OVER the weekend of September 25 and 26, Para Equestrian Ireland (PEI), supported by Dressage Ireland, hosted a three-day test riding dressage clinic in Castle Irvine, Necarne, Co. Fermanagh.
Riders, both para and able-bodied, came from all over Ireland to attend the camp. Each rider had two training sessions with Clive Millkens, international para and able-bodied coach (recently returned from the Paralympics) and two test riding sessions with Sarah Rogers, 5* FEI para dressage and BD list 2 dressage judge.
Riders decided their own dressage tests and Sarah gave live feedback on the test riding. For some riders, this was their first exposure to dressage test riding and it has given many of them confidence to go out and compete. For other more experienced riders, the training followed by test riding enabled them to pinpoint their mistakes and how to ride movements to maximise their marks.
The camp also had two evening presentations. On Friday evening, Esther Skelly Smith of Shanaghan Veterinary Services demonstrated how to assess lameness and care for the older horse and how riders can influence the soundness of a horse. She demonstrated bottom tucks, carrot stretches and exercises to help strengthen a horse and improve soundness.
Jo Alderton, International para groom discussed the minefield of horse inspections at international shows and the need to build mutual respect on the ground between horse and rider/ groom.
On Saturday evening in the Walled Garden, Pegasus gave a demonstration and talk on Dressage to Music Freestyle. Jill Hobson kindly demonstrated two floor plans with different music.
The camp was held in Castle Irvine, horses were stabled in the courtyard and riders availed of the wonderful hacks in the estate. PEI gratefully acknowledge donations given by Esme Mitchell Trust and Beltrim Charitable Trust.