ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) returned for the second time this year to the magnificent Baronscourt Estate near Newtownstewart on Sunday, May 5. Arguably one of ILDRA’s most stunning locations, Baronscourt Estate offers a range of varied trails and beautiful views for ILDRA’s riders to enjoy.
Springtime weather made for excellent riding conditions on the day. The trail rides at Baronscourt cover a range of environments from lakesides to mountainous views across the County Tyrone landscape. The Estate’s three lakes make for tranquil riding conditions, with endless woodlands covered in bluebells making for some perfect photo opportunities. Vibrant colours of rampant rhododendrons planted close to the grand Baronscourt House also made for beautiful viewing. Deer could be spotted springing across the woodland trails along with young pheasants.
David Nealon, MRCVS, was the attending veterinarian on the day and was kept busy checking over the several endurance horses. With increased competition distances, mid-way ride checks are required for riders taking part to ensure that their horses are fit to continue, keeping attending vets very busy! Helen McFarland on ‘J St Jake’ successfully completed a 50 mile ride at Baronscourt, both Helen and ‘Jake’ are very well experienced in the knowledge and training required to complete long distance rides.
Completing a ride of 50 miles or more is not the aspiration of every endurance rider, some simply enjoy covering 20 to 25 miles of beautiful ground with their horses, exploring hidden locations for riding across Northern Ireland. Such a competition, which captures the inclusive nature of endurance is the Home Internationals and Celtic Challenge competition, which offers riders of all ages and abilities the chance to represent Ireland. This year, Wales is hosting the Home Internationals and Celtic Challenge at The British Horse Feed’s Red Dragon Festival of Endurance on October 5 and 6. ILDRA strongly encourages riders to come and try endurance with several team positions to fill, including those specifically for novice riders and horses, who have never competed in endurance before. The world of endurance is extremely friendly and ILDRA is always happy to offer support and advice to anyone wishing to try out CTRs (Competitive Trail Rides).
Thanks, must go to the ride organisers of Kathy and Alastair Conly for marking and running the ride on the day. Thanks also go to the Duke of Abercorn and the Estate staff for allowing access to Baronscourt Estate and its wonderful trails. ILDRA’s next ride is at Cam Forest near Garvagh on May 26, offering CTR and pleasure rides. A reminder to all CTR riders to enter online or via post. For further information, check ILDRA’s website or ILDRA’s facebook page.
12 miles (20km) Pony Club Merlin:
Amy Murphy, Sweet Honey Bee.
25 miles (40km):
Emma Hayes, Yasser Arafat; Jocelyn Willis, Sam; Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne; Ruth Lyness, Amber.
50 miles (80km):
Helen McFarland, J St Jake.