A very happy St. Patrick’s day

I can confidently state that none of us envisaged the St. Patrick’s day we would be having this year. The weather is more or less traditional fare I admit, but the lack of a parade to attend or a pub to visit is pretty remarkable.

Myself and Libby spent an enjoyable, albeit very wet, hour out on Fenway and Merlin. With Libby just back from Moscow I was careful to stay upwind of her I can tell you! We will all be facing challenges over the coming days, weeks and, I fear, months. As horse owners we have the advantage of having livestock that are totally dependent on us and whilst this can be a drag on a day to day basis it is also a marvelous way to get head space away from the constant corona related news.  Initially I found I lost what little bit of motivation I had for riding, given that there aren’t likely to be any events to attend in the foreseeable future, but I’ve decided that every cloud has a silver lining and, with working hours severely reduced, I now have time to spend on all the little jobs around the stables that have been put on a long finger for a long time (including actually grooming Merlin).

Why not use this time to do the flat-work you’ve been avoiding, to give your tack the love and care it has been crying out for, to really thoroughly groom your horse on a regular basis (and make yourself use both your hands if you’re like me and tend to do all brushing with your right hand), to mend the fence around the arena, to take up pilates or yoga and build up those core muscles that you know are lurking in there somewhere? My most recent bit of learning was the rulebook of the AIRC…an enlightening read!

For the time being we are free to travel, and obviously riding your horse is a fairly solitary occupation that poses no risk to the general population so hacking and schooling are great ways to spend time. If a travel ban comes into effect anyone without their own arena or land to ride on could be in a spot of bother, though on the plus side a travel ban will leave the roads a lot safer for riding. According to some of the equestrian forums I follow on social media the countries that have gone into total lock-down have prohibited riding. The reason for this is that riding is considered a high-risk sport and if you did happen to take a fall you may need emergency medical attention which would pull staff from dealing with less foolhardy people. If this was implemented here it means we would be limited to lunging, long-reining or using walkers for exercising our four legged friends. It might be good to brush up on your skills in these areas, or learn them for the first time if needs be.

The down side of reduced working hours is the inevitable drop in income. This is a harsh reality for a huge number of people now. Anyone involved in the hospitality industry is definitely looking at having a lot of free time, and lets face it…Donegal relies heavily on tourism. Panic buying for me consisted of sourcing forage. Remember that horses are designed to live on forage, not hard feed. If you run out of hard feed the horses will be just fine but run out of forage and you’ll be looking at any number of potential problems. I also made sure to get another bag of hen feed. My hens were marching about with placards, campaigning for better conditions, which to be honest I can understand cause their run is a quagmire at the moment, but I explained that I was just as happy to eat chicken sandwiches as egg sandwiches and hey presto eggs are back on the menu! Smart ladies.

The one thing to remember is that THIS WILL END. The world will return to normal eventually. It may be a slightly different version of normal but we will get back out to club gatherings and competitions at some stage. We have the huge advantage now of technology that allows us to learn new skills and also to communicate across the world at the touch of a button, but we also know people who rely on the good old-fashioned telephone for communications. Let’s stay in touch with everyone and make sure we’re all getting through this time as well as possible.

Keep well, mind your mind, and enjoy your horses without the pressure of feeling that you have to be competing. Oh, almost forgot, Happy Paddy’s Day.

It wasn’t meant to be.

If ever a league was doomed from the start it was the North West Riding Clubs spring league 2020! First three legs lost to storms and now the final falls foul of the Corona virus. Templemore Equestrian Centre has taken the responsible approach of cancelling any shows in the near future. I give up.


We as a Team at Templemore Equestrian Centre has taken the difficult decision to Postpone our ST PATRICKS DAY PONY SHOW ( Sunday 15th) and the ST PATRICKS DAY HORSE SHOW ( Tuesday 17th) to a further date which is yet be confirmed.

We feel under the current circumstances of CORONA VIRUS it is safer for our customers, our livery clients and our staff not to gather for this special event.

We extend our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience. We will get a new date secured in the coming weeks when we, as a community, are in a safer position.


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HW Equine PhysiotherapyLike Page

One of the things which frequently amazes me is that riders expect their horses to cope with sudden spats of intense exercise without feeling any the worse for the wear whilst the rider in question is as stiff as a plank two days later and has to think carefully about which leg hurts less to stand on when they’re getting out of bed in the morning! Thanks to Kyle, of Aldertree Equine, for sharing this excellent article. Please, for your horses sake and your own, read it.

A majorly overlooked physiological occurrence in the equine field- WHY is it not being discussed!

All too often I hear “he’s had his back checked, all OK so it’s not that”- especially now spring is on the horizon. People are riding more and pushing their horses ready for competing all summer. Especially since a lot of us in the UK have had to use our wheelbarrows as boats to do our horses recently- we are really catching up on lost time! But, following on from my post about why horse’s cant fake pain, there is something that I am still not seeing being put out there when there are behavioural shifts in a horse’s work mentality.
First, let me give you a scenario:
Day 1- horse is generally happy and does his best and you are very pleased.
Day 2- Horse has cracked it today and you are a very happy rider.
Day 3- Horse wasn’t too keen on being ridden today so he got a stern telling and told to get on because he was a tad behind the leg.
Day 4- Horse WILL NOT do as he is told and you end up getting off annoyed and a bit confused.
Day 5- Horse is given a 2-3 day break
Day 7 – Horse is ridden and back to being OK again

This happens repeatedly until you end up concerned.

So what could it be? Firstly, we need to know how muscles are made.

The muscular system is composed of specialised cells called muscle fibres. They encompass every muscle in the body, from the tiny ones responsible for ear movement, to the biggest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus), they ALL are made up the same way. Their predominant function (for skeletal muscles) is contractility. Muscles, attached to bones or internal organs and blood vessels, are responsible for movement. Nearly all movement in the body is the result of muscle contraction; other than a few focused exceptions of course. The integrated action of joints, bones, and skeletal muscles produce obvious movements such as walking and running. They are live and have nerve endings, they can break, and they are extremely sensitive to exercise- ESPECIALLY in a new athletic regime.

For this reason, delayed onset muscle soreness (D.O.M.S) is so immensely overlooked in the working horse in 2020.

D.O.M.S is that feeling that most of us have experienced usually 24-48 hours after a hard workout and usually lasts for up to 2-4 days. It’s that feeling of acute aching pain, tenderness, and stiffness. The severity of the soreness that we experience is a direct result of a number of factors, including familiarity with the exercises used during a workout, the intensity of exercise, loading of the muscles, how much a muscle has been stretched under resistance, preparation/ warming up and the angle of muscle contraction. It is caused by a number of small myofibril tears (what muscle fibres are made of!). The micro trauma results in an inflammatory response with intramuscular fluid and electrolyte shifts (also known as lactic acid build up, a by-product of muscular contractions). When not acknowledged and treated accordingly, the DOMS can continue to grow and more tears occur creating more pain and stiffness and the muscle becomes susceptible to genuine injury. DOMS should be treated initially with active rest (light work) and anti-inflammatory measures such as ice.. Gentle massage (this is where i come in!) and pressure garments have been shown in research studies to provide a reduction in the duration and severity of DOMS. However, deep tissue massage should be avoided during the first 24 hours. Excessive muscle stretching in this early phase should also be avoided due to ease of furthering muscle ruptures.

This is the key to this post, though-
You should avoid aggressive exercise during the recovery phase. This is due to muscles reduced capacity to cope with shock absorption, coordination, altered muscle recruitment patterns, reduced strength balance and contraction intensity. (Zainuddin et al 2005) In less words, when suffering the DOMS, your horse will struggle to perform basic tasks he was doing the day before because he could well potentially be aching from his nose to his toes! Therefore, he is not naughty, he is not confused, he is aching and cannot perform what is being asked.
1. Take it slow and gradually build up the amount of exercise you do in your program – remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
2. Be aware of the amount of high intensity exercises you are including in your rides without breaks between to allow the muscles to relax.
3. Ensure you do a thorough cool down following your workout – many of us would have seen sportspeople doing gentle running and cool down drills after their games – this is one of the reasons why.

Photo to show muscle fibres under microscope which really highlights the delicacy of this tissue!

(Black et al 2008, Cleak et al 1992, Bleakley et al 2012, MacIntyre et al 2001, Cheung et al 2003, Valle et al 2014, Hill et al 2013, Nelson N. 2014, Dutto and Braun 2004, Paschalis 2007).

NWRC Spring League – week 1 results and points table

Not often do we have a points table with just two legs to include…I’m thinking it may produce a somewhat wobbly table. Megan Coxford was on photography duty on the day so I’ll upload the link to her albums as soon as I get it. Do try to support a local young business woman with her endeavors.


It’s good to get out

The one recurring comment at Greenacres today was “Isn’t it great to get back out again?” Everyone was delighted to get the season up and going again, though for some of us the long interval between this show and our last time over coloured poles exacted a penalty. Letterkenny was represented by Rachel, Francis, Cliff and Marina, with Jenny and Enda supporting on the sidelines and capturing valuable video footage of some interesting riding techniques. Full results will follow but as a synopsis I can tell you that Cliff rode Shyla into second place in the advanced intermediate, beating Rachel and Merlin but having to bow to Stephen Greene’s superiority on the day as he clinched first spot for Tirconaill. In the intermediate class Francis and Bonzo were very unlucky to have the final fence down in the first round, denying them a spot in a very competitive jump-off. Marina made up for many weeks out of the saddle by clinching third spot on London Jen. With two weeks to the league final, and double points available on the day, the whole league table will be completely open for the taking.

Watch Rachel, Marina and Francis jumping in the following videos. Sorry Cliff…no video evidence available of your super jump-off on Shyla.

Anyone for clipping?

MM Clipping Services will be at Cyril Higgins yard in Milford today, Friday 6th March, and can take bookings for other premises in the area if anyone needs an end-of-season clip before the summer coat comes through. Contact the woman herself on 085-1832624 or check out her Facebook page at the following link https://www.facebook.com/mmclipping/


Glimmer of hope visible

No matter which weather forecast I check I can find no sign of an impending storm this coming weekend. Plenty of rain to be sure, but no significant wind. So once again we gird our loins and prepare for the first leg of the shortest league in history. This Sunday sees us in Greenacres Equestrian in Convoy, with Stracomer running the day. In a change to the regular way of running the day they are holding the higher classes first…going from the top down so to speak. The running order will be as follows: Open Training, Open SJ, Advanced Intermediate Training, AI SJ, Intermediate Training, Intermediate SJ, Advance Primary Training, Advance Primary SJ, Cross Poles, 60cm & Primary SJ. So come along for a long overdue get-together and let’s kick off the competitive year in style.

Anyone who had planned on attending the Ballycastle & Rural Riding Community cross-country ride at Dirraw Farm can now divert to the league in Greenacres as the xc has had to be postponed due to ground conditions (surprise surprise). If it gets resceduled we’ll let you know.

Lastly a plea for a small turnout rug. Jenny Coe has an elderly, 11hh welsh pony and is looking for a turnout rug for it. If anyone has one lurking in the corner of their tack room she would be very grateful if you would part with it. Contact Jenny on 086-0844748.

Optimism running low

I don’t know about the rest of you but I for one am getting thoroughly browned off by this weather. The third leg of the league, due to be held this Sunday in Templemore, has fallen foul of storm Jorge and there is no forseeable let-up in the rain.

Start crossing all fingers and toes

Third time lucky

The weather forecast for this Sunday, whilst not what you would call clement, is at least not worthy of a name. With some anonymous rain, and the odd gust of bracing wind to contend with, it looks like the third leg of the North West Riding Clubs spring league should run as scheduled. You must be all chomping at the bit by now to get out and make a start so do be sure to turn out and support the day (says Rachel, who will be in Kilkenny!)

The following Sunday, the 8th of March, as well as being the next leg of the show-jumping league, brings a relatively local cross-country opportunity as Ballycastle & Rural Riding Community are hosting a go-as-you-please on Dirraw Farm. First horses out at 12, last horses at 1pm. The ride is suitable for all abilities, fences range from 60cms up to 1.10m. For those not wishing to jump, hack round at your own pace taking in the scenery, the hacking trail is approx 3 miles from start to finish and suitable to canter or gallop on.

The fee for the ride is £15 for BRRC members and under 16s, and £20 for non members. Non riders wishing to eat will be charged at £2. Refreshments will be served afterwards. Photographer Gareth Obrien will be present on the day. The address is Dirraw road, finvoy Ballymoney. Please contact paddy Traynor directly on 07719 677361 if more information is needed.

Talking of cross-country I can tell you that entries for next months Connolly’s RED MILLS National Hunter Trials Championships will open on Saturday 21st March and close at 12 noon on Thursday 26th March. The championships take place on Sunday 5th April at Flowerhill House, Killimor, Co. Galway H53 X6C6. We’ll keep you updated here as details are released but one thing to remember is that members are reminded to register their horse or pony before the 1st April  for free. A fee of €25 will apply for all applications received from 1st April until Monday 8th June 2020.

Further information on how to register your horse is available at this link.


Talking of national championships reminds me that there have been a number of changes made to the way the Dressage championships are being run. With Inishowen hosting our regional qualifier in the forseeable future it would be good for interested members to have a read through the criteria.

Teams riders, who qualify for the final, will now also qualify as individuals while the number of competitors that qualify in the individual classes for advanced primary, intermediate and advanced intermediate will decrease to 3.  This is down from 6. These changes mean that any rider who qualifies as an individual, while also a member of a team, will only have to ride two tests at the final.

The rules regarding reserves are also going to be simplified as clubs will no longer have to name reserves in advance but will only be permitted to make one change per team by a deadline prior to the qualifier and finals.

The rule changes will be available in the 2020 rule book which will be published shortly.

The AIRC National Dressage Championship are due to take place at Mullingar Equestrian on Sunday 16th August 2020.