This year’s show took place on Monday 31st October at the Ecclesville centre in Fintona.
We entered 2 teams – a Novice Team – jumping heights of 65-70cm, and an Open Team – jumping heights of 85-90cm. It was an Indoor arena.
The novice competition had 16 entries and the Open had 9. A strongly competitive field.
As part of the fun throughout the day, there was a Run-Ride Novelty competition. This took place after the first 4 classes and just before the Novice class. A good chance to give the horses a bit of a warm-up! In this class, one person runs over three of the jumps and once that is done, a separate rider and horse will jump the next 4. It is timed, and the top 6 pairs win a prize. Two of our riders decided to enter with siblings and great fun was had!
12-45pm – time for the Novice competition… We were second in the draw, so got the chance to see one team go ahead of us. After this, it was all systems go.
Olivia Weir jumped first achieving a double clear on her horse Bluebell. They took the course carefully, ensuring each jump was approached at just the right angle and speed. This was one of only a few competitions for Bluebell. A great achievement.
Sophia Williams jumped next, also achieving a Double clear on her horse, Rossfad Runaway. This was also a very well worked out plan, with horse and rider clearly at ease with one another, jumping cleanly and comfortably.
Tiana-Grace Abbott on Henry was our third team member; the pairing had a strong start, but with a slight twitch of nerves, picked up a fault for refusing a jump. Undeterred, Tiana-Grace brought him round for a second attempt – with no problem. They continued successfully.
Due to the rules of ‘countback’ where a fault has occurred, our team did not make the jump-off for the final 6 teams. We did however go through to the Individuals with both Olivia and Sophia. Both girls did extremely well, but were just pipped at the post by a few seconds.
Our Open Team had a very long wait until their competition. Not beginning until after 5pm. This time we were number 8 in the draw! A very nerve wracking wait, not helped by the onset of fireworks. This spooked some of the horses and forced a decision by the organisers. This decision had an unsettling effect on many riders and their horses as it affected their warm-up routine. Competitors were asked not to warm-up in the outdoor arena. They were offered instead two attempts at a jump in the Indoor arena just before their turn to jump. This didn’t bode well for some already nervous horses.
As we watched each competitor take their turn, it was obvious that this was a tough course. Several bars were knocked down, or jumps refused.
First up for ERGS was Mairead Gartland on Jigsaw. She started strongly, but her horse was very young and had only been jumping at this height for a couple of months. He had a tough round, but plenty of promise there for the next competition.
Next up was Sasha Milne on Lily. With a slightly nervy start, they got into their stride when out of the blue, Lily refused a jump. Sasha schooled her over the next time and they continued well, unfortunately, there was another refusal towards the end. Again, they re-jumped and completed the course. A good effort under adverse conditions.
Finally, we had Natalie Somerville on Beauty. Having watched her teammates before her, Natalie was determined to do her best. This she did, coming away with a double clear round. One of the few of the competition.
I was delighted to watch the competition and see for myself how much time and effort is spent by parents, competitors and organisers.
This has been a first for both of our teams, competing under the umbrella of Enniskillen Royal Grammar School. I wish to thank them and their parents for the dedication they put into training, competing and travelling.