2014 has been a momentous year for Dressage in Ireland, with many successes for many riders at all levels, regional, national and on the international stage. Dressage has been growing and growing in popularity within Ireland and continues to thrive as we move into 2015. The Northern Region looks back at the successes that our northern riders have had throughout the year.
In April 2014, the Irish National Winter Finals took place at Cavan Equestrian centre. As usual there were a high number of Northern Riders qualified to compete and fantastic number of these riders gaining championship wins and placings.
In the Preliminary Championship, Sharon Watters and the black Friesian Stallion Menno Fan Wetsensbosch, took the championship title, with a great score of over 72%. In the Novice championship, another Northern Rider clinched a championship win, Mark Robinson on Jovian Moon, Mark also gained a good finishing result with his second horse in this category. Sharon Watters gained another good result taking 4th place and Nicola McKee also took 5th place. In the category two Novice, Ryan Hopper and Keeford Freckleton Montrose, just missed out on the top spot taking 2nd place with Claire Sedgeman taking 3rd place. In the Elementary, Joanne Jarden also claimed a placing coming 6th with MJI Wendy. In the Medium championship Carolyn Mellor took the runner up slot with VSH Beaulero and Katie Burns took 3rd with Caracas II.
The Advanced Medium saw Carolyn take the 1st of her championship wins riding VSH Florenciano, Laragh Hamilton was also in the placings, coming 6th with Red and White. The Advanced Class gave Carolyn Mellor her second championship title again with VSH Florenciano. Two more northern riders gained placings with Yvette Truesdale coming 2nd on Witto and Becky Cullen 3rd on the stallion Glenhill Gold. In the Prix St George, two riders gained placings, Carolyn Mellor on VSH Zugaro in 3rd and Lucy Adams on Get Set in 4th. Carolyn also gained 2nd place in the Intermediaire 1 class with Zugaro. In the Under 25yrs championship, Nicola McKee claimed a 3rd place. The winter Finals brought many successes and those taking a top 4 slot also had the added bonus of gaining qualification for the prestigious British Dressage Masters Championship at Hickstead.
At the end of June, six Irish Riders travelled to Hickstead to represent Ireland in the Masters Championship. Four of those riders came from the Northern Region. The Hickstead Masters, co-ordinated by Irish international rider Dane Rawlins, brings together the top dressage combinations at each level from across the UK, all having to gain qualification to get the chance to compete. Once again the northern riders had tremendous success. Sharon Watters gave a good performance in the Preliminary Championship in a large class of over 50 riders, to take 4th place with a score of 72%, less that 1 % separating the top 4 combinations highlighted just how competitive this class was. Sharon also gave a consistent performance in the Novice championship. Claire Sedgeman and Silken Art took part in the Novice championship and gained a creditable score of over 69%. Claire slotted into 9th place overall, the top 8 riders all gaining scores over 70% demonstrates the very high standard on show in this class, Ryan Hopper also took part in the Preliminary and Novice championships gaining solid scores well over 65%.
Carolyn Mellor also gave a good performance claiming 3rd place in a very closely fought Advanced Medium championship with one judge awarding her 72%. All four northern regions riders were delighted with their results and how their horses handled the pressure at such a big venue.
July was also a busy month, this time for the young riders and Junior Riders from the region. The Silver Spurs nationwide competition gives young and junior riders the opportunity to compete for a fantastic training bursary. Three Northern riders competed in the final stages of the Silver Spurs competition, after gaining qualification at the assessment days across Ireland. Erin Burns took 4th place in the semi final in the under 12s section. Rachael Coulter took 3rd place in the under 25s and Megan McGrath took 2nd place in the under 25 section. These fantastic results show the great promise for the future with many talented junior and young riders coming through in the northern region. At the end of July the British Pony Club Championships, two northern riders, also pony club members, travelled to Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire, to represent Area 17. Again demonstrating the talent in our young riders, with Sophie Williams and Admiral’s Voyage won their arena and went through to the final ride off in the Open Section.
Rachael Coulter on Gorsehill Maya also went into the Open Ride off, giving an outstanding performance to win the UK Open Championship. Rachael also went on to come 4th in the Elite class. Upon returning to Northern Ireland, the young riders in the region then went on to compete in the Irish Inter Regional Team Championship at the end of July at Coil Og. Consisting of Olivia Shaw and Sundial Cuddy, Megan McGrath and Romanno Frerejacques, Rachael Coulter and Gorsehill Maya and Megan McGrath and Dhumavarna, the northern team gave a solid performance to take 6th place overall.
The Pony European Championships also took place this summer, hosted by Ireland and held in Millstreet, the Irish fielded a very strong junior team and northern region rider Katie Burns was selected as an Irish Team member on her 12 year old Bay Gelding Caracus II. Although this was the 1st time Katie had ridden at international level, she rode with precision and experience to gain consistent scores, achieving over 65% in her individual test.
It is fair to say that the future of Dressage in Ireland and in particular the northern region looks incredibly bright with such talented junior and young riders coming to the fore.
September 2014, saw the annual Irish National Championships take place again in Cavan Equestrian Centre. Once again the Northern Riders were there in abundance gaining many, many placings and fantastic results in all classes and championships. In the Preliminary Championship ride off, Michael Boyd took 6th place. In the Novice category 1, Caroline Herron riding Clantara Midnight Classic took the top spot, winning the Championship title, with Sharon Watters riding Menno Fan Wetsensbosch coming in at 5th place. In the Novice Category 2 class, two more northern riders were successful. Megan McGrath on Romanno Frerejacques took 3rd place and Joan Adrain on ChitChat coming 6th. In the Elementary, the championship was won by Yvette Truesdale on Woodcroft Waltzer, with Courtney Stuart taking 5th place with Betty Boo II and Caroline Herron continuing her success taking 6th place. In the Medium Championship, Carolyn Mellor claimed victory to take the title at this level with VSH Beaulero. Carolyn also went on to take 2nd place in the Advanced Medium with VSH Florenciano and Becky Cullen slotted into 6th place at this level on Glenhill Gold. Carolyn took another placing in the Advanced class again on VSH Florenciano coming 3rd. In the Prix St Georges championship, again the northern region was well represented with Courtney Stuart on her 2nd horse Fanfarron 8 taking 4th place, Courtney continued this solid and consistent performance with another 4th placing in the Intermediaire I class.
Lucy Adams, also competing her bay gelding Get Set, just missed out on a place in the Small Tour classes. Lucy Adams also rode the experienced Ben Hymn in the Intermediaire II class, taking 3th place. Lucy also campaigned Ben Hymn in the Grand Prix taking 5th place. Yvette Truesdale also competed in the Grand Prix class, which was a highlight at the Nationals in 2014, with a record number of riders. Yvette on the handsome bay Has To Be Fun took 4th place. Moving onto the Freestyle classes, again the northern riders continued their run of success. In the Elementary Freestyle, Joan Adrain on Will I wont I, Sylvia Henry on Homegrown Phoenix and Louise McFarlane on Balora took 4th, 5th and 6th place. In the Medium Freestyle, Carolyn Mellor on VSH Beaulero came 3rd and Katie Burns on Caracas II taking 4th. At Advanced Medium, Carolyn took another placing with VSH Florenciano in 2nd and Joan Adrain with Uno Cheval coming in at 6th. The Prix St Georges again saw Courtney Stuart in the saddle back on Fanfarron 8, taking another good result with 6th place. Yvette Truesdale again on Has To Be Fun rode the Grand Prix Kur taking 3rd place. In the 4Year Old Young Horse Championships, Kirsty Stuart on Carrick Diamond Lilly took 2nd place and Janice Campbell on Elpaso Eclipse came 3rd. In the Under 25 Championship Courtney Stuart continued her success with Betty Boo II, taking 2nd place overall. In the Para Championship, Geraldine Lowry took 2nd place on the stallion Ringfort Nimmerdino. The 2014 National Championships were one of the most successful for the Northern Region so far.
In October, Dressage Ireland was invited by British Dressage to compete in the Home International Championships at Arena UK. Six Irish riders in total travelled over to compete and to represent Ireland. Two of these riders were from the Northern Region; Sharon Watters riding Menno Fan Wetsensbosch rode as part of the Irish team at Elementary Level. Louise Ferguson on Mr Bingley, rode as an Individual at Novice level. Sharon Watters enjoyed excellent success in the individual class on the first day of competition, taking 5th place with 71%. She continued to perform consistently throughout the team competition with scores of 68% and 67%. Although the Irish Team missed out on a placing, taking part was a great opportunity and a great experience for all.
Outside of the competition ring, the Northern Region has also seen some of it’s judges working hard to upgrade, and with success. 2014 has seen Angelene Nicholson and Joanne Jarden upgrade to List 2, Rosie Gomes to List 3a and both Claire Sedgeman and Martina McKinley gain their Judging qualification and become List 6 judges. The northern region is delighted to see many of it’s judges continue to progress and many more candidates training to become judges.
Reflecting back on 2014, it is clear to see that the year has been an outstanding success for the Northern Region riders. Northern Ireland Dressage would like to congratulate all its riders on their achievements, and looks forward to seeing many more successes to be celebrated in 2015.
Happy New Year, to all on behalf of the Northern Ireland Dressage Committee.