A packed schedule and focus on inclusive classes were hallmarks of this year’s Connemara Therepeutic Riding Novely Show, held in Manor
Arena, Clifden, on September 22. 

Now in its third year, the pony show with a difference has gone from strength to strength, with this year’s event attracting more than 140 entries.

Judges Eleanor Curran and Padraig Geoghegan had a hard task in selecting winners from the hotly contested adult and child classes. One young competitor even travelled the long distance from Dublin to take part. 

The Mini Handlers and Young Handlers classes started the day off, with 21 and 16 competitors respectively enjoying the opportunity to show off their pony handling skills. These young competitors left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they will be the showing superstars of the future. As in every class, all competitors received a rosette and a novelty prize, with the judges selecting
Aoife Gorham and her pony Doonhill Misty Dawn as the winner of the mini handlers class. 

Kathryn Conneely showing Saoirse na Mara was victorious in the Young Handlers Class.

A new addition to the schedule this year was the Walk Trot class, which proved very popular and was deservedly won by Inishbofin native Kitty Concannon, riding her pony Lenny. 

The lead rein showjumping and cross pole showjumping classes are always well supported and they give future showjumpers the chance to impress the judges and spectators with their bravery and skill. Taking the lead rein showjumping title this year was Tiernan Diamond Carey, while Eliosia Boulger took the title in the cross pole showjumping class.

The jockey and groom showjumping class involved teams of two, with the jockey first jumping the course on a pony followed by the groom jumping the course on foot. It was evident that Philip Duane and his groom Diarmuid Roche had serious practice put in beforehand, which led them to jumping clear in the fastest time.

Beautifully and creatively plaited ponies entered the ring for the best mane and tail class. A huge amount of time must have gone into getting ponies ready for this class, with manes and tails decorated in flowers, ribbons, bows and glitter. Sadhbh O’Toole took a break from her busy dressage career to attend the show and her plaiting skills were rewarded when she received first prize for her pony Kayleigh.

An array of colour could be seen in the arena for the Fancy Dress class. Entries included a superhero, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, and Willy Wonka. Following a long deliberation in a class of very creative entries the judges chose Yann and Alex Walch’s entry ‘On Safari’ (above left) as the winner. ‘Pony Most Like its Owner’ was awarded to Belle and her owner Ciara Heanue who wowed the judges in their purple ensemble. 

The obstacle course is always great fun and once again proved challenging for all contestants. Spectators were on the edge of their seats as they cheered on the riders. The appearance of a giant Winnie the Pooh caught out a few people, with Ciara Heanue and her pony Lochy ultimately scooping the prize in the final class of the day.

A huge thanks goes to the Noonan Family for the use of their fantastic facilities, and to the judges, stewards and volunteers without whom the show could not have been run. 

A very special thank you to all the generous sponsors and most importantly thanks to all the competitors who took part. We look forward to welcoming you all back again next year! 

In the meantime, keep an ear out for some exciting news regarding next year’s classes.

All photos from the show can be viewed on the Connemara Therapeutic Riding Facebook page. If you are interested in finding out more about Connemara Therapeutic Riding please contact Marion on 083 8418448