In­sur­ance is vi­tal for the fu­ture of char­ity events

Irish Independent - Farming - - Horses - Ann Fitzger­ald

SPON­SORED, char­ity and fun cross-coun­try horse rides are now com­mon in many parts of the coun­try. But farm­ers have been ad­vised to check that any groups us­ing their lands for such e vents hold ad­e­quate in­sur­ance.

Many of these rides are or­gan­ised by hunts and David Lalor, Mas­ter of the Laois Fox­hounds, points out that reg­is­tered hunts would be in­sured for run­ning such events, which is crit­i­cal from the landowner’s point of view.

How­ever, even their own hunt in­sur­ance would only cover two rides a year. They would usu­ally do one or two more and this re­quires an additional pre­mium.

There is no na­tional um­brella body for these types of events so no fig­ures are avail­able as to the lev­els of monies raised but, es­pe­ciall y in the c ur­rent eco­nomic cli­mate, they are im­por­tant fundrais­ers f or char­i­ties, lo­cal ser­vices and other needy per­sonal causes.

Ire­land’s best known char­ity ride is held in Dromin/Ath­lacca in Co Lim­er­ick, which has raised al­most €500,000 since it was first run in 1992.

In­deed, this was the first such ride in the world to be run cross coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the brains be­hind the event, for­mer ju­nior Euro­pean showjump­ing cham­pion Brian McMa­hon. Prior to this, they were held on roads or tracks.

COM­MU­NITY

The ride, which is run by a lo­cal com­mu­nity group, takes place in Oc­to­ber. The l at es t r een­act­ment, run in aid of in­jured am­a­teur jockey JT McNa­mara, at­tracted 173 rid­ers.

This was well up on the pre­vi­ous year and Mr McMa­hon at­tributes this to di­vid­ing the ride into three lev­els, with se­ri­ous fences, mod­er­ate fences and no fences.

The Lim­er­ick na­tive be­lieves the key to its con­tin­u­ing ap­peal i s t he f ac t t hat t he c ourse changes ever year. In ad­di­tion, Mr McMa­hon says that people can fo­cus on ei­ther re­new­ing aquaintances or the “to­tally, ut­terly se­ri­ous jump­ing”. But he points out that big dou­ble banks are ac­tu­ally quite safe whereas rid­ers can tend to take a chance at smaller fences “es­pe­cially small banks, which are much tricker to jump”.

Mr McMa­hon also has some suc­cinc t ad­vice for rid­ers look­ing for a horse to cross coun­try: “For­get about ex­pe­ri­ence; brains and tem­per­a­ment are ev­ery­thing. A horse with no sense at four will have no more at 14,” he said.

While the fo­cus of many rides is the fund-rais­ing, Mr Lalor points out that the main pur­pose from their point of view is to nur­ture the good­will of t he lo­cal com­mu­nity and landown­ers.

These events tend to at­tract a broader spec­trum of rid­ers than hunt­ing , with most of the jump­ing op­tional, he adds.

With the growth i n the num­ber of these rides, and the eco­nomic down­turn, the cost of par­tic­i­pa­tion has dropped and now gen­er­ally ranges from €25 to €100.

“It no longer gen­er­ates huge money,” says Mr Lalor.

How­ever, the or­gan­is­ers gen­er­ally run an auc­tion in con­junc­tion with the rides which would add con­sid­er­ably to the to­tal funds col­lected.

San­dra Barn­well, from Crec­ora, Co Lim­er­ick, hunts with the Scar­teen, which runs be­tween two and four char­ity rides a year and she says these events can prove a valu­able shop win­dow for young horses. Scar­teen coun­try is famed for its big banks and she bought her own horse af­ter see­ing him on one of their char­ity rides

“Seventy fences over seven miles will find the bot­tom of a lot of horses, you can quickly sort the good from the bad.

“The cross-coun­try ride sea­son starts in ad­vance of the hunt­ing sea­son and a lot of people use it as an op­por­tu­nity to get their horses fit. There would be an­other peak of events from this time of year on­wards, as the hunt­ing sea­son starts to wind down,” she ex­plains.

A day’s hunt­ing is far more ex­pen­sive, Ms Barn­well points out. “And you are guar­an­teed jump­ing on a char­ity ride but its more luck on the day out hunt­ing,” she claimed.

The Laois Fox­hounds will hold a char­ity ride in Bal­la­colla in aid of the lo­cal school and lo­cal churches on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 23, start­ing at 2pm.

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