Training 17th October - PTV in Bantry
In preparation for the beginning of our winter league, we started nice and easy with a PTV training session, where the riders attempted a handful of obstacles both ridden and in-hand. In total there were 8 riders and a handful of volunteers. Trainers Elaine and Frances split the riders into two groups of 4; group one would ride first while group two would be on foot, gaining experience from a judges perspective. Learning what the judges look for helps the rider learn what mistakes to avoid.
The trainers took two riders each to opposite ends of the arena, and with the volunteers/helpers similarly divided, the first training session began. The riders got to practise the obstacles prepared with help and advice from the trainers on their performances. After the rider had completed the obstacle Elaine and Frances then asked the opinions of those on the ground, the “judges” to mark them: did the rider demonstrate the correct approach and negotiate the obstacle correctly? What marks were awarded for gait or style? Armed with the obstacle data sheets and score sheets, the judges debated how they would score the rider’s performance, thus learning how to fill in the score sheets correctly.
When the riders had done all of the obstacles in the arena, they were then given the opportunity to do their own course of 8 obstacles, in whatever order they wanted, in-hand or ridden, or both. The volunteers on the ground could pick an obstacle and judged that obstacle, while those with more judging experience chose to judge a number of obstacles. After a break for lunch, it was then the turn of group 2 to ride, while group 1 would judge.
Overall, the day was a success, many questions were asked, riders and judges alike learned a lot. We are all now looking forward to the league event in November.
Training 18th July (MA/PTV) in Knockraha
A glorious day set the scene for the MA and PTV training in Knockraha. While only a small group attended, they made the most of it. Once again split into two groups, where 3 did MA with Bastian and Megan, with Frances taking the PTV training groups to go through some of the days obstacles and a full walk of the course. Over at the MA Bastian started with some theory behind the collected canter and the fast walk needed for the phase. They then moved on to the practical side of the MA, each taking timed turns to canter up and walk down. While the theory behind it may seem straightforward and simple putting the theory into action is more difficult than it seems. The groups then switched, and Elaine took over from Frances for the PTV. We then broke for a quick socially distanced lunch. After lunch the stewards for the PTV course were sent out to their posts, basking in the glorious sunshine awaiting the arrival of the riders and trying their hands at amateur photography. The feedback from the riders was encouraging, boasting this training session another success. Them having both gained new insights into the MA and PTV and also enjoying their day out.
Training 27th June (MA/PTV) in Macroom
Our second training event took place in Macroom. It was our first training session on MA and PTV. Riders arrived at half 10, setting off on a course walk with the Chef de Piste – Adele – while the finishing touches were being put on the MA and PTV. On the agenda for the PTV training were the 4 new (Non-Championship) PTV obstacles: Ticket Punch, One Handed Figure of 8 (marked on style), One Handed Corridor, One Handed Slalom. Split into two groups, Frances took one group through PTV obstacles, while Bastian took the second group through the MA. While atop their noble steeds, both groups were lectured in the theory for both sections and then moved on to the practical side. Once both groups had run through their respective trainings, the groups then swapped. Elaine taking over for Frances – allowing her to take part in the MA training with Bastian. After a quick spot of lunch, stewards for the PTV were organised and sent to their posts. The riders for group 1 (individually) then rode the PTV course practicing all the obstacles including the 4 new obstacles at the end to finish off, once all group 1 riders had completed the course they then swapped with some of the stewards who belonged to group 2. Some opted for a second round and took off again for their second go at the end of their respective groups. After a great day of training and magnificent weather, the obstacles were taken down and everyone headed home happy from a good day of training full of insightful learning.
Training 30th May (POR) in Ballydehob
After many months of being in our longest lockdown in Ireland due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lifting of some restrictions meant that outdoor sports training in groups of up to 15 people were permitted.
It was decided that our first outing for 2021 would be a POR training session, since there we would be able to time arrivals and departures to keep interactions between groups of riders down to a minimum level within any area at any one time.
With its many intersecting and quiet country lanes, the area between Schull and Ballydehob was a popular choice by the organisers. Once the venue was confirmed, the organising began. To reduce the number of journeys he would need to make to the area, Bastian enlisted help from local resident and fellow traceur Ian, who set about finding some off-road riding sections along a few farm lanes and securing permission from landowners to permit access to these routes. Bastian and Ian worked their magic and soon the tracing was finished, and the planned route was plotted ready for the day’s training session.
Sunday 30th May 2021 arrived, and the blue sky made the day seem even more special. Instead of our usual sign-in process, we instead ticked names off the attendance sheet, and the COVID officer scanned the temperature of all attendees to confirm that no-one attending had a fever. It was wonderful to see familiar faces again. One person said they loaded their horse that morning with such a grin on their face from the excitement and as they drove along the road towards Ballydehob it felt that they were coming home, such was the feeling of contentment and familiarity.
While Bastian took one group for training on compass bearings and other advanced POR techniques, the riders who had opted out of the compass training got their horses ready and presented themselves to the steward at CP1 (checkpoint 1) at the top of the yard. Maps in hand, the first pair of riders mounted up and rode out of the gate on their first stage. A short time later, a trio (two experienced treccies who were joined by a young rider on her first ever POR) followed suit. With the theory training over, the next pair of riders saddled up and departed the yard, followed by the only individual rider for the day, and lastly a trio of ladies from East Cork.
The route took the riders westward and along part of the Butter Road, then headed south towards CP2. The sea views were a treat for all the riders; the glistening blue sea dotted with numerous islands (part of the Carbery’s Hundred Isles) and also the Fastnet Rock. Leaving CP2, the riders continued south to Derreenatra, and then west to Rossbrin, before turning northward up a small farm track and on to the quiet country lanes around Ballycummisk, down into a small valley and up the far side. Continuing on the road northward, the riders found themselves back in the townland of Stouke. Their route not yet over, the riders had to ignore the turning that would take them towards the yard, and continue northward to CP3 where the horses were given a short breather. Leaving CP3, the riders continued in a northerly direction for about 300m where they found another off-road section. After successfully negotiating their way along this section, the riders ended up on a small lane where they first headed south a short distance before joining a farm track which brought them in a southwesterly direction, checking in at the last checkpoint CP4 stationed just before the yard. Not everyone had made it this far as three riders had had to retire at different stages along the route for a variety of reasons. It was about 4pm when the last group of riders arrived back at the yard, happy with their day’s excursion. One by one the horseboxes were loaded and riders began to disperse, and the CP stewards returned from their designated locations with their clocks, speed signs and entry/exit flags.
It was great to be out and about and and meeting old friends again (albeit at a distance of 2m or more), and many enthusiastic comments were made about the route, with so much of it being off-road, and the glorious sunshine that made the day’s event such a fantastic start to the year.
Results were emailed out to the riders during the week following the event as we were still not permitted to stay on site longer than necessary.
Our thanks to Bastian and Ian for their wonderful job tracing the route, to Bastian again for the theory training at the start, for Shirley, Megan, Ellie and Jill as CP stewards, to Billy for the use of his yard as the venue, to all the landowners who permitted us access across their land, and last (but not least) our thanks to all the riders (Richard, Mary, Judith, Jo, Adèle, Tara, Dave, Sheila, Elaine, Frances and Siobhán) for travelling from near and far.
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