Sunday 14th October 2018 was the final leg of West Cork TREC’s Summer League. Less than a week after the country had got a battering from Storm Callum and subsequent days of wet and miserable weather, the dawn broke to reveal a calm and dry day, with morning sunshine promising some reasonably warm conditions for a day in mid-October (although the wind started to pick up in the early afternoon, and occasionally blew a little on the bitter side).
The first of the horseboxes began arriving at Bantry Bay Pony Trekking Centre shortly before 10.45am, followed by another and another, with the yard quickly filling up. Riders, judges and helpers began to move obstacles into their place around the arena, spacing out slalom poles, setting up the s-bend, jump, footbridge and the other obstacles, under the instruction from the chef-de-piste and the technical delegate.
The start of the actual competition was delayed, during which time the chef-de-piste gave a course walk and explanation of obstacles which was of great benefit for competitors who were new or inexperienced in TREC PTV obstacles.
After judges and assistants were allocated their obstacles, the first competitor entered the arena and we were off… The first two obstacles, the ridden corridor and slalom, were fast and some of the riders managed to get a nice canter through both. Control was required immediately after the slalom as the rider had to slow to a walk to negotiate the footbridge. Around the corner from the footbridge was the reinback, with some riders cantering from a standstill out of the reinback to pop over a jump. Skill and control was required here to gather the horse again for mounted immobility without passing through or beyond the circle. A knotted rope strung between 2 jump stands sufficed for a gate next. The method required to open the gate, move the horse through and close the gate again without letting go is more or less the same whether it be a rope or solid gate. However, this was a strange and new design for many of our equines and their riders to face, and was not without some refusals. The ridden S-Bend was next, with the rider dismounting to do the next three obstacles in-hand. The last of these three was the in-hand gate – without the previous drama as all the horses and ponies followed their riders quite happily through. Mounting from the offside was next, some riders having to think really hard about which foot to raise up to the stirrup. Once mounted, the rider took a diagonal line across the arena over the fake ditch, another obstacle newly introduced to our group’s repertoire of indoor obstacles, and it was not without a few problems. Riders had to turn sharply after the ditch to get back to the footbridge for a second time, followed by both the slalom and ridden corridor again, allowing for a quick turn of speed through to the finish line.
There was a break after the intermediate level riders had finished, allowing those judging to go and get their horses ready, and those who had just completed their competition had to put their horses away so they could judge the novice riders. The course was the same for both levels, though heights and widths of certain obstacles are adjusted to reduce the level of difficulty.
Once the last rider had finished their round, the course was dismantled and put away – many hands make light work as the saying goes. Shortly afterwards, the scorer announced the results, and rosettes were handed out accordingly. Group photographs were taken, and a steady rumble of horseboxes heading home commenced.
We hope everyone enjoyed the day and we would like to thank Bantry Bay Pony Trekking for the use of their lovely indoor arena, we are very grateful to be able to use their facility. Our thanks too to all the competitors, judges and helpers for taking part and supporting us. We would especially like to thank Siobhán Wolf for taking on the role of course designer (chef de piste) for the first time and for challenging our riders, Bastian for being our technical delegate, and Jill as event secretary/scorer.