Report & Results:
Six members of ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) had a superbly successful weekend in Seacliff, Scotland at the International FEI Endurance competition. Three members from Ulster Branch - Helen McFarland, Morgan Skillen and Jacob Morrow and three from Leinster Branch - Mary Thompson, Andrea O’Carroll and Nicola Boud Tighe pulled out all the stops and achieved three 1* accreditations and two 2* accreditations. As a club we are ecstatic with the performance of our riders in Seacliff, Scotland. Indeed this was Morgan Skillen’s and Mary Thompson’s first ever International event (FEI) and both were immensely proud of their achievements.
The event itself required the riders and their horses to cross open countryside for 80Km (50miles) or 120Km (75miles) in a race style competition and a huge debt of gratitude is owed to local farmers and landowners who allowed the ride access - even to the extent of mowing miles of field verges! The track traversed forests, open fields, beaches, disused railway lines and roadways, with competitors enduring temperatures of 26C and more in over 8-10 hours of riding and vetting, Alpacas, pheasant, hare, buzzard and deer were some of the natural hazards encountered by the riders, with crop scarers and kites also providing something of a challenge for their horses.
However, unlike a normal race where the first person to cross the finishing line is the outright winner, this event requires meticulous vetting of the horses after every 30-40Km. If the rider pushes their horse too fast just to be first over the finishing line the horse could suffer an injury, be dehydrated, have a heart rate which is too high (meaning exhaustion) or go lame and in these instances the International Vets can only decide to eliminate both horse and rider from the competition. The safety of the animal and the rider is always paramount to finishing the race and gaining the qualification.
To succeed in Endurance requires a full understanding of and a huge bond between the rider and their horse, listening and watching for any tiny change that shows a sign of an unhappy animal, total trust in each other and a desire to spend many hours together.
So after an exhilarating, adrenaline filled and exceptionally hot day, endurance and perseverance have paid off for these determined long distance riders in the International circuit.
Thanks must go to all the team and crew who travelled and helped as well as Tom MacGuinness and Horseware Ireland for supporting the team and making it possible for so many to travel.
FEI CIE ** 120km (75 miles)
7th: Helen McFarland riding She Stoops to Conqueror
7th: Nicola Boud Tighe riding Inchaallah Claddah
FEI CIE 1* 80km (50 miles)
2nd: Mary Thompson riding Asperila
Ret: Andrea O'Carroll riding Kildalton Spice
FEI CIE 1* YR 80km (50 miles)
1st: Jacob Morrow riding Tambo
2nd: Morgan Skillan riding The Hollows Diamond
Ireland has a contingent of 6 riders heading for Seacliff - we wich them all luck...