Not everything has to be a competition!  Ex-racers can make excellent leisure horses for rideouts, trails, hunting and plain old hacking.  They are good companions with curious intelligent characters, eager to please.  They’ve been used to riding out in groups so might need some time to adjust if you’re riding solo or need to ride away from another horse, but usually they take it in their stride.  Plan ahead though and ensure a friend is available to help out.

Throughout the country there are riding schools, Sunday rideouts around farmlands, mountain treks and beach rides.  Google your local area to find out more.  

Another avenue is to join the Association for Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC) who have a fantastic website and App that explains how to join and lists all the events and training in your area. Membership of the Association is 3,500 nationwide and there are 125 affiliated clubs and 8 regions.

If you do like to compete at amateur level, then there are a number of activities with championships held annually.   Individual and team show jumping, individual and team dressage, hunter trials and horse trails. Events are also held occasionally for Trec and Cross Jump.

The Association also holds Ireland’s biggest equestrian amateur event, the Riding Clubs Festival. This two-day event features up to 70 competitions and has attracted entries in excess of 2,500. Competitions are held in showjumping, dressage, showing and working hunter. The event is designed to cater for everyone as no qualification is necessary to enter the majority of the competitions. Punchestown racecourse hosted the first Riding Clubs Festival in 1990.

Depending on the regularity of your riding, it’s important to maintain your horse’s diet to ensure that the horse has enough condition but is not too fizzy so always consult your feed merchant or check our Ask an Expert.

The key to finding a horse with the right temperament is to talk to a retrainer about your expectations and they can help you source your perfect horse.  Good luck!