THE Association of Irish Riding Clubs has undergone some major personnel changes this year, but these did not prevent the organisation from running its popular two-day Festival at the Mullingar Equestrian Centre last weekend.

“It required a very big team effort,” commented Copperfield member Louise Duffy, who was elected the first female chairperson of the AIRC in early May.

“Thanks to all that Elaine Dunne did in the office, and the work of the Board of Directors and the National Committee members, we pulled the weekend together with the help of the Fagan family of Mullingar.”

The Festival continues to be supported by The Irish Field (dressage), Horse Sport Ireland (showing) and TRI Equestrian (show jumping) with the team competitions in dressage and show jumping being fiercely contested.

The AIRC introduced a new show jumping championship this year for RC70 and RC80 competitors, which had been sought by members, but could have been better supported in the qualifying rounds.

A feature of the Festival is the range of ages between competitors – both human and equine – and these are catered for in dressage and show jumping.

Unlike most dedicated horse shows or agricultural shows in this country, there are also separate classes in the showing section for novice riders.

The breed classes, both flat and performance, continue to prove popular and while Tony Ennis stepped down as chairman of the board of directors in March, he must be delighted to see that not only is the Festival continuing to run the classes for thoroughbreds/ex-racehorses, which he introduced to the schedule, but that more and more classes for these horses are being run outside the riding club movement at shows all around the country.

For reports on the AIRC Festival, see pages 92-95.