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The college has a very active equestrian club which participates at nearly all the Inter school equestrian activities – show jumping, hunter trials etc. We also run our own Inter school show jumping competition and have our very own Horse Show every May.
The second level schools’ league showjumping has gradually been established over the last number of years and its popularity is growing yearly. Most years there are 22 league events held all over the country. Teams travel from the four corners of Ireland to compete and the average number of teams at an event is between 40 and 50. That means that on a given day up to 200 pupils from all over Ireland are competing for their school. Certain schools have been involved in the league since its inception, including Newbridge. This year in particular other schools previously not involved, have established showjumping teams. In particular there are now a number of schools from the west of Ireland competing, although the principal catchment area is still the midlands and the east/southeast.
The team competition is the principal event. Teams jump 2 rounds of jumps and those who finish on 0 faults qualify for the jumpoff round to decide the placings. Those who win or are placed on the day receive points which will eventually decide the winner of the League.The principal league is the Hoofprints league, sponsored by Hoofprints equestrian photography. For this the school’s 5 best results over the season are counted towards the Hoofprints League Final, held at the end of the season. This can be very exciting as the result can change dramatically since points and a half are awarded in the final, which means that the school going in to the competition final in the lead can be overtaken by another school scoring well on the day. For the last number of years Newbridge College has either won or has been runner up in the league. An Individual competition is also held with the same league rules applying. This is usually a one round speed round, which is very exciting to watch. Newbridge competitor Alyssa O’Neill has won the Hoofprints league for the last 2 years in a row!
A lot of the host schools/venues run novice competitions also. These are aimed at competitors who want to compete but do not feel ready for the open competition yet. All photos from the competitions are available to view on www.hoofprints.ie
Besides the excitement of Hoofprints league final the highlight of the college show jumping year for the last four years has been competing at the British Schools Show Jumping Championships held in England's premier show jumping arena, Hickstead, home of the Derby Competition. On our first outing The College was represented by two teams, both of whom finished in the top twenty out of 63 teams from all over the British Isles and Ireland.
Pictured are Una Delahunt Alyssa O’Neill Leanne O’Sullivan Aisling Doyle Hannah McDonnell and Louise Morrison
In the summer of 2011 Ireland was represented by five schools, Colaiste Bhride, Carnew, Kilkenny College, Loretto College Kilkenny and St Finian’s, Mullingar all of whom had teams that finished in the top twenty. In the final round there was an Irish versus English jump off with noth Newbridge and Kilkenny qualified to jump off. Our Irish teams competing in Hickstead on Thursday 4th August 2011 did the College proud. Our senior team Maedhbh Brassil, Hannah Sutton and Aoife Murphy were one of only 2 teams to jump clear and qualify to jump the final round in the famous Hickstead International Derby Arena. They were joined by only 8 other teams from the 67 teams from all over Britain and Ireland and finished in 5th place overall! Our junior team Megan Flanagan, Karen Casey, Gillian Wall and Emma O'Callaghan finished in 11th place in the junior competition just missing out on qualification for the final round of their competition.
Pictured Aoife Murphy, Maedhbh Brassil and Hannah Sutton in Hickstead
Our school equestrian activities are not just confined to show jumping, although that would be the major part of it We also participate in the All Ireland Inter schools Hunter Trials competition and for this you need to attend hunter trials regularly or hunt regularly and to have a fit pony to compete at it. Since our members participate in various different equestrian activities we always have a large entry for this. Over the last few years Newbridge team has been placed in the top ten of this competition, which attracts as many as seventy teams and Newbridge rider Alyssa O’Neill was junior individual champion in 2010 and senior individual runner up in 2011. However it is not all about competing. The college equestrian club members fall into a number of categories, those that wish to compete regularly for the college, those that would like to and are actively attending rallies so that they can and those that just wish to attend the rallies to improve their riding skills. We hold regular rallies in Coilog Equestrian Centre in Kilmeague. We also hold our own fun competition between Christmas and Easter, with competitions for all levels and the college hosts its own show in May. At this show there are 2 classes confined to college pupils. These mark the end of the equestrian club year and are hotly contested as they decide who will be the recipients of the college cup for more experienced riders and the Iris Kellett cup for novice riders at Prize Day. We also host a Hoofprints league competition in October
As you can see equestrian activities are many throughout the year. They demand commitment, not just from the members but from the members’ parents or guardians as these are the people who transport you and your pony to events, are unpaid grooms and cheerleaders and are there to be moaned at and given out to when everything goes pear shaped! And this being horse riding is a lot of the time. But they are also on hand to praise and to join in the celebration of a round well done. They also get to keep in touch willingly or unwillingly with the people they meet at all the pony club and other events during the summer as it tends to be the same people that do both. And at the end of a long day they have the dubious pleasure of driving the sleeping rider and pony home in the dusk.
Participating in interschools showjumping encourages team work. It encourages the pupils involved to be supportive of each other. Friendships that last beyond school are formed and it does not matter whether one is in second year or sixth year. As with equestrian activities in general a sense of responsibility is fostered, since animals, to perform at their best require to be looked after very well. Most of our pupils involved would have to feed and look after their horse before school and in the evenings. They also have to exercise the horse to keep it fit for competition. Interestingly the majority of those involved also participate fully in all other school activities, whether sporting or otherwise. It is also expected that they perform well academically.