The Irish Pony Club Branch Officials Training Day took place on Sunday 27th January at the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Horse and Jockey, Co. Tipperary.
Approximately, fifty Branch Officials from across the country made the trip and engaged in an excellent discussion with our speakers. Thank you to everyone who made the journey. We hope that you received some valuable information from the day.
A huge thank you also to our speakers who gave their time to discuss and present on their relevant fields of knowledge. Thank you to:
- Barbara Micks, IPC Executive Chairman
- Tony Ennis, IPC Chairman of Training
- Michael Adams, Its Plain Sailing
- Catherine Ryan, IPC Membership and Accounts Administrator
- Mary Boyd, IPC Board of Directors and IPC Treasurer
- Tara Warren, IPC Administrative Assistant
- Jane Farrell, IPC Administrator
- John Flood, IPC Chairman of Tetrathlon
- Dervla Callan, IPC Area 1 Show Jumping Committee Representative
For those Branch Officials that were unable to attend the Branch Officials Training, we have drafted a brief summary of the information presented during the day.
Barbara Micks opened proceedings by welcoming all of those in attendance to the Horse and Jockey and thanking them for taking the time to travel to the training day. Barbara delivered a brief description of the Structure of the Irish Pony Club organisation. It comprises of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Discipline Committees, the Area Representatives, the District Commissioners (DC) and the members. She recommended that any DCs or Branch Officials who had any questions or queries should contact their Area Representative for advice or assistance. (The contact details for all Area Representatives are included in the 2019 edition of the Irish Pony Club Who's Who). Barbara continued by giving a brief outline on the role of the DC. As DC of a Branch, you are responsible for keeping accurate records of current members, collecting the annual subscription fees, forwarding the membership fees to the Irish Pony Club office, notifying the IPC office of activities for insurance purposes and sharing all correspondence with the members of your Branch committee. You should ensure that the members of your Branch committee have a specific responsibility to share the workload and have a selection panel for choosing teams. She closed her opening address by informing the Branch Officials that all of the speakers would be available throughout the day to answer any questions or queries.
Training and Education
Tony Ennis, Chairman of Training provided an informative presentation for Branch Officials. Tony began by congratulating all IPC members who completed and passed their Senior Proficiency Tests in 2018. He briefly, summarised the results from the tests in 2018 highlighting that members require more hands-on practice in some areas while the lungeing section of the H Test brought up many errors and mistakes.
The presentation continued by describing the qualities and requirements of a good trainer. A good trainer must incorporate a small amount of each of these teaching styles, command, co-operative and submissive. They should also involve the members in their learning. Every branch activity should try to include a friendly atmosphere, plenty of activity and skill development, fun and play. The exercises should represent the individual levels of each participant moving from simple to complex. Stable management should be included as well. Most importantly always remember to be flexible. An activity may have to be adjusted and modified to meet the requirements of any given day. Don't forget always be inclusive and approachable. A brief description was provided of the preparation that is required to prepare for the tests. The details of which are located in the presentation below. Finally, Tony discussed the importance of safety in every branch activity. There should be an authorised official (Safety Officer) at every Camp or Rally deputised to be in charge of the safety of all fixtures such as jumps, fences, tables, tents, etc. which could cause an accident. The safe construction of all fixtures is the responsibility of the Branch Official. Risk Assessment should also be carried out on every venue used by the branch for activities. Risk Assessment form templates are available to download from the Officials page of the IPC website.
Its Plain Sailing
Michael Adams gave a comprehensive and informative presentation on the administration of the Its Plain Sailing site. Its Plain Sailing is an excellent resource that allows Branch officials to easily manage memberships and create events and activities. Application forms may be customised and created to meet the specific requirements of the Branch. User permissions may be set to restrict and allow different committee members access to various parts of the site. For example, the administrator of the site may have access to all areas of a site but they may decide to give permission to a second user to create events. They can restrict the second user from viewing all of the membership information so that they can only view and edit the event creation sections. Michael has a very effective 'Help and Support' section on the site. This section provides detailed help on how to edit each section of the site. There are also tutorials that take you through the steps needed to work on each section.
Finance and Membership
Catherine provided training on the actions to be taken when processing membership and returning accounts to the Irish Pony Club Office. The policy on membership notes that children should join branches which are near their place of residence. It was highlighted that membership is open to boys and girls up to the age of 23 and 25 for Senior Tests. Treasurers are responsible for sending membership fees to the office with the appropriate fee and the list of members who require membership cards. It was made clear that membership cards will not be processed without payment. Branches were advised not to assign new membership numbers for renewing members if they cannot recall the old one because this causes duplication of records. New members application forms only apply to someone who is joining for the first time. It is very important that Branches remind parents to fill in all of the information fields on Its Plain Sailing and on the manual membership forms. DC’s were made aware of their responsibilities in keeping records. They were informed that financial details must be recorded at each Branch Committee meeting. Branches must pay €2 per member to their Area Bank Account to defray the Area Representatives Expenses and likewise the DC’S Secretaries and Treasurers are entitled to reimbursement for their expenses but receipts must be provided. Income and Expenditures Accounts must be returned to the office by the 30th November of each year. These accounts must be signed by the DC and Treasurer and must be accompanied by a Bank Statement, Bank Reconciliation and a list of Assets. It was highlighted that cheques should have two signatures, online banking is permitted, branch Debit cards are allowed but credit cards are not allowed. Dealing with cash was discouraged if possible but should one have to use cash then make sure that all transactions are receipted and keep a Cash Receipt Book.
Role of the Branch Treasurer
Mary Boyd, IPC Director and Treasurer reiterated the points that Catherine made and also outlined some of the specific tasks that a Branch Treasurer should complete. According to the IPC Financial Policies and Procedures, statements of income and expenditure, bank statements and a Treasurer’s report should be presented to the Branch Committee at least three times per year. Branches should also maintain a Branch Assets Register for all Branch Fixed Assets greater than €100 in value. This register should be updated annually and detail the value of each asset. All Branch financial records are the property of the Branch and consequently all records both electronic and hard copy should be in the possession of the current DC or Treasurer. Finally, as Catherine mentioned Branches must present their Income and Expenditure account to the Annual Parents Meeting. Signed copies of these documents must be submitted to the Irish Pony Club office following the APM, with copies of Branch Bank Statements, Bank and Cash Reconciliations and an up to date Branch Assets Register. These documents should reach the IPC office before the 30th of October each year. Mary emphasised that Branches should keep accurate and detailed records to ensure transparency. Cash transactions should be kept to a minimum but where necessary cash transactions should be accounted for in the income and expenditure accounts. Mary recommended that all cash should be counted and signed for following each event and if the Treasurer is unable to attend an activity or event that the they nominate a responsible official to act in their place and follow the procedures outlined above.
Registration for National Events, Competitions and Championships
Tara Warren delivered a brief presentation describing the process that Branches will use during 2019 to enter competitions, championships and events with the Irish Pony Club on Its Plain Sailing. A frequently asked question to the IPC office centres around this topic. Why do we enter some competitions directly on the IPC Its Plain Sailing page and the championships through the Branch Its Plain Sailing sites?
To this end, Tara created a diagram to illustrate the different methods of entering IPC events and explained the rationale for both methods. This diagram can be downloaded from the presentation below.
The Irish Pony Club office has two options that it may use to open applications for a National Event, Competition or Championship:
- Group Event.
The Group Event option is only used for the five national championships, Hunter Trials, Minimus, Festival, Tetrathlon and Eventing. The group event is created by the IPC office and it automatically appears on all of the Branch Its Plain Sailing sites. The aim of this, is to allow the Branch to manage and check their competition entries, create teams, team names and apply team orders. When the IPC office creates a group event, they set an Official IPC Closing Date. This date represents the date by which a Branch must submit all of its Branch entries to the IPC office. It is recommended that a Branch reset the closing date on their Branch Its Plain Sailing site to a day or two earlier than the IPC Official Closing Date to allow the Branch to check the entries and submit them to the IPC. This is at the discretion of each individual Branch and it is optional. However, ALL competition entries must be submitted to the IPC office before the Official IPC Closing Date.
In the case of each of the five championships listed above, a parent enters their child for the competition on their Branches Its Plain Sailing page and the fee is paid directly into the Branch bank account. The Branch must submit their fees for the competition to the IPC office before the championship begins, ideally before the final Tuesday before a championship starts. Invoices will be issued to each Branch once the IPC office has received all of the entries for a particular championship. The IPC office cannot start to prepare the competition entries until all Branches have submitted their entries for a competition. Any delays resulting from Branches failing to submit the entries before the Official IPC Closing Date will result in a delay to the online publication of the competition running order and timings.
The Event option is used for all other types of registration for national events and competitions including National Dressage Day, the Show Jumping Classic Finals, the IPC Instructor’s Register, IPC Instructor Training Days and the Branch Officials Training Day. Entry for these events is made directly on the Irish Pony Club Its Plain Sailing page and the fee is paid directly into the IPC bank account. Therefore, the IPC manages the entries for these events from start to finish.
Tara also highlighted the most common errors that appear on entry forms for the various IPC competitions and activities. These include:
- A Branch member forgot to enter.
- Using BLOCK CAPITALS to complete the form. (Please complete the forms in regular sentence case as you wish to see them printed on the programme.)
- Filling in the Date of Birth in the Age Column.
- Forgetting to complete the Male or Female question on the application form, leaving it in the default setting.
- Branch Team Names - Team Names should always begin with the Branch name, E.g. Tipperary Titans or Bray Bobcats.
- Incorrect Spelling and Spacing of Competitor Names and Horse / Pony Names.
- Changes to Teams and or Team Order.
These errors result in a delay to the preparation of the Branch Running Order which is posted on the IPC website before each competition. A Branch Closing Date for National IPC Competition Entries approximately two days before the Official IPC Closing Date would allow Branches to:
- Check that all members have registered.
- Check that all of their details are correct.
- Check that they have entered the correct classes.
- Assign Team Names or Running Orders to the members of a Team.
Opening the Its Plain Sailing system for competition entries after the Official IPC Closing Date can result in significant delays to the programming process because the entries spreadsheet cannot be downloaded until all of the entries have been correctly submitted by each Branch.
Finally, Tara highlighted a number of points that Branches should keep an eye out for during the year.
- For the five national championships, member should enter the competition only through their own Branch Its Plain Sailing page.
- Branches should monitor their Tetrathlon and Minimus entries to ensure that the correct swim lengths and metres are recorded by parents
- Using the Gun Registration Setting on Its Plain Sailing, Branches should keep an up to date list of guns which the Branch holds including guns in need of repair or unused guns. This will help parents when registering for the competition.
- The Official Closing Date will not be extended for Branches who hold trials after the closing date. Please take note of all of the closing dates during the year and plan branch activities and trials relating to championships around this.
At this point, Tara expressed her thanks to all Branches for their assistance during the summer of 2018 with the entries for the 2018 championships. Errors in the championship entries significantly decreased during 2018. The Branches assistance is sincerely appreciated in helping us to continue to reduce and eliminate errors. If any Branch experiences any difficulty with entries during 2019, please contact the IPC office as soon as practicable and preferably before the IPC Official Closing Date to resolve the problem. All requests for early or late start times or questions regarding any of the rules specific to a particular discipline must be sent in writing by e-mail to the IPC office by a Branch Official. Withdrawals must also be submitted in writing by e-mail to the IPC office by a Branch Official.
Submitting Information for the IPC Website or Social Media Accounts
- Photographs – Send in originals, where possible to ensure quality is maintained. Must have permission from a parent / guardian to use photographs.
- Documents and Flyers – Microsoft Word or Excel and PDF (If a flyer is submitted in PDF, any changes to the flyer information at a later date must be re-submitted. We cannot change the information on a PDF document).
- Results and Tables – Check that they are correctly fitting onto the A4 page as you would like them to appear on the site.
Jane Farrell, Administrator of the IPC gave a presentation of Insurance. She explained that the IPC employ Howden Insurance Brokers to source suitable insurers for the IPC and manage the day to day operation of our insurance policy. Howden have created a micro site which IPC officials can use to gather all of the information that they might require about our insurance policies. A link to this site is available on the IPC Online Systems page of the IPC website. As a Branch Official, any correspondence that you have with Howden regarding accident report forms or claims should be copied to Jane and the IPC office. Due to the Brexit situation UK insurance companies are setting up offices in the EU. This situation is causing uncertainty in the industry. Equestrianism is a very high-risk sport and it can prove difficult to find suitable companies which can increase the costs of insurance.
Jane went on to explain that the IPC policies have cover in place to protect the Members, Branches, Volunteers and Instructors, including Combined Liability (Employers Liability, Public Liability and Products Liability), Personal Accident (Volunteers and Members), Branch Property, Directors and Officers, Travel and IPC Property. She gave details on each policy explaining what and who is covered. She noted that sometimes there is confusion between the difference types of policy. For example, with Liability Policies there has to be negligence. However, anyone can make a claim.
Risk Assessment is a vital part of running any event, by carrying it out, potential risks may come to light and therefore problems and potential accidents and claims can be avoided. Every event and activity must have a Risk Assessment carried out for insurance purposes, even if it is a repeat event at the same venue. These documents must be kept safe and secure by the Branch Officials. Insurance claims can be made many years after the accident. Risk Assessment Forms which can be sourced on the Downloads page of the IPC website. These must be completed in advance of any activity, preferably by the Safety Officer or a person given this role by the DC. Do not be scared of risk assessments. They have their purpose. Do not over complicate them and use your common sense. Have an objective mind and raise concerns however insignificant. Also, ensure that you are familiar with IPC procedures.
The Safety Officer or delegated person is also responsible for completing the Incident Log and the Accident Forms. The Incident Log is completed for any incident which occurs during any activity. If the person involved needs medical attention then the Accident Form must be completed and sent to the IPC office or directly to Howden Insurance via the insurance claims personnel, the details of which can be accessed on the Howden Insurance microsite. Always remember to copy the IPC office and Jane on any correspondence that you undertake with Howden. Keep these forms up to date, safe and secure. Be mindful that insurance claims can be made years later.
Jane closed this section of her presentation by reinforcing that the IPC office is there to help everyone simply contact us and give us the opportunity to source the information that your Branch requires if we don’t have it to hand.
Jane also delivered a presentation on the Branch Activity Notices for Insurance Purposes. An updated version of the Branch Activity for Insurance Purposes spreadsheet was circulated to all branches in January. The purpose of this spreadsheet is to gather a list of all of the activities that take place in a branch during the year to record them for our Insurance Brokers Howden. In addition, at the end of the year the data in these spreadsheets is analysed for statistical purposes, to identify the amount of each activity that takes place country wide. Going forward we would request that branches complete this form in its entirety, filling in each field. Some points to note when completing this form:
- In the 'DATE' Section, please list the date of each activity - Stating that an activity will take place every Monday between June and September is not sufficient.
- Please DO NOT SAVE multiple copies of this document. Save this copy and add to this document each time you have new activities to enter.
- ALL activities for the Branch should be included in ONE document - we should not receive separate documents from different Branch Officials registering activities for different disciplines.
- Therefore, one person in the Branch should take responsibility for compiling these activities and submitting them to the IPC Office.
- There is a drop-down menu containing a list of all IPC Disciplines in Column B. Select the cell that you wish to work on in column B and the drop-down arrow will appear.
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation came into force in May 2018. Jane Farrell, the Irish Pony Club Administrator provided Branches with a short update on the steps that the Irish Pony Club has taken over the last twelve months to comply with this new legislation. The IPC has developed a handbook for Branches to help them to implement good practices within their Branch regarding data protection. This handbook was distributed to Branches during 2018 and is available to download from the IPC website. Jane highlighted the seven principles of data protection during her presentation and asked Branches to be aware of the following:
- Be mindful of the new regulations and the information that your Branch collects.
- To minimise the risk of breach, reduce the amount of information that you collect and gather.
- Ensure that you are fair and transparent in your collection of data i.e. make sure that the people and members that you are collecting data from understand the reasons and the purpose of the data request.
- When collecting personal information and data from members and individuals, only request information that is relevant i.e. don't request information that is not essential for membership or the running of an event.
- Remember every time you send information by e-mail etc., you are removing it from the control of the organisation. Therefore, consider if it is necessary to share the information.
- Use the BCC function within your e-mail when sending correspondence to a number of people who do not know each other and have not given their permission to have their contact details shared with anyone else.
- Similarly, limit access to data and information held by the organisation to the people in authority who need access to it.
- Respond quickly to any requests by an individual to protect their rights.
- Ensure that data, records and information are kept secure and confidential.
- Please do not keep data which you no longer need. The IPC Retention Policy is being drafted and it will be circulated to you for your information when it is completed.
- All Instructors used by Branches at events or activities must have signed a Data Processor Agreement. This ensures that the Instructor maintains safe and secure records of IPC members. If they have completed this document please ensure they complete one and you can forward it to the office. The IPC office will also sign the document and send a copy back to the Instructor for their records. A blank copy will be sent to all Branches again shortly.
- Please ensure that you collect all data both electronic and paper from a retiring officer and ask them to delete/shred any duplicates they may have in their possession.
Reports from Discipline Representatives
John Flood, Chairman of the IPC Tetrathlon Committee gave Branch officials a brief introduction to the disciplines of Minimus and Tetrathlon. He urged all Branches to encourage their members to consider participating in Minimus and Tetrathlon events. Participation in Minimus and Tetrathlon is increasing and to that end there are a large number of Fun Minimus Training Days taking place across the country over the next few months. The details and dates for these events can be downloaded from the IPC website. One key point that John highlighted throughout his presentation was that Branches should assess the riding ability of their members and encourage the use of the Option Fences on the Cross-Country Course accordingly. In some cases, during the 2018 championships, effective use of the Option Fences allowed competitors to attain higher scores than those who chose to attempt a full clear round and gain the maximum points. He also encouraged Branches to consider walking the course in separate groups, those choosing the Option Fences and those not using the Option Fences to ensure that each competitor would have a clear understanding of the cross-country course. John concluded his address by highlighting the two assessment dates for the Irish Minimus and Junior Tetrathlon Squads Long Lists. All members of the Irish Pony Club are welcome to be nominated for these assessment days which will take place at the Clare Winter Triathlon and the North Kilkenny Winter Triathlon. Members will only be assessed on the running and swimming phases at these events. Nomination forms must be signed by the Branch DC and submitted to the Irish Pony Club office.
Dervla Callan, Area 1 Show Jumping Committee Representative provided details regarding the new mixed teams pilot rule for the 2019 Show Jumping Championships. As a pilot for 2019 it has been decided to allow mixed teams for Branches who cannot make up a full team. Mixed Teams will be formed by the Area Representatives. A Branch must first try to gather members for a Branch team. However, if this is not possible then they should submit names to their Area Representative who can create a mixed team. This mixed team must attend their Area Qualifiers as per regular Branch teams. If a Mixed team qualifies at their Area Qualifiers, they can qualify for the Festival Show Jumping Championships. This pilot rules applies to the Under 12 Alice Mernagh, Under 14 Robbie Bailey and Intermediate John Ledingham Show Jumping Championships. The full details of this new pilot rule can be found in the 2019 Show Jumping Rule Book which can be downloaded from the IPC website. Dervla concluded her presentation by congratulating Elisa O’Connor (Sligo Hunt Branch) and Jack Ryan (Kilkenny Hunt Branch) on winning the show jumping training bursary to the Army Equitation School at McKee Barracks. Elisa and Jack won the training bursary at the Show Jumping Classic Final. This is a fantastic achievement and an amazing opportunity for both riders. Elisa and Jack will travel to McKee Barracks during the mid-term break. Dervla encouraged all Branches to consider putting members forward for the Show Jumping Classic competitions during 2019.
The Branch Officials Training Day came to a close at 5pm with Barbara Micks thanking all of the Branch representatives for their attention and participation, wishing them a safe journey home.