Monday, December 6, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

Someone some where has released Mr Frost on Ireland. For the last week we have been slipping, sliding, swerving with a little bit of sledging to round it up! I do have to admit, as an Irish person, we do tend to love to chatter (moaning) about the weather. If you’ve read this blog before, you know I do manage to always get mention in about it but this week is genuinely different, a very crisp blanket of snow has concealed everything in sight. Not just the mountain tops, making us lament how hard a winter it’s going to be, but actual inches of snow, like a proper snowy country. Terribly charming to look but in a country that can barely handle a smattering of snowflakes, everything has ground to a stop, including me!

Walking The Dogs.

All the horses are either off up on the side of a mountain on forced holidays or too precious to venture across the glacial ground to frozen arena’s. Early in the week saw us all bound for Fernhill Sport horses indoor arena, the perfect spot to get some last minute training in before the upcoming Schumacher clinic. Unfortunately the worsening weather, even the tough old German couldn’t make it over so all is quiet for a while on the equestrian side.

Evening Walk

The View From Home

As you know, I most definitely not a morning person, with the required three cups of coffee before I even attempt to go near the weights area in the gym, but this week I had a credible excuse not to have to break into a sweat! A while back, during a particularly vigorous back workout, I managed to pull a muscle in my upper back and shoulder. Then, warned not to do anything, I spent the rest of that week competing three horses, (Finishing in first, second and third) but resulting in an inability to do much more than grumble and bleat to every person in sight. After several days of annoying all the staff at The Ormonde Gym, finally Ger (of GT Fitness) told me to get my ass home for the weekend and give them all a break from my whining. So Shawn and I took ourselves of to the country for the weekend to visit my parents. We braved the roads and wound our way down to Wexford. Truthfully, it was a welcome break, absolutely delightful not to have to trudge through the streets over slush and ice amid the already crazed Christmas shoppers.
Lots of tea, followed by lazy leisurely walks with the dogs followed by boozy evenings by the open fire made for a really relaxing time.

Morning's Snowy Visitor

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Featured on Stable to Stable

Stable to Stable, the leading online equestrian magazine featured a report on Raheen Na Gun's league with some super pictures from Equus Pix.

You can click here to read the article on the show and here for the previous weekend. The photographers can be found either by clicking on their name above of here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eleassalde Winning Her Class at Raheen Na Gun Combined Training Event

As well as riding the superb Woodend Picasso, who I was very proud of, I competed a super little mare for a friend of mine, Sarah Lang. The mare is by Olympic Lux and was so much fun to work with, normally I wouldn't just sit up on a someone else's horse and compete it but I've known Sarah since days of old and seen the mare in action for quite a while. I've always been impressed with her jumping and cross country and I know Sarah does a great job schooling them on the flat so when she asked me to compete Eleassalde I jumped at the chance.
Winning on a score of 61.6%, I was very pleased to be able to prove to all the nah sayers there that dressage doesn't apply to all horses. As a very talented jumper and cross country horse she still looked like a proper dressage diva in the arena and powered around like a machine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Musings And The “Art” Of Dressage.

I don’t often get to luxuriate in something creative these days between running from horse to horse or to and from the gym but last week I received the most astonishing email. The well known Irish artist Roddy Moynihan sent me an email about possibly being the muse and stimulus for his next piece of work. He spotted pictures of me and my horses and thoughts of French nobility or equestrian statues jumped to his mind, now I can’t say I judge myself to be particularly noble or French looking but who am I to stand in the way of a man and his creation, especially if it makes me look like a piece of art.

Working in mostly acrylics and oils, his paintings remind me of something Celtic or bronze age, buckets of life and fluidity. He will be coming down to watch me ride this week and photograph some of the horses, working later from the chosen photograph. I think it’s going to be a great collaboration, although that implies I’ll be doing more than ponce around he arena trying to look inspiring!

RIBBF Irish Nationals

Last Saturday saw me getting up at the crack of dawn as usual, but with the dark mornings I seem to only dive further into my coffee addiction. Seven o clock saw me grabbing a lift with friends to Limerick, about three and a half hours away to travel to the Irish RIBBF (Republic of Ireland Bodybuilding Federation)They were staffing a stand for NPC active wear and I was there to help out and hang out. NPC is a great new venture of friends Will and Hans Vogul, Hans is a competitive bodybuilder and trainer and has been helping me with advice for a couple of months now. Saturday found him away from the clothing stand and on stage in the super heavy weight category of the competition. He was barely pipped for first place in the class but was more than credible runner up.

At the stand next to us, Ronnie Coleman or Mr “O” as he’s often called was signing autographs and T-shirts. Ronnie holds the title of winning eight Mr Olympia competitions, that makes him the Anky Van Grunsven of the bodybuilding world! The man is absolutely monstrous but couldn’t have been more friendly, he had just flown in, was guest posing at the competition and was driving up north to do a seminar in the morning. He didn’t bat an eyelid at the queues around the block for his stand. He signed a photograph for me and graciously wished me luck with the fitness career and the equine career. A true inspiration once you get over the fact that his bicep is the size of my entire upper leg!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Promo Shoot

Last week found me back in the studio on a promotional shoot in Shutterbug Studios. Organised by the beautiful and talented Blanaid Hennessey for my new core class that starts at The Ormonde Leisure Club
Photographs by Ciuin Treacy, a pleasure to work with, easy going and a great eye, even I had a second look at the pictures. Other samples of her work can be found here. Now I'm working with graphic design artist Rhona Nolan to put the final image for the poster together, Rhona has some super stuff on Rose Tinted Uncertainty Really looking forward to seeing the finished images.
Details of the class can be found here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Theory Thursdays

Come in from the cold this winter and improve your horsemanship and dressage skills with theory classes every Thursday. Have an opportunity to address all those little issues your horse has but never had the opportunity to fix!
Every Thursday at 8pm
Contact or 087 292 9951 to book your place!

Corefit Classes

New classes beginning next week, in The Ormonde Leisure club, Kilkenny. Core classes aimed specifically at the equestrian athlete, strengthen your core and position and be more effective in the saddle. Get you "abs" in gear for the winter and hit the new year running strong!
Classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm
Contact or 087 292 9951 to book your place

San Doncisco at the 2010 Oldenburg Fall Elite Auction

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Rex at Nationals
I think the Apocalypse has struck, there's people running everywhere, traffic jams, screaming babies, "well" not screaming babies. It's the beginning of winter. It's absolutely bucketing down here in Kilkenny. Bloody torrential rain washing down making it absolutely impossible to even take a peek at a horse without being soaked to the skin. But you'd imagine that here in Ireland we'd be able to deal with some rain but not so, people seem top believe that they are made of sugar and might melt at any moment if they behave like grown up adults while outside. Why is it that every Irish woman clutching an umbrella seems to be level with the side of the head, I've had more pokes in the temple than I care to mention.
On the way to Picasso yesterday, I stopped to pick up a bedraggled hitchhiker and I know it's totally dangerous but she looked smaller than me and it was pelting rain, I've been in that situation too many times to pass her. She was completely washed out but had a huge smile on her face and proceeded to tell me how moving to Ireland was a dream come true for her, she believes that the all the rain we have in fact helps to cleanse us and helps us Irish folk maintain our "fresh" outlook. I have my doubts!
At Home in Raheen on a break.
But I have to say Picasso was particularly wonderful this week, with Rex on a mini holiday to recover after National Championships back at Raheen Na Gun Stud, I had a bit more time to devote Picasso. His show season kicks off next month with some unaffiliated shows and maybe some young horse classes with Dressage Ireland, all going to plan. Woodend Flicka joined us in the arena today for a training session with visiting German rider Lisa (It's awful, I can't spell her last name!), it also gave us an opportunity to introduce Picasso to other horses in the warm up. He did look a lot but didn't deviate from his work at all which was great. His canter is just so divine to sit to and his trot work is really coming along, much more push and looseness.
I have to wish good luck to everyone in tomorrows final one day event in the Association of Irish Riding Clubs, Hoofprints Horse Trials League. Lets hope the rain clears up in time for that cross country ride!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last day of National Championships.

I'm up in Dublin at the moment, still recovering from National Championships, landed late Sunday evening and then turned right around to get up to Dublin to be indulged in a week of theatre. Shawn (my amazingly talented partner) just opened in a new play and the musical he wrote opens again at Bewleys Cafe on Grafton Street.(Follow the link for details) So al the horse gear was unpacked and hastily put away so I could repack and head out the door.
Poor Rex is exhausted after the long week in Cavan. The last day of competition was a little disappionting for us but ultimately a good lesson to learn. Two judges, one English and one of our own well known Irish judges took a dislike to his way of going. For me he felt more willing, more rideable than the Friday but it goes to show, even the little feelings of accomplishment don't necessarily mean winning scores. I am very happy with him nonetheless, he behaved like a gent compared to last year. Again we treaded the line between keyed up and ready to go and tipping over the edge into tired and past the limit. With a horse this size, it is difficult getting the fitness levels right, by day two of the show he was fast asleep in his stable and well tuckered out from all the festivities.

It was nice to have a few supporters travel up from home to see him and it broke the potentially icy, lack lustre atmosphere of the dressage diva's. I do sometimes worry that we aren't really doing anything to encourage people to come to admire dressage. I had some non dressage friends there and they felt quite a "breeze" around the warm up arena! Luckily Rex was in his element and didn't bother with the madness of loose children, loose dogs and the odd loose horse dashing by his stable. He's back at home now enjoying a few days off while I'm here in Dublin behaving like a proper non horsey grown up.

Raheen Na Gun

Raheen Na Gun

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Day Before, in Cahampionship Week!

Well, so much for good omens, that clear moonlit sky changed steadily over night to rain filled clouds that all seem to burst every time I needed to leave the lorry or the stables. When I was safely tucked inside, it seemed to be emptying its contents on the outdoor warm-up arena that now resembles a ploughed field in November. Luckily with a horse that looks designed for riding into battle, he has feet the size of dinner plates and wasn’t the least bit bothered by it. Rex is so laid back at this point I practically have to lift him around the stable. When he’s not got his head over the wall chatting to his neighbour, he’s pulling at the twine on his hay-net in an effort to empty it all on the floor. He seems to find it exasperating to have to methodically pull it out of those little holes. I suppose it’s not strange that we both get on so well, “chatty” “ loves food” and dangerous to anyone who gets in front of it” I do often wonder what he’d be like full of caffeine? He was terribly good today, nice and relaxed and seems totally in his element here on the show grounds.

The lorry park is filling up, with a few familiar faces and lots of unfamiliar faces, which does reflect the new interest in dressage. South East Dressage did have a little get together thanks to Mary Cox, Chairperson of our region and it was great to catch up with the old reliables. Over a glass of wine we dissected the show programme, there is an impressive number in my classes with some really high calibre horses. We’ll have our work cut out for us but we’ll be giving it socks.

Some of the arriving competitors don’t seem to be too savvy at parking their lorries and trailers so what was a nice neat little corner of my own suddenly became the end of a very long maze of abandoned vehicles. Every square of concrete has a skew ways lorry and it’s contents strewn around it usually with a little yappy dog tied to it! One such dog spent the night howling his lungs off while his owners had a restful night at a local B&B. As you can imagine it took a lot of coffee to make me even barely sociable after that. The coffee supplies are quickly dwindling, a little bit like my patience.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Days And Counting.

I’m sitting up in the Luton (for those Americans in the audience, that’s the little bed bit above the cab in the horse lorry and not an airport in England). It’s a most glorious night out there; the storm clouds have sidled away to reveal a beautiful full heavy harvest moon and the tiny twinkle of thousands of stars. I’m taking it as a good omen, especially as I’m afforded this splendid view because I’m up on the hill, at Cavan Equestrian Centre in the run up to the National Championships on Friday.

The journey up was a terribly long one, raining cats and dogs and thunder and lightening, (those omens I chose to ignore!) Rex as usual traveled like a saint and not in the least bit put out. He was especially excited on arrival as his haynet was constantly being refilled. After an arduous search of every nook and cranny in his stable as well as popping his enormous head over the wall to cheerily greet his neighbours, he settled back down to more haylage and wasn’t much interested in anything else. He was not happy however when I arrived to take him away from his haynet to do some work. He has been going wonderfully well over the last few weeks, just playing with the work at home. An absolute pleasure to ride, he manages to brighten up my day no matter how many times I’ve had to chase a horse around a muddy wet field in the rain. I do hope and expect him to go well on the weekend, as he really deserves it, such a marvelous horse. He has consistently stepped up to the work each and every time without complaint; so willing for every challenge he has been given.

For me, the last while has been those tiring lack lustre sort of days with a flu turning into a chest infection. With the help of lots of ginseng and my old friend coffee I’ve managed to trundle through but not without letting everyone know how uniquely sick I am. At this point most people are quietly grumbling “man flu” as they walk away, just loud enough for me to hear! They are possible quite right, I never was a good patient, I enjoy being looked after too much. On that note I do have to thank everybody for the endless cups of coffee, food and sympathy in exchange for my sniffling and coughing and a great big thank you for the superwoman Susi Burton Allen for all her help and the use of her lorry for the weekend. It is just heart-warming to have somewhere quiet and peaceful to come back to after facing the dressage divas on the showground (I’m including the dressage men in that)

With just Rex here in Cavan, even though he is the size of two horses I could potentially be accused of sitting around on my ass a lot if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m meant to be learning off a routine for a fitness class. I knew I wouldn’t escape the gym entirely this week, especially with gym sponsors, The Ormonde Leisure Club and GT Fitness checking in everyday. Several attempts to stretch my body to places it was neither designed or intends to go as well as copious loud grunts of effort has, I’m sure, made the people in the lorry next door wonder what on earth is going on in here.

Well, off to bed soon, up early to get Rex acclimatized to the show grounds and to find a decent cup of coffee, I’ll never survive till show day on Friday if I don’t locate a good espresso!

Monday, September 13, 2010

AIRC National Championships

(Hanna Bjoremark on far right.)

I stumbled across a wonderful blog with an even more wonderful picture of Hanna Bjoremark at prize giving after winning the title of Advanced Open National Champion.
The blog is Mackey Equestrian, check it out!

National Horse Trials Championships

Mags and Harry!
Jo, Gillian and Jenny

"What a fantastic weekend at Nationals .......... myself and the little man came 2nd and we were also on the Team which came 2nd too, still smiling.........well done to all the rest of the gang - Jo 1st - Carmel 1st - Jenny 5th - Mags 7th ......what a brill result for the Club ......... go girl power........."
"Gillian Hennessey"

I couldn't have said it better myself, well done to all the riders from Thomastown and District Riding Club who worked so hard all season on their dressage and secured great placings because of it at The National Horse Trials Championships.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Furst van Hof Olympia

Ivan spent the morning at Goresbridge Horse Sales with a wonderful young horse and her rider, Sarah Lang. Eleasalde, by Lux Z out of a Holy Cross mare. This superbly talented mare was trained by Sarah, jumping a metre ten classes for fun as well as popping around open cross country classes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don Rosario

Anyone who knows Don Rosario (Rex) will remember that at last year’s National Championships there was a momentary glitch with the music in the adjoining freestyle to music arena, resulting in a few caprioles and courbettes from Rex. This year I was determined that he would be able to show himself off to his best and let everyone see how much he has blossomed and matured over the past season. So we wracked our collective heads and thought what was the loudest, most blustery, most colourful thing we could bring him to, the result was a show class in the annual Iverk Show. Now, standing at 18 2, there aren’t many options left open to him. So we took ourselves under the tutelage of one of the countries most reputable show horse producers, Sheila Gettins, and ended up choosing the Heavyweight Show Hunter Class. This class allowed to do all the things we rarely do at dressage shows -- work under circumstances that aren’t high pressure, have lots of time and space to ride him in and let him look about. Umbrellas, screaming children, run-about dogs, loud music, and galloping ponies were merely some of the things surrounding the arena. Amongst a huge class of seasoned show horses and show riders Rex did incredibly well and placed fourth, behaving as if he had been doing it all his life, not batting an eyelid at his environment. Certainly as dressage competitors we could take a leaf from the show persons handbook, very inexpensive entries, good judges and great prize money meant for very well attended classes, with over almost eighty in the hunter classes alone.

The Show Hunter riding judge was slightly smaller than me!!

Discussing final decisions.
Rex attracting some admirers.