Kilteel, Co. Kildare

Blog May 22nd 2012

The last few weeks have flown by for me as the jumping season is now finally in full swing. Earlier this month, Horse Sport Ireland held the inaugural Equestrian Showcase Parade on the opening day of the Punchestown National Hunt Racing Festival, which involved introducing 19 of HSI’s affiliate bodies to the public. One rider per affiliate (or discipline) was invited to parade in the ring whilst a short explanation was given of what the sport involved. I was invited to represent show jumping for Showjumping Ireland on my lovely seven-year-old Penny Lane, who took it all in her stride! It was fascinating listening to the description and successes of each discipline and I was surprised by how much I learned about them that day.

Another great event which I was invited to in Dublin Castle was the launch of The Gathering Ireland 2013; a government initiative to encourage all things Irish for next year, with particular emphasis on having people with Irish roots to return home to visit their families, friends, heritage and history. The scheme aims to get everyone from small rural communities right up to large corporations involved.

At Balmoral Show I dropped in to a couple of my sponsors, Connolly’s Red Mills and ComfyBed. It was great to hear the plans for sponsorship and expansion that each of these Irish companies has for the near future. ComfyBed has hugely increased its sponsorship of the Dublin Horse Show for 2012 and Red Mills has supported everything from eventing to racing to pony jumping in Ireland already this year with some really exciting plans still to be revealed over the next few weeks!

Following the recent changes to the rules for the RDS young horse classes, which now allow any mare or stallion approved by an Irish studbook to compete, I looked into getting the five-year-old stallion Triomphe Kervec inspected before the RDS qualifiers.

This didn’t leave me with much time to get it done as the HSI inspections had take place in March. However, I was very fortunate that Tom Reed, Dawn Kelly and Claire Wood of the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland were very accommodating and an inspection took place almost immediately after I first contacted them.

Triomphe Kervec was very well-received and passed with flying colours, scoring highly for athleticism, jumping technique, jumping scope and jumping reflexes. He is by Kannan and his dam is a half-sister to Mylord Carthago, so he’s impeccable breeding on both sides of the family!

On the show jumping front, everything is progressing well with the younger horses. It can sometimes be frustrating with younger horses as you need to let them find their feet as such. When mistakes are made, it needs to be turned into a positive experience until you suddenly realise that the mistakes have become less and less frequent and you have a superstar on your hands!

I have often been told to let the horses figure it out themselves; if they’re any good they’ll soon realise what it’s all about. I was very pleased with all of them at Cavan Show last weekend.

Penny Lane is really coming into herself now. She won a 1.30m class with a nice smooth round and her jump is becoming more consistent each time that she jumps. Astilbe B and Triomphe Kervec also jumped very well. All three will be heading to the RDS qualifiers over the next few weeks and I feel that each of them is on top form which is great.

On the domestic side of things, my yard has had a spring clean and is now freshly painted with a purpose-built indoor washbay, although I reckon that it won’t be fully appreciated until wintertime when I no longer have to wash legs in the dark and the rain!

Plans for the new arena are coming along slowly, but as it’s something I don’t want to have to do twice, I’m making sure to do all my research beforehand! I’m very grateful to the Reynolds family for the use of their arena in the meantime.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the only competitive member of my family as my Dad has been busy competing at bridge tournaments throughout Europe and in fact he’s just returned from a competition in Bonn which he describes as a ‘useful practice’ ahead of the European Championships in June.

These were due to be held in Greece, but with their economic crisis they were relocated – ironically to the Citywest Convention Centre, which is five minutes down the road from our house! So hopefully he and his team will have the home advantage.

More exciting family news is that I’m to become an aunt for the sixth time in November! This time my brother Johnny and his wife Sally are doing the honours and as it will be their first parenting experience, it’s a big occasion for them.

So this week is a big week for me – the RDS qualifiers kick off on Wednesday in the Meadows Equestrian Centre up the north and I’ll be aiming to qualify Astilbe B, Penny Lane and Triomphe Kervec in their respective classes for the Horse Show in August.

Other projects I’ll be working away on for the next while are my arena, my website and finding some more promising horses to ride. Hopefully I’ll have good news to report on those fronts my next blog!

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