2022 riding club festival to blow the socks off all previous outings

The past number of months have been incredibly frustrating for us all as we have not been allowed to continue with our equestrian pursuits due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. We must remember that the virus was rampant in our communities last December when these current restrictions were introduced but thankfully the numbers affected have fallen and continue to do so, giving us all some hope. The recent lifting of the 5km travel restriction, earlier this week, gives us renewed hope that we will be able to resume our activities soon.

Throughout all of these recent restrictions the AIRC has been in constant touch with our governing body, Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), with proposals and suggestions to allow us resume our activities but on each occasion these were rejected. During this time the Olympic disciplines, with their mixed membership, were permitted to continue as an exemption was provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) to allow elite/professionals and producers to continue.  The exemption did not extend to amateur riders and HSI is aware of the continuing problem of policing this as individuals continue to compete at shows who do not necessarily meet HSI’s criteria.

We would like to thank our members for their patience, support and resilience in adhering to HSI’s protocols as we have not been able to hold any activities at this time.  We ‘stayed at home’ in order to protect ourselves, our families, our loved ones and our communities. We understand the incredible frustration this has caused but we are hopeful that we will be able to resume activities later this month. In the latest correspondence received from HSI, they are hopeful that we will be able to resume outdoors from the 26th April subject to revised regulations being published by the Government and further advices from DAFM and Sport Ireland which are anticipated this week.

One of the biggest problems throughout this pandemic has been the continuing uncertainty.  As such the Board of Directors have made the difficult decision to cancel the AIRC Riding Clubs Festival for the second year in a row. It takes months of planning to run this two-day show and the continuing uncertainty regarding our activities combined with the Governments medium term outlook for festivals and events, means that it will be impossible to stage the show as we normally would. This is extremely disappointing for us all but we must do what is best for our members and supporters at this time.

The AIRC Riding Clubs Festival has faced many challenges in the past such as foot and mouth and flooding since it began in 1990 but we will rebound once again to ensure that the 2022 show will knock the socks off any previous holding of the event.

In the interim, we want our full activities to resume as soon as possible in a safe environment for our members so we can all enjoy the sport we hold so dear.

Annual goal moved to September

Book your holidays…the Association of Irish Riding Clubs National Hunter Trials Championships will now take place on Sunday 12th September 2021.

The championships which were due to take place on Sunday (11th April) were postponed last month for the second year in a row due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Details for this year’s championships will be available nearer the time, but as no change of venue has been mentioned we can probably assume its still in Flowerhill (YAY!!)

No surprise as Covid causes postponement

The Association of Irish Riding Clubs National Hunter Trials Championships has been postponed for the second year in a row due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Championships, which were due to take place on 11th April at Flowerhill, will now be rescheduled to a new date, most likely in September. Members are asked not to contact the venue directly. The decision was taken following the continued uncertainty regarding the resumption of activities under current Horse Sport Ireland guidelines along with the lack of preparation time for our members. The Board of Directors is continuing to engage with Horse Sport Ireland to ensure our activities can resume as soon as possible.

As Suzanne rightly points out it gives us more time to gather together an even bigger squad of competitors to defend the club’s reputation in the championship we excel at. Bring it on!

Gentle reminder

Remember that if you need to register a new mount with the AIRC the service is currently free of charge. However a fee of E25 will come into effect on the first of April and remain in place until the Monday after the Riding Clubs Festival, which is on the 12th and 13th of June this year (hopefully). The application can be made online if you have a scanner to upload a pdf of your horses passport, or you can print off a postal form and send it along with photocopies of the passport. Do NOT send the actual passport as HQ cannot guarantee its safe return in the postal system.

At the moment the road ahead looks long and bleak, but rest assured that when restrictions ease there will be a glut of applications for everything and admin staff will be snowed under. Why not get registered now and rest easy knowing you are a step ahead of the crowd.

Are you Aware of this?

Most of us in the local riding club scene have come across equestrian coach Sonya McAleer. Sonya coaches all around the area and has been a guiding presence for many of the regions riders over the past few years.

Four years ago Sonya realised that she was suffering from depression and anxiety. In her own words “I will be totally honest, it took so much out of me that even the smallest task like getting out of bed felt like too much.I’m so lucky to have wonderful support from my partner Warren and my family and I came out the other side. That being said it’s still something that I have to work on daily, especially within the past year with the current situation in our society”.

As a show jumper and equestrian coach all too often Sonya comes across both children and adults who are also suffering from mental illness.It is because of this that she has created the Irish Equestrian Mental Health Project. The first step with this project is to raise awareness for a charity called AWARE NI. AWARE is the depression charity for Northern Ireland – and the only charity working exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder. AWARE delivers mental health and well-being programmes into communities, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. Many people within our community could benefit from these services, therefore the aim of this project is to raise awareness of mental health charities within the equestrian community, so people know where they can go for help. The starting point is to raise much-needed funds for AWARE, which Sonya is doing by organising a charity raffle.

The list of prizes up for grabs in this raffle is very impressive, with everything from art-work by well known equestrian artists, through stallion semen, saddlery and clothing vouchers to sport-psychology mentoring. There really is something for everyone and its all in a very good cause. Why not support Aware and enter this fantastic raffle? After all, you just might not be aware of who needs the support offered by the mental health services.

Contact Sonya directly with any queries you have regarding the draw.You’ll get her on Facebook or you can contact her by phone on 00 44 7874 350665.

Payment to be made through link https://www.justgiving.com/…/irishequestrianmentalhealt… Keep an eye for posts for each prize, prizes are still being sent in #irishequestrianmentalhealthproject#equestrian#mentalhealthawarenessEquijump LTDKarlswood StablesGreg Broderick Ballypatrick Stables

Hope springs eternal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said “severe” lock-down restrictions will remain in place for at least another nine weeks – until the end of April. Now this does not necessarily mean Level 5, but the problem is that we don’t know what exactly it does mean. An educated guess is that the best we can hope for is the permission to travel within our own county, which would be an absolute blessing at the moment….there are SOOOOO many wonderful places to explore in Donegal that most of us would settle for that at the moment. What could be better than sticking a jam sangwidge in one pocket and a flask in the other and taking to the hills and beaches of our beautiful county?? And sure you never know who might be exploring the same hill or beach on the same day…. Safe to say that there wont be a big run on stabling at Flowerhill on the 10th April 2021. We did get a query this week “What’s happening about membership?” and the only reply we could honestly give is that membership is open and all we can do is hope that the rest of the country follows suit.

If you feel like joining the growing movement of online events then you might just be interested in the following:


We spend so much time as equestrians looking at our horses, and how they move etc, that sometimes we forget that the ridden horse is only half the picture…the mounted human is the other half of the same picture and both halves make the whole. Sometimes 1+1 does not equal 2! If you put a 70Kg rider on a 600Kg horse you do not necessarily get a combined weight of 670Kg. Some people ride heavy and some people ride light. Horse and rider biomechanics play a huge role in every horse and rider partnership. Learn more about this on the highly informative webinar being run by the north-eastern region.

Hang in there guys, we’ll come out the other end sometime (somewhere). In the mean-time watch this space and remember…you could be stuck in Kildare, or Meath, and not have access to God’s own country.

Enjoy your Showing?

Whilst showing is definitely not to everyone’s taste it is a form of competition that is very broad in it’s remit and offers opportunities to almost every make and shape of horse and handler. In the second of their young horse training series Horse Sport Ireland talk to showing aficionado Brian Murphy about his schedule and methods used when producing a young horse for the show ring. Catch the fascinating article here

Making the most of down-time

With restrictions keeping us all on home turf till March 5th at the soonest, and a pretty baltic few days ahead on the weather front, we can all do worse than curl up by a warm fire and read some good blogs. One interesting article available on the Horse Sport Ireland site gives a great insight into the production of young event horses by top professional Sarah Ennis. You can enjoy this read at the following link

What’s your motivation?

People ride for many reasons—it’s fun, it’s good exercise, it builds mastery and confidence, it offers time with human and horse friends. Usually, these incentives are enough to foster improvement. But all of us tire of drilling a particular skill.
We know we should post without stirrups for 15 minutes, but, aww… maybe tomorrow?

Motivation comes in two basic forms: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is supplied by rewards—prizes, cash, jobs, praise, salaries, attention—that other people provide. Rewards fuel our interest in today’s goals, but they don’t do much for next week. They also undermine the long-term drive for improvement that is critical for outstanding performance. By contrast, intrinsic motivation is a feeling from inside that we want to progress for the sake of our own well-being. This inner drive encourages us to master skills through hard work, set and achieve goals, overcome tough moments, and focus on personal growth. These are good traits to develop no matter what we do in life, on horseback or off.

To kindle intrinsic motivation, shift your performance orientation away from outcome and toward mastery. Mastery-oriented athletes love the process of skill development for its own sake. Work on a skill set for a month. Are you better at it than you were before? Then you’ve succeeded! Whether the rider down the barn aisle does the same skill better or worse than you do is irrelevant. By focusing on your own improvement, you teach yourself to create competence.

Mastery-oriented equestrians—regardless of skill level—value learning and progress. They choose moderately challenging tasks, regardless of whether such tasks cause public mistakes. They work long and hard with singular focus, applying effort to a problem for months at a time. They respond to setbacks with increased effort, and they know that failure is caused by factors under their own control. They do not give up on themselves or their horses.

If you want to ignite your passion for riding well, develop inner motivation instead of seeking rewards. Identify factors over which you have control. Seek internal attributions for success and failure, rejecting the easier path of external attribution. Build self-efficacy by setting moderate goals that allow small but frequent victories. Reinforce yourself with inner speech that is positive and helpful. Refuse to give up entirely, but learn when to change tactics, call for a trainer’s help, or give the horse a break and try again tomorrow. Focus on personal mastery rather than social comparison. How others ride just isn’t that important—how you ride is.

Soon you’ll find yourself bounding out to the barn, impelled from within by the satisfaction of learning. Go ahead, drop those irons for 15 minutes. You’ll feel better for it all day long.

Ensuring insurance

As many are aware Brexit has had far reaching effects, not least of all in the field of equine insurance and public liability. Many equestrians in Ireland will have, or will have had, insurance through their membership of the British Horse Society however the BHS is no longer offering public liability to members resident in the Republic of Ireland, leaving a lot of horse owners and riders seeking cover elsewhere. The AIRC have drawn up a list of insurance companies and brokers who offer various packages to cater for our industry:

Whilst members are covered by the AIRC’s liability and personal accident cover at AIRC sanctioned events, members are advised, as always, to ensure they have their own personal accident cover suitable to their own needs. The above is provided for informational purposes only as the AIRC cannot provide advice in this regard.

A new Equine Safety Initiative has been launched which aims to highlight the importance of being adequately insured around horses.

The initiative, developed by Hive Insurance Services, includes a new survey on equine road safety.  Statistics will be collated from the feedback provided which can then be used as part of an Equine Road Safety campaign.

A number of Irish international riders including dressage rider Heike Holstein, event rider Cathal Daniels, and show jumpers Mikey Pender and Seamus Hughes Kennedy have also come on board as brand ambassadors.

For further information about the Equine Safety Initiative, please click here.