Endurance Riding Ireland

News & Results

from ILDRA and the world of Endurance

Welcome to our news and results section.

Here you will find News and Information, Ride Reports, Photos and Results from the many activities ILDRA are involved with.

As a member you can send in stories to be included, must be ILDRA/Endurance related, along with any photos and we will try and include it.

Keep fully up-to-date with all our activities on Facebook as well.

EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus) Protocol

03 Mar 21

Representatives from Horse Sport Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the FEI IRL National Head Veterinarian and representatives from the Irish Equine Centre met last night to discuss and agree a risk management EHV-1 Protocol for FEI athletes and horses returning from the Iberian peninsula, the centre of the EHV-1 outbreak. This EHV-1 Protocol will also apply to all FEI horses returning to Ireland from France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia and will be effective immediately. IRL athletes based on the continent will have to contact their local veterinary authority of the relevant competent authority before they depart the show venue. It is important to note that FEI horses will only be permitted to leave such FEI venues when they are in possession of an official health certificate from the local Veterinary Authorities. Each venue will have stringent biosecurity EHV-1 Protocols in place and additional FEI Veterinary Delegates onsite. These movements will be notified via the EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES), which will allow entry via Irish ports.

It should be EHV-1 is not a Notifiable Disease in the context of the Notification and Control of Diseases Affecting Terrestrial Animals Regulations 2016.

Horse Sport Ireland, with support from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the IEC has moved quickly to devise a specific EHV-1 Protocol for returning FEI horses. This EHV-1 Protocol is consistent with our GBR counterparts.

The specifics of this EHV-1 Protocol were advised upon by Prof. Anne Cullinane, Head of Virology in the Irish Equine Centre. This EHV-1 Protocol includes strict isolation quarantine for horses, grooms and athletes, together with interval nasopharyngeal swabs which must be analysed by PCR testing, during the 14 day window.  The EHV-1 Protocol will provide for a step-by-step guidance in dealing with the matter.

Horse Sport Ireland are in contact with the IRL based athletes who are due to return in the coming days from the Iberian Coast and the Continent advising them of the seriousness of the matter, the valid concerns of the sport horse industry, and the duty and responsibility of each returning athlete/owner to ensure rigorous compliance with the EHV-1 Protocol. It should be noted that a significant number of the IRL athletes who are in Vejer de La Frontera will remain and continue to campaign for the remaining tours. Horse Sport Ireland will have adequate time to work through each athletes return timeframe and application of the EHV-1 Protocol.

Horse Sport Ireland will move to publish the EHV-1 Protocol shortly for all stakeholders involved in the movement of horses, to and from Ireland. This disease is not restricted to FEI horses and given the aggressive nature of the strain could be transmitted in any shipping context since the notification of the outbreak by the FEI.

Furthermore, sanctions arising from non-compliance have been extensively detailed to the parties. All of the returning FEI horses and athletes will be blocked on relevant affiliate entry systems, for national competitions and authorised training events , inclusive of any horses based in that athlete/owners yard. In respect of COVID 19, all athletes and support personnel returning will have to ensure a pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test is carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland, combined with 14-day quarantine period must be undertaken, subject to a negative RT-PCR test no less than 5 days after arrival.

Therefore, the message is abundantly clear, both from a significant equine welfare concern returning athletes/owners/support personnel must cooperate with the EHV-1 Protocol and follow all veterinary guidance. Both Horse Sport Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will monitor the situation closely, seeking disclosure of EHV-1 PCR testing, appointment of a designated HSI veterinarian to manage the compliance of the EHV-1 Protocol and veterinary clearance in advance of resumption of competition and mixing with the wider sport horse population.

With regard to IRL athletes who are compounded in Valencia (ESP) at present, Horse Sport Ireland are in constant contact with the affected parties and seeking to ensure all supports are available. The situation in Valencia is very difficult at present and Horse Sport Ireland are understand the gravity of the situation and have sought specific assistance from the FEI, the European Equestrian Federation and the International Jumpers Club. Horse Sport Ireland are advocating for a strong international mobilised response to this outbreak for the protection of the sport, and the indigenous sport horses industries within each European member state.


St Patrick's Coast Cancelled!

09 Jul 20

9th July 2020

It is with great regret that we have to announce that St. Patrick's Coast Ride 2020 has had to be cancelled as yet another casualty of the current covid-19 global pandemic. This decision has not been taken lightly but our first priority has to be the safety of everyone involved.

We have been in consultation with our venue and key supporter, the Racecourse, and also with other relevant bodies and landowners. We have to abide by the limiting protocols from Horse Sport Ireland and the Racecourse has similar obligations to Horse Racing Ireland. There are obviously overheads and huge efforts involved in running this ride and, unfortunately, with so much uncertainty as to the protocol situation in September we have had to make this decision to cancel the 2020 ride.

See full press release on St. Patrick's Coast Web Site




26 Jun 20

26th June 2020

The board and committee members of ILDRA have been hard at work planning for the re-emergence of our sport and as lockdown measures ease, we hope to have a provisional calendar ready shortly. In order to prioritise safety and comply with Covid directives, some changes have been made.

While we still welcome all who wish to participate, only ILDRA members will be able to take part in rides and various membership options will be available to suit every budget (details will be in the ride entry form).

  • Online entries will be mandatory, even for Pleasure Rides and no entries will be accepted on the day of the ride.
  • Numbers will also be limited so entries will close several days before the ride.
  • Riders will be given a start time (hopefully within their preferred time slot) and should arrive not more than 30 minutes before that time.
  • Riders will need to print out and display clearly in their vehicles a Ride Entry card that will be sent prior to the ride.
  • Riders may be accompanied / assisted by not more than one crew member/helper.
  • No log books may be handed in at rides and rosettes will not be given out.
  • Arrangements will be made for accumulated mileages to be awarded digitally (only annual members whose horses hold current log cards are eligible for mileage awards).
  • ILDRA’s Covid protocol will soon be available on Facebook and the ILDRA website.
  • The new arrangements will need more volunteers than ever to run our rides so please get in touch if you would like to help.

Thank you for your patience and we look forward to seeing you in the not too distant future.



26 Mar 20

23rd march 2020

It is with regret that ILDRA is suspending all public activity until at least end of June 2020. This suspension follows the latest guidance issued by the UK and Irish Governments in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. This position will be constantly reviewed given prevailing information.

We thank all of our members, organisers, riders, volunteers and their families to help to support each other during these unprecedented times. Please take this opportunity to check in on your friends and family near and far - let's give everyone the support they need over the coming months.

This morning (16th March) ILDRA received communication from Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) to inform us that all endurance events scheduled from now to the end of the month (29th March) are "not sanctioned and as a resulting consequence should not run".

The directive from HSI means that we are unable to run our event at Gosford Forest Park on the 22nd of March.

ILDRA will issue refunds, in full, for all entries already made. Refunds will be processed by the original means of payment.

Having taken sensible actions we would hope that we can depend on all the enabling bodies, ABC Council, HSI and DAERA-NI , etc to assist us with establishing an alternative date once the present situation has passed.

Thanks for your understanding.



04 Oct 19

Red Dragon  -  a wild weekend in Wales.

The Home International and Celtic Challenge competitions are among the most important events in the British and Irish endurance calendar and are the eagerly awaited culmination of the year for many endurance riders. With classes for every level from complete novice to experienced race rider, this year’s competition at the Red Dragon ride in Wales had record numbers and a really exciting atmosphere.

The 2019 Irish teams were open to riders from all recognised Endurance clubs in Ireland - given that Ireland had not taken part in last year’s competition, ILDRA was doubly delighted to be able to field two full teams this year, particularly as circumstances had removed some anticipated combinations from contention. In the event, Ireland was indebted to the generosity of Scottish Chef d’equipe, Francis Bakker, who kindly lent two horses for Irish team members’ use.

The preliminaries began on Friday with the team vetting (all horses successfully passed the pre-ride vetting) and the team parade - where the Irish unleashed their secret weapon - the leprechaun. Once set free, the leprechaun roamed widely, bringing havoc and mayhem to the Builth Wells showgrounds and further afield, over the Welsh hills, before being placed under matrimonial constraint and shipped back across the Irish Sea!

Competitors in the 2 day rides - 160km (100 miles), 120km (75 miles) and 80km (50 miles) and the 1 day 80km (50 miles) rides all set off from the venue early on Saturday morning to tackle the infamous ‘Red Dragon’ hill. Visibility on the top was virtually non-existent with heavy fog shrouding the landscape. Ground conditions varied from reasonable to deep and slippery and riders needed to exercise caution over the difficult terrain. Unfortunately by the end of the day Ireland had lost two riders, Savanja Frissen in the 160km class and Helen McFarland in the 80km class were both eliminated for minor lameness, however Mary Thompson and Sarah O’Neill both finished the 1 day 80km class, Jenni Cunningham and Scarlett Chapple successfully completed the 48km class and Claire Barry, Lois Cooper and Nathan Sweeney all sailed (or rather rode!) effortlessly through the first day of their 2 day 80km rides.

Riding conditions deteriorated overnight with further rain and the next day competitors were slogging through deep mud and heavy going over the unforgiving Welsh hills. The Irish team was to suffer one further misfortune when Esther Groen was eliminated at the start of the second day of the 160km ride, however the remainder of the Irish team dug deep and finished without any further mishaps with Mary Thompson completing the final 40km of her 2 day 120km ride, Claire Barry, Lois Cooper and Nathan Sweeney finishing the second half of the 2 day 80km ride and Bree Rutledge and Robyn Catterall successfully making the grade in the novice 40km class.

At a Championships such as this, riding the competition is only half the story, with a huge amount of work going on before and during the event, undertaken mainly by the chef d’equipe and her crew. Ireland was fortunate this year to secure the services of Hannah Catterall as chef d’equipe - Hannah brought not only her boundless enthusiasm and energy to the role but also her own considerable experience as a competitor over many years. All of the team benefitted greatly from her informal but efficient approach and the invaluable support also provided by family members Kirsten Catterall and Kathy Conly.

Team spirit is one of the most elusive and difficult qualities to foster in any sport but it was certainly evident in the Irish teams at Red Dragon this year.

Having suffered a number of casualties, the Irish teams knew that they were unlikely to be in contention for the major prizes, however the final results were actually quite close, with some spectacular individual results for Irish riders - Mary Thompson took 4th place in the 1 day 80km class and won the the 2 day 120km class outright. The two junior riders, Scarlett Chapple and Lois Cooper swept all before them with Scarlett winning Best Junior in the Home Internationals and Lois winning Best Junior in her 2 day 80km class and Best Celtic Challenge Junior. (One for the archivist - Lois’ participation as a junior team rider is an interesting example of the ‘family’ aspect of endurance in that Lois’ grandparents crewed for the first Irish international endurance rider, Barbara Elwell in the 1990’s).

Final results placed the teams respectively third (Home International) and fourth (Celtic Challenge) overall, by relatively narrow margins.

Having experienced the highs (and some lows) of major competition, the Irish teams are now enthused and ready for 2020, when Ireland will host the Home International and Celtic Challenge competitions. Plans are well underway for running the event and potential endurance enthusiasts are planning their season already!

The input required to coordinate such a major event is massive - whether your talents lie in riding, crewing or organising, there will be a role for you to play - get in touch with us at info@enduranceridingireland.com if you would like to be part of our 2020 vision for endurance in Ireland. Details of forthcoming rides and news can be found on the ILDRA website www.enduranceridingireland.com or on our Facebook page. 

Team members 

Home International

  • Esther Groen: Watt du Colombier
  • Mary Thompson: Positano HLM
  • Helen McFarland: She stoops to Conquer
  • Claire Barry: HS Alto
  • Scarlett Chapple: RSPCA Magic
  • Bree Rutledge: Clovermount Rhinestone

Celtic Challenge

  • Savanja Frissen: Asphodele
  • Sarah O’Neill: Samba B
  • Nathan Sweeney: Hamdanieh Farah
  • Lois Cooper: Heatherglen’s Madeleine
  • Jenni Cunningham: Aratahnes Phoebe
  • Robyn Catterall: Aratahnes Adonis


Cam Forest

25 Aug 19