Riding clubs, affiliated to the Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC) are one of the biggest amateur sport organisations in Ireland. Riding clubs provide a friendly and affordable environment for amateur riders in Ireland to compete across all disciplines. If you have never joined a riding club before the information and process might seem daunting so the aim of this blog post is to provide help and encouragement to anyone thinking of joining for the first time.
In Ireland each affiliated riding club belongs in a region. There are over 100 affiliated riding clubs in Ireland. Our club, Dunbyrne Riding club is based in the Kildare area and falls under the West Leinster region. Riding club members compete representing the club that they choose to join and can compete in local shows run within their own region, in competitions held by other clubs and regions and in National championships.
Why would I join a riding club?
Riding club brings together like minded amateur riders to learn and compete in a welcoming and enjoyable environment. It is the perfect way to meet new friends and build up experience.
How do I join a riding club?
You must be aged 17 or over to join. To join a riding club you simply need to contact the club secretary and request to put in an application. All riding clubs and their details can be found at www.airc.ie. Our own club can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org / 0858144739 To apply to join a club the secretary will need you to provide your contact details, your competition and riding experience and details of any previous riding club members you may have had. They will also need your date of birth and some passport photos.
You do not need to be on livery at a yard or living close by to join a specific club. Most riding clubs will base themselves around a yard or equestrian centre in order to enjoy facilities but riders can base themselves where ever they choose. Our riding club is named Dunbyrne Riding Club after our equestrian centre but membership is open to all and members do not need to be on livery with us to join and enjoy the club.
How much does it cost?
Riding club is a very affordable sport as membership is simply paid annually for the rider. There are no extra charges for registering horses and owners. Membership to a club will vary from €65/70 + depending on the club. Membership runs from January to December with a discount usually offered to anyone joining in the autumn months. For example membership from October to December is available now at just €30.
What level do I compete at?
If you have never joined a riding club before the club grading officer will asses your riding and your competiton record with other associations (if you have any) in order to advise you on the correct grade for you. In riding club the emphasis is about grading the rider rather than the horse. Riders can upgrade as they progress through the levels. Riders receive a grade for dressage, showjumping and cross country and there can be some level of variation between the grade for each. Beginner riders would be graded at the lowest level for dressage and showjumping and would not do cross country.
If you have competed before your competition record will be assessed by the grading officer in order to advise on the best grade to start out as. A rough guide is below:
Dressage Ireland preliminary - Riding Club Advanced primary / Intermediate, Dressage Ireland Novice - Riding Club advanced intermediate, Dressage Ireland Elementary - Riding club open, Dressage Ireland Medium + - Riding club advanced open
SJI 80cm - riding club advanced primary, SJI 90cm - Riding club intermediate, SJI 1m - riding club advanced intermediate, SJI 1.10 - riding club open, SJI 1.20 - Riding club advanced open
Eventing Ireland intro - riding club intermediate, Eventing Ireland pre novice - riding club advanced intermediate, Eventing Ireland novice / 1* - riding club open, Eventing Ireland 2* - riding club advanced open.
Are there many shows?
We are very lucky in the West Leinster region as there is a dressage and showjumping league which runs in the spring and autumn which has approx 5-7 legs of competition in each. There are also a number of other shows run throughout the year in West Leinster or neighbouring regions including one day events and showing. OUr own club run 3-4 shows a year in the West Leinster region at Dunbyrne Stud in Kilmeague
What about the social side?
Riding club is known for its great social opportunities and outing as well as competitions. Most clubs run social events for members with and without their horses and the West Leinster region also organises a number of social and training days which club members can join.
Our Case study:
Michelle Davitt started riding lessons at Dunbyrne Equestrian when she and her horse Zono joined us on livery in the Summer. In Michelles first lesson she was asked about her goals for herself and her horse. She stated that she would love to be able to join a riding club and compete at some point but wasn't sure how long it would take her. Michelle joined Dunbyrne riding club during the summer and worked during her lessons towards her goal of competing in the West Leinster autumn league. Michelle was ready to start competing on time for the autumn league and had an amazing riding club debut winning the primary showjumping and taking sixth place in the primary dressage. She and bay gelding Zono are looking forward to continuing to compete through the league and working towards their next goals. Michelle was nervous about competing for the first time but was supported and encouraged by our other riding club members including Susanne Walsh who competes successfully at primary herself and mum and daughter Clare and Orla Harrington who compete at dressage.
How can I apply to Join Dunbyrne riding club?
You do not need to be on livery with us to join our riding club. We have a number of clients who keep their horses at home or with friends and who join us for lessons, competitions and training. To apply all you need to do is contact our club secretary Charlotte on email@example.com / 085-8144739