Mid Term Break for most young people is an opportunity to escape from classes and lessons but not so for two Irish Pony Club (IPC) members who travelled to the Army Equitation School at McKee Barracks last week. Edel Whyte (Co. Longford Hunt Branch) and Patrick Gleeson (Scarteen Hunt Branch) were the successful winners of the 2017 Irish Pony Club Show Jumping Classic Bursary to McKee Barracks.
They travelled to Dublin on Sunday 11th February to begin their tuition under the experienced guidance of Lt. Col. Tom Freyne. In their own words, Edel and Patrick found that the:
“bursary allowed us to get an insight into the high standards of training and management within McKee Barracks. We received an excellent week of training both on horseback and in stable management. “
Edel and Patrick spent five days at McKee Barracks and here is their report on their journey:
“Monday morning started with a short walk from the hotel to McKee Barracks where we were introduced to Cpl Denise Byrne who looked over our shoulder for the week. A quick tour of the facilities settled the nerves before our first lesson with Lt. Col. Tom Freyne, followed in the afternoon with a jumping lesson with Lt. Kehoe. Both lessons allowed the horses to relax into the busy Dublin atmosphere and for the trainers to see our strengths and weaknesses.
The second day was filled with two more lessons from Lt. Col. Freyne, where he brought out the full potential in both horses and rider. Each day the time between lessons was filled with stable management lessons provided by Cpl. Denise Byrne. We learned massive amounts of information from the importance of a correct feeding routine to the horse’s hoof.
On Wednesday evening, after a canter pole lesson that morning with Lt. Kehoe and Lt. Larkin, we were brought to Lisadell Veterinary Hospital. A tour of the premises and a chat with some of the staff answered any questions we had about the care of the Army Equitation School horses.
Thursday was a jam-packed day with a flatwork demo from Capt. Geoff Curran followed by a jumping lesson that evening with him. A lunge riding lesson provided by Lt. Kehoe and Lt. Larkin allowed us as riders to focus on our position and an opportunity for us to ride one of the school’s horses.
The final day supplied us with one last lesson from Lt. Col. Tom Freyne. On looking parents enjoyed the lesson and saw improvements from the start of the week.
The entire experience was a once in a life time opportunity. The tuition was invaluable and the warm welcome allowed us to get the most out of the week. We will be encouraging other members in our club to take part in the show jumping classic to be in with a chance of winning this exceptional experience. It was great to work with people with international experience, and we would like to thank Cpl. Denise Byrne, Lt. Charlene Kehoe, Lt. Jennifer Larkin, Lt. Col. Tom Freyne and Capt. Geoff Curran.”
Well done to both Edel and Patrick who exhibited all of the best characteristics of the Irish Pony Club last week. They are a credit to their Branch, their families and their instructors. Congratulations on a fantastic week and good luck for 2018. Hopefully, we will see these two wonderful young Show Jumpers competing for their respective branches this summer at IPC activities.
Finally, the IPC would like to express their sincere thanks to Lt. Col. Tom Freyne, Capt. Cillian McHugh and Commdt. Sharon Crean for their assistance in organising this wonderful experience for our IPC members. The tuition, instruction and practice received during this week will be invaluable for Edel and Patrick. The IPC looks forward to continuing this long-standing partnership with the Army Equitation School at McKee Barracks for many years to come. Syl Ryan, IPC Chairman of Show Jumping is already anticipating the 2018 edition of the Show Jumping Classic and the emergence of the new and talented show jumpers who will compete for this fantastic opportunity.