THE Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC) is an equestrian sports organisation with around 3,400 members. Their primary focus is to enjoy equestrianism at all levels from beginner right up to experienced and dedicated riders. There are many benefits to joining an affiliated club, including third party liability and personal accident insurance at AIRC events, a wide range of training and competitive structures including regional qualifiers and championships, to name just a few.
Without doubt, the most important aspect of riding club life is the social life associated with a shared passion. Members join clubs from all walks of life and their four-legged partners are equally varied. Whether you’re an accomplished competitor or an enthusiastic beginner, you’ll find others just like you at riding club. Everyone has questions when it comes to horses and riding. Whether it is advice on feeding, help in sourcing truly comfortable underwear (don’t underestimate its importance!) or a helping hand to get the trailer turned, you’ll find other members will gladly help out.
Riding club competitions are the ideal place to dip your toes into the competitive sphere. Coaching sessions will help prepare you and your mount and there are always plenty of helping hands on the day. With show jumping and cross-country competitions, ranging from tiny cross-poles to the impressive heights of the 1.20m, every ability of both horse and rider are catered for at club level, while riders who prefer to stick to the level can stretch their boundaries through the dressage scene.
The 3,400 AIRC members are spread over 130 clubs, which are themselves divided between eight regions within the country. Donegal belongs to the western region, which includes the counties of Clare, Galway, Mayo and Sligo. In recognition of the fact that the western region is such a large area, the AIRC executive allowed the formation of the North West sub-region. Donegal abú (to Donegal the victory)!
At the time of writing, the North West Riding Clubs is made up of five clubs in Co. Donegal: Donegal Gaeltacht (covering the north west of Donegal), Inishowen (including members from the Derry area), Letterkenny (including the middle and east of Donegal), Tirconaill (covering the west of Donegal) and Stracomer (covering the southern end of Donegal). Regional training days bring members from all the clubs together for sociable training, as do inter-club rideouts and barbeques. Pre-covid, an annual dinner dance was a great excuse to get out of the breeches and boots and don some glad rags for a night of guitar shattering fun. Fingers crossed we’ll enjoy one again soon.
If you are 17 or older and are interested in joining the club in your area, contact the relevant person from the list below. Organisers would love to meet you and introduce you to the fun of the club!
Donegal Gaeltacht: Ciara Boyle, Tel: 00 353 (0)87 217 1962; email@example.com
Inishowen: Grace Rodgers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Letterkenny: Erica Robb, Tel: 00 353 (0)86 441 3744; email@example.com
Tirconail: Charlie Vial, Tel: 00 353 (0)87 254 8208; firstname.lastname@example.org
Stracomer: Erin Fergus, Tel: 00 353 (0)86 390 5842; email@example.com
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