meghan Coxford IN

3rd Lynne Thonpson IN

4th Magdalena Pliczco ST

5th Caroline Shiel TC

6th Lauren McLaughlin IN

Advanced Intermediate

1st Susie Carr BB

2nd Rachel Carton LK

3rd Andrea Gallagher TC

Our judge, Kyle, also had the unenviable task of choosing the person he felt worthy of receiving the Orla O’Reilly memorial shield. This gets awarded to the rider the judge feels exhibits the correct qualities for a riding club rider. Optimism, a willingness to give-it-a-go, sympathetic riding and a desire to try to improve themselves and their mount. Not an easy set of criteria to judge on one viewing but we think Kyle’s decision this year was very appropriate and would like to think that Orla would be delighted to see Beverly Slack go home with the plaque after a very nicely ridden test on her mount, Rainbow Dancer. Kyle commented that the horse worked correctly into both reins, a trait that can only be achieved by correct and sympathetic riding. Orla’s family were on hand, along with her partner Jimmy, to accompany Letterkenny club secretary Erica as she presented the plaque to a delighted Bev…though it is very hard to see the delight under all the masks we wear these days.

Showjumping kicked off at 12pm in the fabulous Jago arena. Patricia Warren had built a very kind, flowing course and avoided any nasty fillers. The result was a great reintroduction to the competitive arena for riders who were far from in-practice after a year on the side lines. We were lucky enough to have a professional photographer on hand in the shape of Longpaw Productions, and anyone who was jumping or doing dressage in the earlier classes can find great pictorial evidence on the Longpaw Productions Facebook page. Personally I’m quite glad the camera had been put to bed by the time I was in the ring! Showjumping results were as follows


1st Nicola Coxford IN

2nd Clodagh Barry IN

3rd Clodagh Brady ST

4th Erica Robb LK

5th Terri Hall ST

6th Grace Rodgers IN


1st Cyndi Graham TC

2nd Charlie Vial TC

3rd Marina Hamilton LK

4th Alicia Clyne ST

5th Lauren McLaughlin IN

6th Eppie Heaney Henderson IN

Advanced Primary

1st Mark Geoghegan LK

2nd Caroline Shiel TC

3rd Finola Murphy BB

4th Lynne Thompson IN

5th Laura Diver TC

6th Kate Geoghegan LK

Advanced Intermediate & Above

1st Meghan Coxford IN

2nd Anne Chambers LK

3rd Mark Ward TC

4th Rachel Carton LK

And so concludes the results of Letterkenny Riding Club’s Orla O’Reilly memorial show 2021. We hope you enjoyed it and went away with a hunger to get out and support more riding club events as they crop up over the year ahead. It truly was a great day, but with so many great people on our side in the heavens we were guaranteed divine help on the day. I’ll leave you with a few sample photos of the day and one last word of thanks to those who helped….Orla, Lawrence and of course Audrey, who will be getting started on the preparations for her own team championship in September.

Dressage times

Please see below the dressage times for our Orla O’Reilly show tomorrow. A million thanks to all who have entered. We cant wait to welcome you all. Please forgive us if the scheduling turns out being completely wrong, its a long time since we had to do this!

Remember to fill out the AIRC covid attendance form if you are attending in any capacity. You’ll get it on the link below.

Entries extended and Primary prizes going abegging.

Entries for our Orla O’Reilly show on Sunday have been ticking along nicely, with entrants coming from as far afield as the Burren riding club. As usual the Intermediate grade is the most competitive, though unusually it is the dressage that has attracted most entries. So far we have no entries for either dressage or jumping at Primary level so if you compete at this grade and have been dithering about getting back into the competitive arena you could chance your arm with a pretty high chance of winning!

The weather on Sunday is forecast to be dry but cool and breezy. Bring an extra layer to ward off any chill and revel in the lack of midges.

The canteen at Greenacres Equestrian will be open, supplying a hot bite as well as the all-important tea and coffee. We’re all so out of practice with this competing lark that its nice not to have to remember the picnic basket on top of everything else.

The deadline for entries has been extended to 8pm on Friday 18th as we appreciate that a lot of riding club members in the North West region have been preoccupied in recent days. Please remember that all covid guidelines will be in effect and we ask all attendees to fill in the following covid-attendance-form, whether they be riding, helping out or just spectating


We look forward to welcoming you all to the first inter-club gathering in a long, long time. Come on out and embrace the AIRC motto of ‘Enjoying Equestrianism’.

It’s all kicking off now

Life truly is ramping up a gear or three, with competitive opportunities appearing daily as venues scramble to get all their covid-related ducks in a row whilst organising events of all types for us lucky riders. First and foremost we have our own Orla O’Reilly memorial show coming up next weekend. The prizes on offer are fantastic and the emphasis is very much on getting out and giving it a go. Jumping courses are promised to be flowing and inviting, with a view to encouraging out-of-practice entrants and an emphasis on building confidence for the rest of the season. Get your entries in and prepare for a sociable and enjoyable day.

Marginally further afield, but of great interest to those who enjoy the buzz of the cross-country course, is the annual 2-phase league being run by the Bellew family of Cloncaw Equestrian near Glaslough. Dates for the Premier Saddlery 2 Phase League starting Sunday 4th July are shown below. An additional date of 22nd August will be confirmed ASAP. Entries will open 20th June for the 4th July.

Our almost neighbors in the Border Counties Riding Club are really covering all bases on the 18th of July as they will be running a One Day Event, Combined Training and 2-Phase competitions at Cloncaw. Full details are to follow but you can whet your appetite by perusing the event poster below.

In a most positive development the powers that be in AIRC HQ have confirmed that the show-jumping championships scheduled for Mullingar Equestrian Centre in July will be going ahead. The Connolly’s RED MILLS Show Jumping Championships take place on Sunday 11th July. There are championship classes for each grade.  Derby competitions and accumulator competitions are also run at the Championships, depending on the member’s show jumping grade.  There is also a class for young horses. The championships last took place in 2019. Check out the full schedule, and remember your horse must be registered with the AIRC if you wish to compete.

Fun in the sun

Our first jumping lessons of the season took place on a balmy Friday evening at Greenacres. Sonya McAleer took us through our paces, with some gentle pole-work to warm us up and a gradual progression to the more challenging and imposing castle. The horses were in flying form, especially Paddy’s Lizzie and Cliff’s Shyla who both obviously enjoyed being back at the jumping. The award for good humored determination definitely goes to Amelia, who successfully popped her distinctly dressage-minded youngster around the short course, with much laughter from all concerned. I’m afraid I only grabbed one quick shot on the evening…we badly need a club photographer again.

This Friday sees us back at Greenacres for another jumping session with Sonya. Book in via the club WhatsApp group.

Suzanne and Anne watching Paddy show how it SHOULD be done!

The superb weather over the weekend has encouraged many of us out and about. Rachel, Anne and Regina joined forces with Tina, Ciara and Emma of the Donegal Gaeltachts to get in some cross-country practice at the superb Dirraw farm. Suzanne had completed the Eventing Ireland course there the previous weekend and had assured everyone that the facilities were in top-notch condition. She was certainly right. This venue truly would be an excellent spot for a club or regional training day.

Up, up and away

Friday saw another enjoyable evening of tutelage at Greenacres under the watchful eye of Mary Devine. The weather was really perfect and all the riders greatly enjoyed the lesson. Rachel had brought samples of sportswear with a view to placing a club order for xc shirts, and Jenny had a box of older club gear available for those who wanted to snaffle a bargain in the beanie, saddlecloth or sweatshirt department. Suzanne was squeezing in a last minute training session with her TB, Dubai Flyer, ahead of another run in an Eventing Ireland competition, and by all accounts the duo were in flying form around the Finvoy course the following day.

With our series of three flatwork sessions behind us we are now looking forward to the next block of lessons. These will be jumping lessons and are once again going to take place at Greenacres Equestrian Centre in Convoy. Sonya McAleer coaches for the first two nights and the coach has yet to be confirmed for the last training session before our Orla O’Reilly memorial show on the 20th of June. Obviously the opportunity to train at the competition venue is a huge advantage and a high level of interest has been expressed. Book in with Lorna on 087 311 1381 or via the club WhatsApp group.

Is your heart racing yet?

Well actually its our horses hearts that we’ll look at in this post…if your own is racing you’ll probably be well aware already. With the return of training and competitive events, the prospect of group gallops across local beaches and the increased contact with various other horses, our own mounts may find life has suddenly ramped up a gear rather unexpectedly. Whilst its unlikely that this evenings flatwork sessions at Greenacres will induce an equine coronary the ability to take our horses pulse and monitor their day to day response to exercise is a valuable skill to master. The following article from Equus, an online magazine, gives an excellent description of how to nail the technique.

It’s easiest to take a horse’s pulse on his facial artery, which runs underneath his jaw. You’ll find this cordlike structure about an inch behind the junction of the rounded cheek and the straight jawbone.

An underside view of a horse's jaw
One of the easiest places to take a horse’s pulse is on the underside of his jawAdobe Stock

To amplify the pulse, making it easier to detect, press the hardest with your index finger, slightly less with the middle finger, and lightest with the ring finger. Next, use the second hand on your wristwatch to count each surge of blood you feel in 30 seconds, and multiply that number by two.

A horse at rest will typically have a pulse rate between 30 and 40 beats per minute. If a horse who hasn’t just finished exercising has a pulse rate of 50 beats per minute or higher, he may be ill or in pain, so it’s wise to consult your veterinarian.

A good gauge of a horse’s fitness is how quickly his pulse returns to its resting rate post-exercise. After exertion, a horse’s pulse will probably be between 120 beats and 150 beats per minute, or some-times higher.

A horse is generally considered fit when his pulse drops to 70 beats a minute 10 minutes after stopping intense exercise and to below 60 beats 10 minutes after moderate exercise.

Up and running at last

It would be difficult to put into words just how wonderful it was yesterday to meet up with real people (as opposed to family or work colleagues) and share some chit-chat while astride our four-legged companions. The atmosphere at our first club outing since June 2020 was up-beat to say the least and the horses were just as glad to meet some strangers as the riders were. Lorna had done an excellent job of arranging the lessons on fairly short notice and Mary Devine was a most encouraging and understanding coach for the evening. The heavens had opened in a truly biblical fashion shortly before the club training session began, but this served to clear the previously heavy and humid atmosphere and ensured clean fresh air for the none too fit participants. Trailer reversing skills were a little rusty, crucial bottles of water were forgotten, and memories of the time it takes to get loaded, travel, unload and tack-up were definitely a little sketchy, but it all fell into place and we can safely say the first club outing of the year was a great success.

The first group consisted of Anne on a really lovely home-bred youngster with action to die for, Marina with her new TB horse Ted, who I’m told was christened with the start of Tedel’s name and the end of Sid’s name (if things go badly the horse will be rechristened with the start of Sid’s name and the end of Teldel’s!!), Suzanne with her EI affiliated mount Dubai Flyer, and Rachel aboard the stalwart Merlin. Group two saw Rachel affect a rapid change of mount to introduce her daughter Emma’s young pony Machno High Flyer (aka Clonee) to riding club life alongside Vera aboard a very trim and toned looking Jenny, Amelia with a youngster who very definitely has the action to excel, and our youngest member Michaela aboard Lorna’s gorgeous and saintly Blaze.

On a positive note, and looking to the summer expeditions that AIRC membership offers, I can tell you that whilst the AIRC festival and the Team Showjumping Championships at the RDS are cancelled, we still have the national showjumping championships, the dressage championships, the eventing championships and the hunter-trial championships to look forward to. HQ have released the list of dressage tests to be used at the championships and with any luck we’ll be able to make full use of the knowledge and turn practice into perfection at all the relevant events. Check out the tests at the following link

Positive moves. Calendar dates at last.

At a well attended Zoom meeting our club members were obviously champing at the bit to get out and about again. Lorna has arranged a set of three flatwork and polework lessons, under the able tutelage of Mary Devine, at Greenacres Equestrian Centre. These lessons will run on the next three Friday evenings, the 14th, 21st and 28th of May. Members should book in with Lorna by the Monday evening if they wish to take part on the Friday. You’ll get Lorna on 087-311 1381. Pre-booking is strictly necessary due to current covid restrictions (not to mention common courtesy).

Unfortunately AIRC guidelines do not yet permit us to run a club rideout, which is something a lot of members are looking for. The social aspect commonly associated with a rideout is contrary to best principles for minimising covid risk. As soon as any kind of social gathering is permitted we’ll organise an outing to take in the wide open spaces of the Donegal hills.

We are also proposing to run a show….yes, an actual competition, in June. It will include show-jumping and dressage and will be our ‘Orla O’Reilly Shield’ show. We reckon that there will be a shortage of weekends available for running competitions and whilst the Orla O’Reilly memorial show is traditionally a Derby show we feel that not many horses (or riders) will be up to jumping a long derby course in June, hence opting for a standard length course. It will include some rustic fillers but wont consist of the usual 20+ jumps of a derby course. As soon as the date is given the green light by the North Western sub-region we’ll post full details.

The other date in the pipeline is for our Audrey Jacob Team Challenge. This great event was sorely missed in 2020 and with any luck will go ahead this year in September. We are aiming for the latter part of September and will confirm details as soon as we can.

Stay safe, get yo asses in yo saddles, shoes on the nags feet and dig out your lucky knickers. This year is revving up.

Big bright light at the end of the tunnel.

At long last club activities are set to resume as the AIRC announced today that adults in pods of up to 15 people can train together from the 10th of May. With inter-county travel also on the horizon, and the likelihood of amateur competitions being permitted by June 7th at the latest, life is looking quite positive again. So dust off your breeches, sweep the cobwebs from the trailer and prepare to enjoy real club life again. We’ll organise a quick club meeting to discuss what people want to do and with any luck we’ll be face to face in no time…well, mask to mask at any rate.