By Bree Rutledge
February 12, 2021
WELL-known endurance rider Helen McFarland from Co. Down, writes:
I had the recent privilege of saying a final goodbye to ‘Just Paddy’, my equine companion for over 30 years. Without the benefit of ‘Paddy’s’ indomitable spirit and iron constitution, I would never have gone on to enjoy an endurance career, which has enabled me to compete all over Ireland and Britain, as well as further afield and to have the honour of representing Ireland at European and World Championship level and at the World Equestrian Games.
‘Paddy’ and I started out together in mid 1990 and spent several happy years hunting with the North Down, flying round cross-country courses and doing all the usual Riding Club activities. Nothing ever seemed to tire ‘Paddy’ out and when we took up the newly emerging sport of endurance in 1995, he made swift progress through the various qualification levels at 20, 25, 30, 40 and 50 miles, with ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association).
I caught the endurance ‘bug’ myself and quickly became addicted to the fascinating challenge of competing over long distances, riding across different terrain and adapting speed and tactics to my horse’s level of fitness. But I can still remember the astonishment I felt when Lorraine Sloan (whose help and guidance were invaluable to me as a very novice endurance rider), casually mentioned one day that she was training to do a ride of 100 miles in a day – I had no notion such a thing was possible, 50 miles seemed more than enough!...
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