Endurance Riding Ireland


It will follow directly after the EGM


Sat 24 Nov 2018


Click to read Sally Toye

Report & Results:


At the AGM of the association held on 24th November 2018 (after the EGM, above) the following directors were elected;

Cora Roche (1 year tenure)

Neil Anderson (2 year tenure)

Helen McFarland (3 year tenure)

It was noted that each of the two branches (Leinster and Ulster) was also entitled to nominate a representative to serve as director on the board.

The interim chairman gave a report on 2018 ILDRA activities. (see below)

The accounts for 2017 were presented and approved and a report on 2018 finances, based on the financial details available to the treasurer, was given.

Members should note that, pending the first meeting of the new board of directors and the designation of appointments within the board, Helen McFarland will remain as interim chair and the existing functioning committees will continue to have conduct of any ongoing business. Kathy Conly remains in position as Company Secretary.


Chairman’s address


Thank you all for attending – I know that everyone is here to support the best interests of Irish Endurance Riding – I am occupying this chair today merely in an interim capacity, the chairman of ILDRA having resigned as both chair and director last month, so please bear with me as I try to recap events over the past 12 months – it’s certainly not something I expected to be doing 2 months ago and I am indebted to members and chairs of both branches who have helped jog my memory. I should of course express the thanks of the association to Peter O’Carroll and the board of directors for the amount of effort they have all put in over the year, on an entirely voluntary basis.

2018 Activities

We are aware that 2018 has been in many ways a difficult year for ILDRA because of internal tensions and problems, however it may help to remind us why we are all here – to serve the interests of a marvellous sport which we all enjoy – if I bring out some of the positives of the year. We tend to forget what a hard start we had to the year weather-wise and both branches did well to get up and running – Leinster Branch ran a total of 16 rides from Feb to Nov including the National Championships, attracting a total of 230 riders, split 178 PR and 52 CTR -very positive figures particularly as they represent a significant increase in rider numbers. Ulster ran 19 rides with a total of 629 riders of which 66 were CTR. Ulster Branch also oversaw the running of St. Patrick’s Coast Ride with over 100 participants. None of these rides could operate without the hours of work put in by organisers and helpers and we all know who they are – the same very few people who bear the brunt of the criticism and often get little or no reward for the jobs they do – please show your appreciation now in the usual manner and please if you have not already done so, put your name forward to assist them next year.

It is greatly encouraging to see young riders progressing and I make particular mention of Aoife Sherry and Madison Flaherty who both achieved Gold Shamrock status this year, also one of our youngest riders, 10 year old Willow O’Carroll who successfully started her Bronze Shamrock qualifications. It’s worth bearing those names in mind because they represent the culmination of a Young Riders initiative by Andrea O’Carroll a couple of years ago so it is gratifying to see this following through.

At the opposite end of the spectrum can I mention some of the lifetime achievements of an equine athlete who is stepping down from top level competition – Kath Conly’s Ellanora – who in 2018 celebrated her 20th consecutive season in endurance – she has completed FEI competitions as well as that strenuous endurance achievement – a 2 day 160km – she has brought numerous riders through their Shamrock qualifications – a recent count showed that she had assisted well over 20 endurance riders, most of them juniors. I don’t know if you are aware just how rare it is in the

modern endurance world to see such longevity but it is a true testament to the good and consistent management by her owners and riders and also to the effectiveness of the ILDRA Shamrock system. On the training and education side, Ulster Branch supported by St. Patrick’s Coast Ride, organised an evening with Sally Toye who gave an inspirational talk on her experiences at the Mongol Derby. Those of a young and fiery disposition who attended were suitably enthused and the more world weary among us were eternally grateful that we did not have to spend 10 nights sleeping on the steppes of Central Asia listening to the howls of not too distant wolves!

International Activities

We are a very small association but we punch well above our weight on the world stage and several of our Irish based riders have had international success this year – Martin McNamara who made a swift ascent through the Shamrock grades to burst on the FEI scene, our Young Riders, Madison Flaherty and Jacob Morrow and our very slightly more mature riders Nikki Boud Tighe and Mary Thompson all attended FEI rides in GB and further afield representing Ireland with distinction. Tom Macguinness’ FEI endurance successes across the globe this year have been almost too many to list and he currently features prominently in the FEI world rankings.

And of course talking of international rides brings me to our intrepid WEG team for which I was honoured to act as chef d’equipe – now if you think ILDRA has problems believe me they pale into insignificance compared with this year’s WEG. But irrespective of what went wrong there, our team of Avril Bray,Hilda Donahue, Jane Moss and Tom Macguinness did Ireland proud, earning respect and praise for their actions, riding skills and horse management tactics.

Room for improvement.

So those are the positives we can take out of the year, but we would be sticking our heads in the sand if we failed to acknowledge errors and omissions made along the way – some of these have already been highlighted in the EGM and I don’t propose to revisit them. However, there was one significant gap in the ILDRA calendar this year - the Home International/Celtic Challenge competition - if you will allow me to give you a personal perspective on the importance of this particular event. For the first time in my memory ILDRA had neither team nor individual representation at what, for most riders, will be the summit of their endurance experience. Speak to anyone in this room who has for example gone to Red Dragon on a Home International team and crested the top of the first hill through the early morning mist - they will tell you nothing else compares. Unlike FEI or race riding, which is only ever going to be within the scope of the minority of riders, participation in a Home International or Celtic Challenge team is achievable by anyone who can stay in the saddle for 25 miles/40km (every rider in the room?). For a small endurance nation like Ireland, where many rides take place within the confines of Forest Parks and attract only a limited number of entrants, it also provides a useful introduction to major competition. I make no apology for being passionate about this competition – it was the excitement of being the Novice member of the Celtic Challenge team in my first year of endurance riding that got me truly hooked and took me from that Novice position to competing at WEG, World and European Championships and experiencing rides like Cairngorm, Golden Horseshoe and Tevis. So, having no representation this year was a very retrograde step and one which we should be looking to address – now is the time you as riders should be planning your forthcoming season to culminate at Red Dragon in October2019 – now is the time you as crew and admin support should be booking your holidays to assist your riders.


Thank you for your patience and please forgive any glaring omissions. Thank you not only to those who’ve attended today but also to all those absent who have expressed support for ILDRA through their proxy votes and to our many friends across the wider equestrian and endurance community for their support.

Endurance Riding is a minority sport in Ireland – it needs its proponents to work together in its interests to ensure its survival and I hope that 2019 will be the start of that enterprise.

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More Details:

The Main ILDRA AGM will take place at City North Hotel this year on Saturday 24th November 2018.

It will follow directly after the EGM that has been called for the same day - It is to start at 14:00pm

The Dinner and Awards night will now be scheduled for a later date, in the new year, and details will be published here and on social media when organised.