Festival Fun at Stradbally
New classes added to already packed schedule
With more than 1,000 horse and rider combinations entered for the AIRC festival this weekend, Stradbally Hall is the only place to be for amateur riders. There are almost 80 classes scheduled for the two-day event so there is something for everyone, whether you are a competitor, spectator or volunteer.
Construction of the on-site stabling at the festival began last weekend and is believed to be one of the biggest temporary stabling facilities in the country -- 340 stables have been shipped in from Wales for the event.
The AIRC festival is remarkable not just for the logistical challenge it provides the 24-person organising committee but also because of the distinctive atmosphere during the weekend.
The festival is a unique mix of social and competitive interaction between amateur riders. Riding club members who are active in their own clubs and regions can take the opportunity to pit their skills against members from other clubs but also make friends and expand their social networks.
The festival also provides amateurs with a taste of what professional riders do for a living by staying away at shows, stabling overnight and competing on consecutive days.
This year's schedule includes three new classes. The Intermediate Performance Hunter class is open to horses of any height above 142cm ridden by Intermediate showjumping graded riders. The class will be judged over a course of fences on their way of jumping, going and manners, and the top 25 riders will qualify to compete in the Intermediate section of the Working Hunter Championship.
The Veteran Horse class, open to horses aged 17 and over, is designed to provide an outlet for horses that, despite their age, have plenty of petrol left in the tank, as their owners will testify.
The third new class, the Working Hunter Championship, will be split into three sections: Intermediate (0.90m), four- and five-year-olds (0.90m) and Advanced Intermediate/ Open/Advanced Open section (1m). The competition comprises of two phases -- phase one includes jumping a set of rustic fences and phase two includes conformation and showing.