Sam’s Big Ride reaches Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Region at Shane Castle on Sunday 20 August
What a beautiful venue for a Big Ride and the sun shone too! There was plenty of room on Shane O’Neill’s wonderful property for riders and carriage drivers to head out in separate directions.
10 riders gathered at the farm steading with Robert Davis kindly bringing Cindy for Sam Orde to ride. Robert and his family host four RDA groups at their fabulous Laurel View Equestrian Centre. We enjoyed a 9 km ride along woodland tracks, passing along the banks of River Maine and Loch Neagh. Along the way it was great to hear from Patricia McClain, RDA coach for Lurgan Group about the successes of their new vaulting sessions and to hear more about their brilliant holiday programme.
The carriage drivers and some walkers gathered at the tea room next to the famous Shane Castle ruins. This was a hive of activity with a good gang of volunteers there to make sure that the day ran smoothly. 5 carriages and 14 carriage drivers from Ballyward RDA Group had come from two hours away and they were efficiently and calmly organised by Joanne Orr, who as well as running an RDA group provides carriages for weddings all over Ireland. The drivers aged from 5 to 70 years old took turns to complete a scenic 5 km drive, which I was told included passing spots where Game of Thrones was filmed. There was a great atmosphere and team work. The evident enjoyment of the carriage drivers was summed up by one young driver with autism:
‘I enjoy carriage driving because it is better than video games. It gets me out in the college holidays. I do it with 2 friends. I prefer doing this to anything else at the moment. I had never met a real horse until a few weeks ago and they are beautiful animals. Practising round cones in the indoor school taught me how to trot like this now. Now I would like to see what it is like to ride a horse and feel it trot when you sit on it. I still want to keep carriage driving as well.’
At the end of the afternoon all gathered for rosettes and certificates and to be thanked for fundraising for RDA’s new National Training Centre. This was the first Big Ride following completion of the purchase of Lowlands Farm, which is a big step towards this exciting project becoming reality!
Many thanks to Julie Frazer and all who helped make this a successful and enjoyable day.

Sponsor Sam at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/samorde

From back of carriage

Big Ride RDA UK events so far 10
RDA riders/vaulters/carriage drivers 78
volunteers & supporters riding/carriage driving 56
volunteers walking 96
Big Ride Total km with ponies 1114 km
Distance by volunteers on foot 265 km
Big Ride events to go 11

 

Page Last Updated: August 21, 2017