Polished performances

Many thanks to Mary Devine for providing photographic evidence of the hardy crew who travelled to Twin Towns equestrian centre for this evenings lesson. Looking good folks



It’s an omen

Having set myself the goal of taking part in my first ever one day event this year you can imagine my delight when I saw that AIRC  hq had published the dates and venues for all the national championships and the eventing championship is to be held in Flowerhill!  That’s all the motivation I need to get myself and Merlin started on a personal fitness and training regime. All the championship dates are on our Calendar page. Why not set one as your own goal now? You know you want to.

Fancy a road trip?

Our north western sub-region is part of the the greater Western region of the AIRC, which stretches from the tip top of Malin head to Kilbaha on the southern toe of Co. Clare. As a general rule clubs within an area are not allowed to run events in competition with each other, so getting a free date to run a show or training clinic can be quite difficult. Fortunately the powers that be agreed to the formation of our sub-region  and now we only have to worry about fitting our dates in around the other Donegal clubs (a tough enough challenge) and any national championships that happen to be on. The advantage of being in the AIRC is that all the affiliated events are available to you, with a welcome guaranteed at all of them. A friendly phone call to the local organiser will frequently result in a stable being found for your four-legged companion, allowing yourself and any significant others you want to bring along to enjoy a relaxing weekend away. Check out the most up to date version of the Western Region calendar here.

AIRC West Regional Calendar 2020

Intermediate riders now eligible for Young Horse competitions

Intermediate riders may now compete in Young Horse and Green Horse competitions. Previously the competitions were restricted to riders graded Advanced Intermediate and higher.

In show jumping and eventing, the competitions are traditionally run over a 0.90m track while the young horse class is run over a 0.80m track at the National Hunter Trials Championships.

Riders who compete in a young or green horse competition in dressage or show jumping may still compete in their graded class on the day if they wish.

Young Horse competitions are open to horses aged 4 & 5 years while Green Horse competitions are open to horses needing experience and applies for one calendar year commencing 1st January.

Time to boot and spur

The talk given by Jim Hickey on Thursday evening was a great success, with almost ninety people attending and taking away an increased awareness and understanding of the power of the mind in our day to day riding endeavors. Top marks to Marina for organising the whole event, which added a tidy sum to the club coffers and will help fund the next educational clinic.

With our positive mental attitudes firmly in place we can now start to put action behind our good intentions by taking part in the flatwork lessons this Friday evening at Twin Towns Equestrian Centre. These lessons are being organised by Vera and you can contact her on 087-2325632 via sms or WhatsApp to book a slot. Remember that you must have membership paid up before riding at an AIRC event.

Clubbing together

The first of the year’s inter-club meetings took place at the Glencar Inn on Monday 20th and was well attended by all the clubs in the North West sub-region. Erin Fergus read the minutes of the last meeting (in record time…great lungs!) and our regional chairman, Daire, welcomed all and proceeded to keep the meeting moving in a very efficient way.

There was a lively discussion of the AIRC grading system, especially with regard to down-grading of riders, and it was agreed that the primary objective of the AIRC should be to encourage inclusion and participation even if that means a rider needs to be down-graded due to a change of mount.

A vote of thanks was passed in acknowledgment of the many years of service that Trish Warren gave to the region by serving as a very active member of the executive as well as being such an inspiration at grass-roots level.

It was agreed that the points system for deciding the showjumping rider of the year and the dressage rider of the year will remain the same, as will the system of voting for club of the year. We can already confirm that the annual dinner dance will once again take place at the Villa Rose Hotel in Ballybofey on Saturday 28th November. Get the hair dressers booked!

The approaching spring league was the next subject up for discussion. With the increased costs for Templemore Equestrian Centre (the first increase since 2006!!), combined with cost of judges, course builders and prizes, Cormac stressed the importance of clubs supporting the leagues to ensure their viability. One suggestion that was proposed, and got plenty of support, was the use of entry vouchers as prizes. By giving vouchers for league entries we will reduce the actual spending on prizes and will also encourage participation in future events. After all there is a limit to how many saddle cloths or headcollars a body can need.

Spring league dates and venues are as per the Calendar page. Stracomer RC are running their leg in Greenacres on the 8th of March and have said that they will be running the higher classes first to facilitate riders at this level who need to get home to work in the evening. More details of how this day will run will be published closer to the time.

In an effort to raise the profile of the riding clubs in the area Erica has agreed to become a PRO for the sub region and will keep a short but regular feed of information to the local media such as Donegal Daily and local papers. If anybody has any suggestions for raising public awareness of how much fun and value for money the riding club is they should contact Erica.

Daire also flagged the need for the regional training day to be organised promptly as submissions for funding from head-office must be lodged by February 29th. Our north western sub-region can draw down E800 towards training. Whether this is used to run one main event or divided over a number of smaller events is up to the clubs to decide amongst themselves. It was agreed that the format used for the past number of years, whereby all the clubs came together to share one main day, was working well and encouraged the all-important social side of the riding club movement. Inishowen and Tirconail riding clubs are jointly organising the day, with Sunday 2nd of August in Gordon’s Bay proposed as date and venue. Mona is organising the coaches and promises they will be top class. If the date and venue work out you could do a lot worse than book a stable or paddock for the Saturday night and make a weekend of it.

Word of the western region RDS qualifier is uncertain, with the dates of the 10th and 17th of May being bandied about. As soon as the date and venue are confirmed I’ll let y’all know.

The next inter-club meeting has been scheduled for the 17th of February at 8pm in the Glencar Inn. This is a little sooner than would be usual but it was felt that with the pending deadline for the training day funding application it would be beneficial to have a chance to work through any potential issues sooner rather than later.

First social of the year

Don’t forget that this Friday brings our first club social event, the Wii night at Damian and Nadine’s home. Give one of them a quick call or text to let them know if you can make it and to get directions if you need them. See y’all there.

An ability to adapt is essential

Was it Robbie Burns who said “the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley”?? Well so it is with planning a riding club calendar. Our Audrey Jacob Team Challenge will run on April 26th, rather than the 19th as originally thought. The good news is that Tir conaill rc are running a day clinic on 19th April in Greenacres with coaches Mandi king and Mark Robinson. The day will offer each participant a one hour jumping lesson and a one hour flat-work lesson, with a lunging demo at end. They have space for 18 riders, with 3 riders per lesson. Cost for the day is currently E50-E55, but they have applied for a training bursary and if the application is successful the cost will reduce considerably. If you would like to book a slot please let Marina, Erica or myself know as soon as possible as the TirConaills need to spread available spaces around the region. What better way to prepare for the AJTC the following weekend?

Well begun is half done

We had our first club meeting last night in our regular stomping ground of Tir Na nOg in Letterkenny. With a good strong turnout of enthusiastic members there was plenty of discussion and a lot of positivity about the year ahead.

The approaching talk from equestrian sports psychologist Jim Hickey is attracting a lot of interest already, with 54 tickets sold to date and a large number expressing a desire for seats. It is not often we have the chance to benefit from the expertise of a sports psychologist who mentors international and Olympic riders. We all suffer from self doubt at times, which is the single greatest stumbling block between where we are now and where we want to be with our riding. Self-confidence and self-belief are key to performing well and unlocking true potential. This session aims to give the attendees the tools and techniques to build the right mindset to master any arena and own that winning round. Now I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the spring league when we all own the winning round, but it should certainly make for a competitive and invigorated atmosphere.

The dates and venues for the North West Riding Clubs spring league were confirmed, with the strong reminder that riders MUST be fully paid up members of the AIRC. Get your membership in to Erica as soon as you can if you plan to take part in the first leg of the league on the 9th February at Templemore. Membership forms will be available for filling out at the Jim Hickey night. Our club’s ItsPlainSailing account is almost alive and will make renewals easier. Watch this space.

The need to raise public awareness of our club’s existence and what we have to offer potential members was raised. There are a lot of riders in the area who don’t even know we exist! Even the people who are keen on doing registered jumping could benefit hugely from the low-stress atmosphere at our shows for getting mileage onto young horses. If any of you know of any potential members in your area it would be great if you took time to chat to them and encourage them to join the fun. This is especially true for riders who aren’t naturally competitive and just want a social outing with their horse….or without it!

Talking of social outings and leaving the four-legged members at home brings me on to one of our great annual events, the Wii night. Held in Damian and Nadine’s house near Ramelton, this night of good natured rivalry and hilarious gyrations, not to mention superb food and drink, is a great opportunity to relax and enjoy good company. This year it is taking place on Friday 17th January. Thankfully it predates the Jim Hickey event by a few days. The thought of an even more motivated and competitive Marina is daunting!!

We also plan to have a monthly lesson together. As it is very difficult to find time to get out to riding club more than once in a week we will hold these lesons on the Friday of weekends when there is no leg of the spring league on. Dates and rough lesson plan is on the Calendar page, though details will be texted through to members closer to each event.

One major event on our annual calender is the Audrey Jacob Team Challenge, which incorporates both dressage and showjumping. Date and venue are confirmed for Sun 19th April at Eglinton Equestrian Centre.

As the county’s annual exodus to the National Hunter Trial Championships takes place very early this year, being on April 5th, we are very tight for time to squeeze in cross-country schooling beforehand. The current plan is to travel to Cross-Equestrian, Knockloughrim, just over the Glenshane pass, on either the 28th or 29th of March. This premises has an excellent schooling ground, with a wide variety of jump options. Most importantly it is an all-weather facility.

If cross-country is your drug of favour there are no shortage of opportunities to indulge over the coming months as we are entering the rush of the hunter trial season. The excellent, if somewhat distant, course at Annaharvey farm near Tullamore is hosting a number of non-AIRC hunter trials which are open to all, while Carlanstown Equestrian Centre near Kells, Co. Meath, also have a number of upcoming Hunter Trials:-
Tara Harriers on Sun 8th March 2020
Oriel Farneys on Sun 19th April 2020
Ballymacads on Sun 3rd May 2020


Riding club dressage

With many of us studiously avoiding mirrors, and desperately trying to motivate ourselves to stick to tough resolutions for the coming year, it should come as a small incentive to see that the North Coast Riding Club are hosting a dressage competition in nearby Eglinton Equestrian Centre. Taking place on Sunday 19th of January it will include tests for all levels of rider and a welcoming atmosphere is guaranteed. Entries close on January 16th and details can be found on the following Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/events/444463673126160/

If you’ve never done dressage and feel daunted by the prospect then rest assured that dressage is quite simply basic flatwork, well within everybody’s capabilities. There are some basic guidelines to be aware of if entering a competition….martingales and boots are prohibited on the horse, gloves are compulsory for the rider, and certain bits are not allowed…but these are simple matters to check up on. If you think you’d like to give it a go, but would like some advice or guidance, feel free to contact Marina on 086-8216335 or myself (Rachel) on 086-1617087 and we’ll do our best to help you out.

If you need a little inspiration to help you during these dark days (but isn’t there a wee stretch in the evenings already) you may find the following article helpful. It is very good.