IPC Branch Officials Training Day Report

The Irish Pony Club Branch Officials Training Day took place on Saturday 27th January 2018 at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Co. Laois.
Approximately, sixty-five Branch Officials from across the country made the trip to Abbeyleix and engaged in an excellent discussion with our speakers. Thank you to everyone who made the journey. We hope that you received some valuable information from the day.

A huge thank you also to our speakers who gave their time to discuss and present on their relevant fields of knowledge. Thank you to:

  • Barbara Micks, IPC Executive Chairman
  • Elaine Lait, IPC Board of Directors Chairman and Designated Liaison Person
  • Tony Ennis, IPC Chairman of Training
  • Michael Adams, Its Plain Sailing
  • Hugh Jones, Sytorus
  • Jane Farrell, IPC Administrator
  • Christina Cullen, IPC Administrative Assistant and Authorised Liaison Person
  • Tara Warren, IPC Administrative Assistant
  • Syl Ryan, IPC Chairman of Show Jumping
  • Dr. Marina Brennan, IPC Chairman of Eventing
  • Eilidh Hyland, IPC Mounted Games Secretary / Treasurer
  • Seán Sargent, IPC Tetrathlon Committee Member

For those Branch Officials that were unable to attend the Branch Officials Training, we have drafted a brief summary of the information presented during the day.  The slides from each presentation are also available to download and print after each summary below.

Barbara Micks, Executive Chairman opened proceedings by welcoming everyone to Abbeyleix and thanking them for making the effort to travel to the training day. Before proceeding to the main business of the morning, Barbara asked Dr. Marina Brennan to speak briefly about Concussion Advice Forms for parents. It is recommended that these forms are available at each branch. Each book of forms costs just €2 and may be purchased from the IPC Shop. These forms provide advice to parents and Branch Officials on the occurrence of a concussion at an event. The forms detail the signs and symptoms of concussion and provide advice regarding concussion management. Dr. Brennan also advised all Branches to assign a person to take charge of the Branch First Aid Kit and take responsibility for ensuring that it is fully equipped and up to date. Finally, she recommended that all officials should become familiar with the Concussion Rules and Medical Plan, which are both available on the Downloads page of the website.

Barbara Micks continued by expressing her sincere sympathies to the families of Patrick McCormack (Nenagh Branch), Dean Cobb (Offaly Branch) and Dorcas Corrigan of Lisgarvan House (Hosts of the Eventing and Hunter Trial Championships on numerous occasions). A minute’s silence was held in remembrance of their passing.

Barbara gave a brief description of the Structure of the Irish Pony Club organisation. It comprises of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Discipline Committees, the Area Representatives, the District Commissioners (DC) and the members. She recommended that any DCs or Branch Officials who had any questions or queries should contact their Area Representative for advice or assistance. (The contact details for all Area Representatives are included in the 2018 edition of the Irish Pony Club Who's Who). Barbara stated that, this is a very exciting time for members of the IPC. It is a time of change. In order to comply with legislation, the Irish Pony Club is in the process of developing and approving a new constitution. The consultation and development process is well advanced and almost ready for publication. In conjunction with the new constitution, the IPC Administration Rules are being reviewed and updated. A task force has been created to fulfil this brief and they are steadily working on these projects.

Jane Farrell, the newly appointed Administrator of the Irish Pony Club was warmly welcomed by Barbara Micks. Jane began working with the IPC in early December of 2017. Jane is ably supported by Melissa, Christina and Tara in the IPC office. The key piece of advice that Barbara offered to all DCs and their committees was 'Don't Break your own Rules', i.e. don't create a rule and then change it. She also mentioned that it is essential to delegate and involve the committee and people of the Branch.

Safeguarding and the Role of the Children’s Officer
Elaine Lait, newly elected Chairman of the Irish Pony Club Board of Directors and National Designated Liaison Person made a short presentation on Safeguarding and the Role of the Children's Officer. Elaine noted that Safeguarding and Child Protection is not solely about protecting the child. It is also about protecting the Parent, the DC, the Instructor, the Branch Official etc. All officials and instructors who work regularly with children should complete the Safeguarding 1 workshop. This is a three-hour workshop. HSI organise and run Safeguarding workshops during the year. However, she also explained that the Local Sports Partnerships located across the country frequently organise Safeguarding workshops. Refresher courses are also available online through Sport Ireland for those who have completed the Safeguarding workshop in the past and need to update it.
It is a requirement of the IPC that every Branch should have appointed a Children's Officer. However, it is the duty of the entire committee to ensure that safeguarding and child protection procedures are in place. A person should be designated for every camp, rally, training day etc as the Children's Officer responsible for that day’s activities. Common sense plays a key role in safeguarding:

  • Do not speak with a child on your own. There should always be another adult present.
  • Avoid physical contact at all times.
  • For camp and overnight stays, ensure that there is a balance between male and female supervisors.
  • Do not communicate with members of your branch under 18 years of age using mobile phones.
  • Do not 'Friend' anyone under 18 on Facebook.
  • Do not become a member of a closed group where some of the members are under 18.

If a concern or an incident is brought to your attention. Remain calm, listen and take all of the information on board. Do not offer an opinion. Remember at some point, you need to hear the child's story. You may need to speak with the child at another time, if they are unable to relate the story initially. Assure the parents or guardians that you will investigate the concern. At all times, respect the confidentiality of the parties involved. Don't raise the concerns at a committee meeting. Speak to the relevant parties confidentially, with a second person present. Try to resolve the concern at an early stage. If the concern or incident is allowed to linger and remain unresolved, the parties may become angrier and more upset. Document in a diary, the information that you gather including who spoke to who etc. If the concern or incident progresses further and a formal letter is issued, ensure that you reply to the letter acknowledging the request and assuring the parties that you will investigate. Again, do not offer any opinion. Keep the parents or guardians involved and informed and reassure them that you will get back to them with a decision. Where cases escalate or in cases of cyber bullying, where you require more advice, please contact the National Children's Officer or the National Designated Liaison Person.

Training and Education
Tony Ennis, Chairman of Training provided an entertaining and informative presentation which encouraged all present to actively engage with the material. Tony began by explaining the requirements for the Instructors Register. All Irish Pony Club Instructors must have been Garda Vetted through the Irish Pony Club. For inclusion, on the IPC Instructors Register, instructors are also required to have completed the IPC application form, attended a Safeguarding workshop, attained 2 CPD points in the calendar year, completed a first aid course and paid the €20 fee. Instructors who continue to meet these requirements during the year will be included on the online version of the Instructors Register which will be available to download from the IPC website. The presentation continued by describing the qualities and requirements of a good trainer. The full details of this presentation including all of the qualities required in a good trainer can be downloaded from the link below. A good trainer must incorporate a small amount of each of these teaching styles, command, co-operative and submissive. They should also involve the members in their learning. To demonstrate this technique, Tony requested the help of a volunteer. Rather than simply showing the volunteer a dressage test and asking them to read it and learn it, Tony asked them to walk through the test and complete it. Thus, involving them in their learning. Tony also demonstrated by involving members in the audience in a treasure hunt that all branch activities do not have to be mounted. Every branch activity should try to include a friendly atmosphere, plenty of activity and skill development, fun and play. The exercises should represent the individual levels of each participant moving from simple to complex. Stable management should be included as well. Most importantly always remember to be flexible. An activity may have to be adjusted and modified to meet the requirements of any given day. Don't forget always be inclusive and approachable. A brief description was provided of the preparation that is required to prepare for the tests. The details of which are located in the presentation below.

Finally, Tony discussed the importance of safety in every branch activity. There should be an authorised official (Safety Officer) at every Camp or Rally deputised to be in charge of the safety of all fixtures such as jumps, fences, tables, tents, etc. which could cause an accident. The safe construction of all fixtures is the responsibility of the Branch Official. Risk Assessment should also be carried out on every venue used by the branch for activities. Risk Assessment form templates are available to download from the Officials page of the IPC website. Thank you to all of the volunteers who were brave enough to step forward and participate in the demonstrations.

Training Presentation

Its Plain Sailing
Michael Adams gave a comprehensive and informative presentation on the administration of the Its Plain Sailing site. Its Plain Sailing is an excellent resource that allows branch officials to easily manage memberships and create events and activities. Application forms may be customised and created to meet the specific requirements of the branch. User permissions may be set to restrict and allow different committee members access to various parts of the site. For example, the administrator of the site may have access to all areas of a site but they may decide to give permission to a second user to create events. They can restrict the second user from viewing all of the membership information so that they can only view and edit the event creation sections. Michael has a very effective 'Help and Support' section on the site. This section provides detailed help on how to edit each section of the site. There are also tutorials that take you through the steps needed to work on each section.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation will come into force in May 2018. To this end, Hugh Jones from Sytorus, Specialists in Data Protection provided an interesting and enlightening presentation for our Branch Officials on the subject of GDPR. Hugh began by noting that the IPC have taken a positive and proactive stance to prepare for and manage the new regulations. The IPC have taken responsibility for the Branches and their activities by engaging consultation to develop policies and guidelines for the organisation. Consequently, Sytorus and the IPC are working together to develop a handbook containing guidelines and step by step procedures for the Branches to help them to comply with this new legislation. There are a number of important points from Hugh's presentation that all Branch Officials should consider going forward:

  • Be mindful of the new regulations and the information that your Branch collects.
  • To minimise the risk of breach, reduce the amount of information that you collect and gather.
  • Ensure that you are fair and transparent in your collection of data i.e. make sure that the people and members that you are collecting data from understand the reasons and the purpose of the data request.
  • When collecting personal information and data from members and individuals, only request information that is relevant i.e. don't request information that is not essential for membership or the running of an event.
  • Remember every time you send information by e-mail etc., you are removing it from the control of the organisation. Therefore, consider if it is necessary to share the information.
  • Similarly, limit access to data and information held by the organisation to the people in authority who need access to it.
  • Respond quickly to any requests by an individual to protect their rights.
  • The new legislation does not specify how long data should be retained or stored in on organisation. To identify the length of time that different types of data should be stored, we need to look to each specific law. However, this will be covered in the report and guidelines that Sytorus will produce for the IPC.
  • Ensure that data, records and information are kept secure and confidential.

To download the presentation from Hugh Jones and Sytorus, please select the link below. Further updates and guidelines will be published on this topic as we receive them.

GDPR Presentation

IPC Staff Presentations
The afternoon session at the Branch Officials Training Day began with presentations from the IPC Staff Members, Jane, Christina and Tara. Jane Farrell introduced herself to all present and mentioned that she was looking forward to meeting everyone and working with them into the future. She acknowledged that she has a steep learning curve ahead but is anticipating the challenge and will work steadily to support the branches in their work. Jane gave a short presentation on the topic of Insurance. A new claims and accidents reporting procedure will take effect this year. The aim is to simplify and streamline the procedure. As a result of this, our insurance brokers Howden have created an Insurance Microsite to provide all of the information that a Branch may require regarding the Irish Pony Club Insurance Policies. This site contains explanations of the different policies and how they relate to IPC members and Branches. There is also a detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions. The site is currently under construction. However, IPC members can access the site through the link below. This is a great opportunity for members to participate in the construction of the site and if there are any items that are missing or that you feel should be included on the site, please get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The specific procedure for accident and claims reporting will be published when it becomes available. All branches should keep a record of every incident and accident that occurs at any branch activity. To this end a spreadsheet will be created to allow branches to record the details of every incident and accident that occurs in the branch. The purpose of this document is to keep a record or a diary of these incidences and accidents in case a claim is reported in the future. An incident and an accident are defined as follows for the purpose of this document.

  • An incident is defined as “a chance happening resulting in only very minor or possibly no injury or damage.”
  • An accident is defined as “a chance happening resulting in an injury requiring medical inspection and possibly treatment. Damage that needs specialized repairing would be categorised as an accident.”

This spreadsheet will be e-mailed to each branch when it is completed.

Insurance Presentation

Howden Insurance Microsite

Christina Cullen delivered a presentation on the Branch Activity Notices for Insurance Purposes and the new E-Vetting procedures. An updated version of the Branch Activity for Insurance Purposes spreadsheet was circulated to all branches in January. The purpose of this spreadsheet is to gather a list of all of the activities that take place in a branch during the year to record them for our Insurance Brokers Howden. In addition, at the end of the year the data in these spreadsheets is analysed for statistical purposes, to identify the amount of each activity that takes place country wide. Going forward we would request that branches complete this form in its entirety, filling in each field. Some points to note when completing this form:

With effect from the 23rd of January 2018, the Irish Pony Club has moved fully to e-Vetting meaning that paper-based Garda Vetting forms will no longer be accepted. E-Vetting will allow applicants to be vetted in a quicker and easier manner than before (usually in the region of 5 working days once the completed online application has been reviewed and submitted by the Irish Pony Club to the National Vetting Bureau). The Irish Pony Club currently requires that all DCs, Secretaries, Branch Children’s Officers and Instructors be Garda Vetted. It is recommended that any person who is instructing or working with children or vulnerable adults on a regular basis must also be Garda Vetted. Garda Vetting is not necessary when a person gives assistance on an occasional basis only.
There are six steps to completing the E-Vetting process. These steps are clearly explained on the E- Vetting - What You Need to Know document which you can access under the heading Child Welfare on the Downloads page of the website. The Garda Vetting Invitation Form is also available to download from the Downloads page of the IPC website. To begin the E-Vetting process, complete this form and submit it to the IPC office with the proof of your identification. (Proof of Identification - Present the original copy plus a photocopy of your identification to a Branch Official or Area Representative. When they have verified that the original identification is correct, they must sign and date the photocopy of the identification. These signed photocopies should be submitted to the IPC office with your Invitation to Garda Vetting Form.) The full details from Christina's presentation can be viewed through the link below.

E-Vetting Presentation

Christina also provided Branch Officials with several vital pieces of information on the topics of Membership and Finance. In 2018 the membership or subscription fees increased to €110, €80 of which is payable to the IPC. Membership cards will not be processed until payment is received in the office. One common error which appears each year is:

  • Duplication of Membership - When renewing a member if you cannot remember their membership number please do not give them a new one e.g. 1234657 because this causes duplication. Please contact your Branch or Melissa in the IPC Office (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you cannot remember your membership number.

DC's are responsible for the finances of their Branch, but they must appoint a Treasurer to record all financial transactions within the Branch. Up-to-date financial details must be recorded at each Branch Committee meeting. Several key recommendations for DC's and Treasurers are located in the presentation located below. Please note: All payments must be made to the office within 30 days of receiving an invoice. If you have any questions or queries regarding membership or insurance, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Membership and Finance Presentation

Tara Warren delivered a brief presentation providing details of how to submit articles, photographs and results for the IPC website and Facebook pages. She noted that it is the responsibility of all administrators of websites and social media accounts to monitor the content and comments that appear on the site. She recommended that all Branch Officials should read the Child Protection and Welfare Policies and Procedures as well as the IPC Social Media Policy. These are available to download on the Downloads page of the website. Content that you wish to display on the IPC website or Facebook pages should be sent in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the following formats:

Photographs – Send in originals, where possible to ensure quality is maintained. Must have permission from a parent / guardian to use photographs.
Documents and Flyers – Microsoft Word or Excel and PDF (If a flyer is submitted in PDF, any changes to the flyer information at a later date must be re-submitted. We cannot change the information on a PDF document).
Results and Tables – Check that they are correctly fitting onto the A4 page as you would like them to appear on the site.
Any questions or queries regarding the location of information on the IPC website or Facebook can be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Tara also highlighted the most common errors that appear on entry forms for the various IPC competitions and activities. These include:

  • A Branch member forgot to enter.
  • Using BLOCK CAPITALS to complete the form. (Please complete the forms in regular sentence case as you wish to see them printed on the programme.)
  • Filling in the Date of Birth in the Age Column.
  • Branch Team Names - Team Names should always begin with the Branch name, E.g. Tipperary Titans or Bray Bobcats.
  • Incorrect Spelling and Spacing of Competitor Names and Horse / Pony Names.
  • Changes to Teams and or Team Order.

These errors result in a delay to the preparation of the Branch Running Order which is posted on the IPC website before each competition. Therefore, it is recommended that Branches should set a Branch Closing Date for National IPC Competition Entries approximately 2 - 3 days before the Official IPC Closing Date. This step would allow Branches to:

  • Check that all members have registered.
  • Check that all of their details are correct.
  • Check that they have entered the correct classes.
  • Assign Team Names or Running Orders to the members of a Team.

Opening the Its Plain Sailing system for competition entries after the Official IPC Closing Date can result in significant delays to the programming process because the entries spreadsheet cannot be downloaded until all of the entries have been correctly submitted by each Branch.
Tara also highlighted the complexity of the Holmestead Saddlery Tetrathlon competition entries. Gun Authorisation must be obtained for the Holmestead Saddlery Tetrathlon Championships. If any of the following is submitted incorrectly or missing altogether, it can result in many complications for the programming of the championship.

  • Name of Branch Shooting Trainer.
  • Gun Make and Model.
  • Gun Serial Number.
  • Abbreviated Branch Names with the number of the Gun - i.e. Duhallow = DW1, Killinick = KN1. The Abbreviated Branch Names will be available on the IPC website.

Additionally, spot checks may be carried out at the championships by the guards. Therefore, all of the gun information listed below must be correctly submitted and presented to the guards. The final piece of information which can affect the programming is the Number of Swimming Lengths (Lengths and Metres). If this information is incorrect, it can result in the competitor being placed in the wrong swim heat.
Consequently, because Tetrathlon is not a qualifying event, the Official Closing Date for entries for Tetrathlon will be around the middle of July (Date TBC) to enable us to apply for gun authorisation etc. Please Note: The Official Closing Date will not be extended for Branches who hold trials after the closing date. Please take note of all of the closing dates during the year and plan branch activities and trials relating to championships around this. If any Branch has any questions or queries regarding competition entries, please contact the IPC office before the Official Closing Date, to enable the staff to help you and solve any problems that you may be experiencing with the system.

Website and Event Entries Presentation

The final presentations at the Branch Officials Training Day were provided by Syl Ryan, Chairman of Show Jumping, Dr. Marina Brennan, Chairman of Eventing, Eilidh Hyland, Mounted Games Secretary / Treasurer and Seán Sargent Tetrathlon Committee Member. Each speaker delivered a brief summary of their discipline. Dates for available qualifying competitions were announced and these will be published on the IPC website as they become available. Syl announced details of a new competition called the Senior Area Team Show Jumping Competition. This will enable Branches who cannot create a Senior Branch Show Jumping Team to partner with neighbouring Branches in a similar situation. Requests to create Senior Area Teams must be submitted to the Area Representative and permission must be granted before they can compete in the Show Jumping Area Qualifiers. The full details will be published on the IPC website when the 2018 Show Jumping Rule Book is completed.

Barbara Micks closed the training day by thanking all of those present for their time and attention. She also expressed her thanks to all of the speakers who presented during the day.




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