Irish Pony Club H and A Test - Setting and Reaching My Goals by Lydia Dawson

Lydia Dawson, Ward Union Branch achieved the highest honour in the Irish Pony Club this year when she successfully passed both the H and A Tests with honours.  This is a remarkable achievement.  In the following article, Lydia describes how she has reached this exceptional goal, describing the steps that she has taken this year and giving us a wonderful insight into her goals for the future.  This piece is very interesting and well worth a read.  Maybe it might inspire more young Irish Pony Club members to strive to reach the standards of the Senior Proficiency Tests.  

"One of my goals this year was to pass the final two Irish Pony Club Tests, the H and the A test. It is a really great feeling when you set yourself a goal and you not only achieve it, but receive honours in both.

When it came to the end of the H Test and Tony Ennis announced that we had all passed, I felt really proud, not only proud of myself, but of the whole group. It was a really long day, we were all mentally and physically tired, but it was worth it. At the end of the day we had a group picture taken, I felt a great sense of belonging, being stood there with all of the other like-minded, enthusiastic horsemen and women.

For me, the Irish Pony Club has always been associated with fun, learning and laughing. Throughout my time in the Pony Club I have had the most amazing instructors. Instructors who I am now trying to emulate in my own teaching, the ones that come to mind are Anna Garcia, Liz Rozario and Toni Graham, to name but a few. Pony club camp held each year in Tattersalls, Co. Meath was certainly the highlight of the calendar. It was always so much fun, the end of the week prize giving, water fight and barbeque are very special memories for me.

For the last year I have been working really hard on my riding and horsemanship. I spent much of the winter working for Joseph Murphy, who is based in Northern Ireland, and came away a mentally stronger and more confident rider. I'm really grateful to Joseph, and his wife Jill, for their continued support and look forward to getting the time to go back and work for them again soon. I travelled to Badminton with Joseph and Sportsfield Othello in May of this year. It was an eye-opening experience and when I got home I decided that I would get there with a horse myself one day, and no matter how long it takes I want to achieve that.

I evented quite a bit in the spring of this year and brought two home produced horses to the Home International in Kilguilkey House, Cork, at the end of June. Since then I haven't got any eventing in due to being very busy with the riding school at home which is our family business. There were quite a few changes this year with staff, myself and my mum Helena have a lot to do with the running of it now, so I had to prioritise that.

I hope that by spring of next year we will have the riding school working away itself so that I can get more eventing in. My ultimate goal is to ride at the top level of the sport. I have an incredible team around me, made up of my mum who is my rock, and the staff at home, they're all fantastic and we all work very well together. I have a super string of young horses who I want to produce slowly and correctly so that they can be top level team horses in years to come. I have a new owner that has come on board with some fantastic young horses so I’m really looking forward to getting the first of them.

Kay Nolan was an enormous help to me in achieving honours in the H test, I wouldn't have been able to pass it without her invaluable knowledge and regular trainings. Kay is such an asset to our area of the Pony Club (area 7) and I am grateful to her for all of her hard work.

In preparation for my A test I needed to improve my flat riding, and decided to go to HSI Level 3 Dressage Coach, Maureen Dywer, who is based in Dunboyne. I have had lessons with Maureen in the past, but never stuck to them as I unfortunately never prioritised my flat work riding. I am so glad I started working alongside Maureen, and will continue to work with her to improve my dressage marks. Maureen is a genius when it comes to dressage riding, she is so encouraging and a wizard in helping me to get the best out of my horses.

Johnny O'Connell has helped me a lot with my jumping, ever since I was about eight years old I have been having regular lessons with him. I find his calm and methodical approach to showjumping extremely helpful. He puts me in a good mindset about my riding, this is very important to me, not only on competition days but also in my day-to-day riding. Having a plan and executing that plan to the best of my ability is the baseline of Johnny’s lessons.
I have always had to fund myself when competing, and in order to do this I bought and sold on quite a few horses in the last three years. I had a home produced 5-year-old placed in the 5-year-old Young Event Horse class in Dublin last year, Steppe Rebel, after which was sold to England and is doing very well eventing.
Gloster boy, a home produced 15h connemara who had numerous wins in Dublin horse show, and took me to CIC2* is now eventing and doing Pony Club in the UK. Gloster was produced alongside mum and Anne Stanley, who initially gave me the ride on the quirky 4-year-old.

Tullamaine Templar, was a superb 15.2h gelding by Templebrady Fear Buí, who mum bought as an in-hand three-year-old at Killusty Pony Show. I then evented him to one-star level before selling him on, he is in the most fantastic home and is now doing amazing things on the Dressage Ireland scene.
Killina Lad, who I bought as a 3-year-old from our Huntsman at the Fingal harriers, Chris Smith. Now a 6-year-old completed his first CIC1* earlier this year will be sold by the end of the season.

I am planning a busy winter of training and look forward to what 2019 has in store."

Thank you Lydia.  The very best of luck with your future equine career. 


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