ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) headed to the West of the country to the hidden gem of Knockmany Forest Park near Augher on August 19. Pleasure rides and Competitive Trail Rides were on offer on the day for the riders. A drizzly start to the day soon warmed up to what became quite humid riding conditions.
The attending vet on the day was Quirine Tettelaar, MVetMed, MRCVS. Quirine is new to the sport of endurance and she did a brilliant job of checking all of the CTR horses before and after the completion of their respective rides. Many of the riders attending the Knockmany Forest Park ride were putting in some conditioning and fitness training before the St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride on September 1. Offering some of the most stunning views of the County Down landscape, this ride offers something for everyone, both pleasure and endurance riders! Be sure to get your ride entry in for what is Ireland’s premier endurance ride soon. Please note that all entries to St. Patrick’s Coast, including pleasure rides, must be made in advance online at: www.event-pal.com/ onlineEntries/
A steep climb to the summit of Knockmany awaited the riders, past the meandering rivers of the mixed woodland. Knockmany summit is the site of a chambered cairn of an ancient passage grave. It is a site of great historic value, as the chamber is decorated with one of the best examples of passage tomb artwork in the North of Ireland. The descent through the forest offers breath-taking views across the rolling landscape of County Fermanagh and County Monaghan. Rich blackberries and towering trees surrounded the riders through the final few miles towards the car park. Congratulations go to all of the CTR riders, who all successfully completed a 20-mile endurance ride.
The changing weather conditions and variable climate of Northern Ireland means that endurance riders must be prepared to adapt their riding style and speed to ensure that their horses can cope with the riding conditions over the testing terrain in order to successfully complete their distances and vettings. This is a vital aspect of endurance riding, understanding how your horse copes under different conditions and is a key part of ensuring you have a fit, sound horse who can cope with his required work. The fitness work offered by partaking in endurance or pleasure riding is a sound basis to build upon for other disciplines within the sport of horse riding.
Many thanks go to the forestry service for allowing access to Knockmany Forest Park and to the ride organisers of the Conly family for marking and running the ride on the day.
The next ride will be at St. Patrick’s Coast at Downpatrick Racecourse on September 1. Please see the designated Facebook page for St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride, the website: www.stpatrickscoast.com or the ride organiser, David Cunningham for further information.
Sunday, August 19
32km (20 miles): Helen McFarland, J St Jake; Morgan Skillen, Just C’Mall; Jocelyn Willis, Sam; Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne.