Insurance is vital for the future of charity events
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.
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.