Irish Pony Club News

The Irish Pony Club 2019 Annual Conference was held in the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Co. Tipperary on Saturday 26th January 2019.  The following is a brief summary of the various topics discussed.  Links to presentations and additional information are located throughout. 

Opening Address

Mrs. Barbara Micks, Chairman of the Irish Pony Club Executive, opened the conference by welcoming everyone to the Horse and Jockey Hotel.  In her opening address, Barbara, outlined some of the many changes the Irish Pony Club (IPC) has experienced in the fifteen months since the last IPC Conference.  The IPC office has moved to new premises in Urlingford, Co. Kilkenny and we have welcomed two new members of staff, Jane Farrell our new Administrator and Catherine Ryan our new Membership and Accounts Administrator.  In addition, Barbara highlighted that the IPC is currently getting to grips with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the Children’s First Act and in the near future Horse Sport Ireland will assume responsibility for Garda Vetting.  Volunteers represent the backbone of an organisation and Barbara recognised this when she sincerely thanked all of the many longstanding and loyal volunteers who contribute to the development and the success of the Irish Pony Club.

Harold McGahern was one of these longstanding volunteers.  Harold was a valued member of the Irish Pony Club, co-founding Co. Longford Hunt Branch and was an active and long-standing member and Chairman of the Irish Pony Club Board of Directors.    In the words of Co. Longford Hunt Branch, Harold "was a wonderful promoter of equestrian sport, always encouraging young talent, many of whom went on to compete at an international level".  Harold was generous with his time, commitment and loyalty to the Irish Pony Club, for which he shall be fondly remembered.  A minute’s silence was held in memory of the late Harold McGahern who passed away in 2018.

Barbara continued by recognising that as an organisation, we must continue to strive towards good governance practices, refreshing committees and opening up new opportunities for volunteers.  To this end, dedicated committees of the IPC have been working diligently to update and refresh administration policies.  This is a work in progress, which will continue through 2019.  The IPC Complaints Procedure represents one of the policies which has been successfully updated.  It is available to download from the Downloads page of the Irish Pony Club website.  Barbara expressed her thanks to the three Executive Committee members who have worked tirelessly to produce this document.  She also stressed that members should be aware that the administration policies of the IPC are under review and that members should check the Downloads page of the IPC website regularly throughout 2019 to ensure that they have the most up to date version of the policy.  Updated policies are clearly dated and highlighted within each category on the website.

To conclude, Barbara thanked all of the speakers who travelled to the conference and urged everyone present to engage with the speakers and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the experts.  Finally, she advised the delegates that Lady Celia Carew, President of the IPC had brought a book containing photographs of the early days of the UK Pony Club.  The UK Pony Club is celebrating ninety years during 2019.  This valuable book was on view throughout the conference and available for all to peruse.


Mr. Tom O’Donnell, Chairman of the Finance Committee presented an overview of the finances and provided an explanation of the 2017 accounts.  The accounts for 2017 show a loss of €18,469. This has been incurred due a demise in memberships and an increase in costs associated with the championships and discipline events.  Expenditure overall for 2017 decreased by €1,034 but profits from championships and discipline events are down by €15,849 since 2016 and over the past seven years income overall has decreased by €47,513.  Insurance was highlighted as one of the main expenditure costings, €48,538 for 2017 and for 2018 it will cost €53,307.  The Irish Pony Club CLG. cannot budget to trade at a loss.  Tom concluded by recognising that it is vital that the branches of the Irish Pony Club with the co-operation of the officers and the skills of the administration staff work together to revitalise the organisation.

Finance Presentation


Mrs. Elaine Lait, IPC Designated Liaison Person(DLP) and Chairman of the Board of Directors gave an informative and concise presentation on Safeguarding in the IPC.   She explained that regular volunteers, officers and instructors need to complete Safeguarding courses, applicable to their role.  These courses can be sourced locally through Sport Ireland and Local Sports Partnerships at a cost of approximately €25.00.  In order to maintain an accurate database of these records, copies of certificates attained at these workshops should be submitted to the IPC office.  Elaine continued by describing the purpose of the Safeguarding Risk Assessments and clarifying how it should be completed. 

Elaine also discussed the IPC Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure.  She advised all Branches to attempt to deal with complaints within the Branch.  Any member who would like to raise a concern should approach the Branch Children’s Officer, and the Children’s Officer should manage and listen to the entire incident or complaint.  The matter should not be raised at a committee meeting but should be dealt with confidentially.  She also advised Branches to remind parents of the Codes of Conduct at the Annual Parent Meeting.  Finally, Elaine spoke about the role of the Safety Officer.  She asking everyone to ensure that a risk assessment was carried out before every activity or event and to ensure that for example gates are shut, if ponies are tied up they are attended, asking that everyone is given a gentle reminder to carry out safe procedures.

Following a brief question and answer session, Elaine concluded her discussion by highlighting that volunteers who regularly (i.e. more than once a month) work with the members of the Branch should complete Safeguarding 1.  Children’s Officers must complete Safeguarding 1 and 2, while DC’s must complete Safeguarding 1 and 3.

 General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Mr. Hugh Jones, Chief Operating Manager of Sytorus, our GDPR Consultants delivered a presentation to the delegates outlining the seven principles of the law.  He asked those present to use common sense and practicality when approaching the topic of GDPR.  This law has become necessary due the modern world of IT, social media and technology, e.g. digital cameras, smart phones, trackers etc.   He advised that Branch officers are fundamentally responsible for implementing the procedures given by the office.  It is best practice to avoid a big problem, so officers are asked to endeavour to understand their role, be careful and diligent.  If the reputation of any organisation is lowered through a complaint or a breach then it takes a very long time to repair.  He recommended that Branches should not leak information and discussions should be kept to the correct people involved.   Personal data should only be shared where it is applicable.  The Data Commissioner is obliged to investigate every complaint.  Below is a summary of the seven principles of GDPR:

  1. Lawfulness, fairnessand  Officers must be aware of the purpose of personal data, keeping only relevant details and ensuring that the person is aware that you have their data.  This will minimise risk.
  2. Purpose Keep the use of data tight.
  3. Data minimisation. Only retain relevant personal information.
  4. Ensure that the data retained is accurate, e.g. a phone number may change.  There is an expectation that Members data is kept updated.  
  5. Storage limitation. Ensure that only relevant data is being retained.  It should be shredded with security in mind.  The IPC retention policy is being prepared and will be circulated as soon as it is finished. 
  6. Integrityand confidentiality (security).  Take a common-sense approach e.g. who has the keys to the filing cabinet, who has rights to certain data etc.  Are there passwords on the laptop, smart phones, laptops etc. 
  7. Accountability. The onus is on the directors, the office and the Branches to be able to be accountable for their use of personal data.  It was recommended that Branches maintain a clean desk policy to store away any personal data under lock and key or password protected.  Hugh also advised that Branches should use the Bcc function to send e-mails unless you are confident that all recipients are aware of each other’s email addresses.

 Hugh continued by explaining the Data Subjects Rights.  A data subject has the right to be forgotten, the right to restriction of processing, the right to object to certain processing, the right to data portability and rights in relation to Profiling and Automated Decision Making.  A data subject who questions the use of the personal data must be responded to within 30-days.   Therefore, a Branch should take the time to think and consider before providing and using personal data.   

Finally, delegates were advised that no individual should be obliged or mandatorily required to have to join an app group, for example WhatsApp in order to gain information.  An alternative way of conveying information should be given.  WhatsApp could be deemed unsuitable due to it being a two-way conversation as opposed to a pure information service. The delegates were advised to contact the office at any stage with any queries.

GDPR Presentation


Catherine Morgan, our account Manager at Howden Insurance Brokers introduced herself to the delegates.  She advised those present that a large part of the Membership cost is used for insurance.  Howden Group are insurance brokers, who ensure the IPC gain the best insurance deal with the most suitable Insurance Companies.  Due to the Brexit situation UK insurance companies are having to set up an office in the EU.  This situation is causing uncertainty in the industry.  Equestrianism is a very high-risk sport and it proves difficult to find suitable companies, therefore the costs can rise.  Catherine went on to explain that the IPC policies have secure cover in place for the IPC organisation.  Combined Liability (Employers Liability, Public Liability and Products Liability), Personal Accident (Volunteers and Members), Branch Property, Directors and Officers, Travel and IPC Property.  

Catherine explained that proper and careful Risk Management is vital, identifying, managing and reducing risk.  Please follow IPC Policy and Procedures.  Carry out Risk Assessments prior to every event.

Regarding Incident and Accidents, the IPC Incident Log must be completed to record an incident at any activity or event.  Should the person involved require medical attention then the Accident Form should be completed and sent to Howden Insurance, copying  the IPC office on the correspondance.  Alternatively, please contact the IPC office and they will forward the form, retaining a copy for office use.  Please retain your Incident Log ad infinitum; a claim can be made years after the incident and the saved information will make it all so much easier.

Branch Insurance Activity Form – this form has been sent to all Branches.  Please keep this updated regularly as and when you have an update.  This is required as a record for insurance.

Howden Insurance Presentation

Guest speaker

Mr. Henry Corbally, former group Chairman of Glanbia Co-op PLC and assistant Chairman of the National Dairy Board provided an interesting presentation for delegates at the conference.  Mr Corbally chose Volunteering and being a Team Player as the theme for his speech.  He gave an inspiring speech, very interesting and extremely funny causing laughter from the delegates.   He spoke about when his father bought him a pony and regaled many stories of his first IPC camp, where they camped on the sand dunes and he ‘met’ the fairer sex!  He recounted his very first Pony Show, where he managed to get eliminated twice.  Going on to become Master of the Tara Harriers and a resume of working life.  His speech was very well received by one and all.

The Carew Awards

Lady Celia Carew, President of the Irish Pony Club presented two Carew Awards.  These awards are given to those who are now retired from the IPC as Volunteers and who have given immense dedication, time, knowledge and advice to the organisation.  This year this prestigious award was given to Mr. Frank Whelan, who is long associated with the Mounted Games Committee, being a stalwart in the organising of this discipline, having given many years of time and dedication.  Frank was instrumental in developing and improving Mounted Games and introduced new competitions including the Autumn International.  The second Carew award was presented to Mr. Micky Skelly who was a long serving expert trainer in the same discipline, Mounted, Games.  Micky holds the honour of training the Meath Mounted Games to winning the RDS Leonard Trophy on seven occasions.  Significantly, he trained them to success in three consecutive years, twice in his career.  Both of these winners have given immeasurable time, dedication and support to the IPC throughout the years and are deserving winners of this prestigious award.

Lady Carew also awarded the trophies for the Lillingston Cup to Kildare Hunt Branch, the Carroll Cup to Duhallow Hunt Branch and the Tommy Brennan Memorial Trophy to Island Hunt Branch.  Congratulations to everyone involved in each of these Branches.

At this stage, the Conference adjourned for lunch and resumed at 2.00pm.

Implementing the Irish Pony Club Constitution in 2019

Dr. Kate Harvey, IPC Board of Director began proceedings following the lunchtime break by delivering an update on the implementation of the Irish Pony Club Constitution.  The IPC now has a revised structure the details of which can be seen in the presentation located below.  Within this new structure the IPC Board of Directors (BOD) has become more representative of the grass roots of the IPC.  The key point to note for Branches is that there will be two DC elected Directors on the IPC BOD.  These DC elected Directors will be nominated and appointed from the Elected Members of the IPC.  The Elected Members of the IPC consist of one DC from each Branch.  In the case of Joint DC’s, one must be selected as the DC elected Member.  These Elected Members will be invited to attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the IPC and each Elected Member will have a vote.  The AGM of the IPC will be held later this year and each Branch will be notified in advance with all of the information that they will require. To summarise, the IPC BOD has become more inclusive and will continue to do so.  There will be more of an opportunity for Elected Members of the IPC to have an input and a vote at the IPC AGM.

Implementing the Irish Pony Club Constitution in 2019 Presentation

Security in the Equestrian World

Two representatives from the National Crime Prevention Office Sergeant Graham Kavanagh and Sergeant Kelvin Courtney provided delegates at the IPC Conference with an interesting and informative discussion on security in the equestrian world.  In summary, they reported that equestrian crime has decreased across the country.  They recommended that owners should mark their property, take note of the serial numbers on items or take photographs of property to ensure that stolen items can recovered.  One of the problems faced by the guards is that recovered property is difficult to return to owners because it cannot be identified.  Both Crime Prevention Officers advised delegates to paint their Eircode onto their property to assist with property recovery.

There is one Crime Prevention Officer located in every division of the country.  On request, a Crime Prevention Officer will visit your property and provide advice on how you can take measures to improve security.  This is a little-known fact and may be of interest to IPC Branches and their members.  The Community Alert and the Text Alert programmes can be very effective preventative measures if used effectively in your area.  Some questions that all members should ask themselves include:

  • Assess the access to your property. Are there gates or can somebody drive straight in?
  • What items are left lying around the yard?
  • Have you a secure area to store property?
  • What type of lighting have you available around the yard?
  • Do you have alarms or monitored alarms?

By addressing these areas, the opportunity for burglaries decreases.  By putting physical security measures like secure gates, secure storage, lighting or alarms in place, a burglar may be put off.  At events, do not leave keys under the wheel arch of vehicles.  Elect one person within your group to mind items like keys phones etc.  One interesting point that was made regarded the theft of horses.  Where do you feed your horse when they are located in a field that may not be beside your property?  If you feed the horse regularly at the gate, you are increasing the ease by which a thief might steel your horse, because they can simply go up to the gate and steel it.  As a preventative measure, you should not regularly feed your horse at the gate.  Similarly, you should get to know the people who live around the areas where you have horses or animals and ask them to contact you if they see something strange.

Finally, both officers encourage delegates to report any incidents that occur.  It is essential because it allow the guards to allocate resources to areas and also to put in place checkpoints to discourage burglary.  One additional point was highlighted.  Assaults across the country have increased and they have unimaginable consequences.  Both officers encouraged delegates to advise members to use their brain and not their fists, to not get involved and to think of the consequences of their actions.   The key message from this presentation was “Lock up, Light Up”.

Training and Education

Mr. Tony Ennis, Chairman of Training provided an informative presentation for delegates at the IPC Conference.  Tony began by congratulating all IPC members who completed and passed their Senior Proficiency Tests in 2018.  He briefly, summarised the results from the tests in 2018 highlighting that members require more hands-on practice in some areas while the lungeing section of the H Test brought up many errors and mistakes.

The presentation continued by describing the qualities and requirements of a good trainer.  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.  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. 

Discipline Reports

Dressage and Combined Training

Dr. Kate Harvey, Chairman of the IPC Dressage and Combined Training Committee gave a report on the discipline.  The National Dressage Day was very successful and showed good attendance figures.  The Festival also was a great success, but had its problems with the hard ground and scheduling.  With the co-operation of all involved in the Festival organisation, the competitions were re-arranged for the sand arenas for safety purposes.  Large numbers competed in the Under 10 and under 12 Combined Training competitions.  As a result, an extra judge needed to be organised at late notice.  However, everything went smoothly but the days were longer.  In 2019, the under 10 and under 12 competitions will be regulated and members will have to qualify at their Area Qualifiers.  The details of these changes can be found in the Dressage and Combined Training Rule Book or in the presentation below. 

Dressage and Combined Training Presentation


Mr. Richard Kehoe, Area 2 Eventing Committee representative provided a report on Eventing for 2018, on behalf of Dr. Marina Brennan who was unable to attend.  Richard thanked Connolly’s RED Mills for their continued support of the Eventing Championships.  Despite the challenging ground conditions during 2018, the championships were a success.  The Hunter Trial Championships took place in September and the feedback was extremely positive.  Plans are well underway for 2019.  The 2019 Hunter Trial Championships will be held in the Kennels, Moorefield, Co. Wexford once again on Saturday 27th April.  The provisional dates for the One Day Eventing qualifiers are available on the IPC website.  A number of qualifiers must be confirmed due to potential clashes with dates and locations.  These will be clarified and finalised over the coming weeks and the details will be published on the IPC website.

Mounted Games

Mrs. Eilidh Hyland, Secretary of the Mounted Games Committee addressed delegates and reported on the progress of Mounted Games during 2018.  The Festival Championships were extremely successful with a significant up take for the lead rein competition.  This resulted in long days for the organisers and volunteers.  However, they were very pleased by the interest.  She thanked both Syl Ryan and Kate Harvey for their co-operation and assistance in ensuring that competitors could compete across a number of disciplines.  The RDS Mounted Games competition was won by Laois Hunt Branch and was as successful as previous years with good attendances watching the finals.  Similarly, the Autumn International proved to be very successful despite the challenging weather conditions.  Competitors travelled from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to compete.  Again, numbers competing were extremely positive at under 10 and junior level.  Numbers at senior level have decreased and this is an item for monitoring into the future.  The Mounted Games Committee are considering re-arranging the days of the Mounted Games competitions at the Festival. This subject was raised at the Mounted Games Open Meeting at the end of 2018.  The proposal at the moment would be to have Under 10 Games on Thursday, Senior B Games on Friday and Junior Games on Saturday.  The committee welcome all feedback on this proposal.

Show Jumping

Mr. Syl Ryan, Chairman of Show Jumping gave a report on the Festival 2018.  It was a great success even under the ground conditions which curtailed the use of grass arenas, because the ground was so very hard due to the drought.  Syl thanked both TRI Equestrian and Mackey for the their continued support of the Irish Pony Club Championships.  He explained the new 2019 Pilot Rule for Mixed Teams at the Festival in the Alice Mernagh, Robbie Bailey and John Leadingham Competitions.   The details of which can be found in the 2019 Show Jumping Rule Book on the Downloads page of the IPC website.  The Classic was a great success and well attended at Coilog Equestrian Centre.  The McKee Barracks Bursary was a great success in 2018, and Elisa O’Connor, Sligo Hunt Branch and Jack Ryan, Kilkenny Hunt Branch will be attending the bursary in February 2019.


Mr. John Flood also provided a short round up on both the Minimus and Tetrathlon Championships for 2018.  Feedback was largely positive from both events.  He congratulated both the Senior Girls team from Waterford Hunt Branch who won the UK Tetrathlon Championships and the Senior Boys team who won at the US International Exchange in America.  In 2019, both championships will be moving to new venues.  The Tetrathlon Championships will be held in Tattersalls over two days.  John asked delegates to be aware that the second and final day of the Tetrathlon Championships will be very long as a result.  Final contract negotiations are ongoing with a venue for the Minimus Championships.  The details of which will be published as soon as everything is confirmed.  In 2019, the cross-country courses for both Minimus and Tetrathlon will return back to basics.  Nominations are now open for the long list for the Irish Minimus and Junior Tetrathlon Squads.  Signed nomination forms must be submitted to the IPC office.  Finally, John encouraged all members of the IPC to advertise the Irish Pony Club Black Tie Ball.  This event is open to all members, parents, friends and officials of the IPC.  All disciplines are encouraged to gather a table together.  A great nights entertainment is planned.

Lady Carew gave a closing address thanking the speakers, the office, Barbara Micks, Charles Cooper for acting as MC, the DC’s and all of those who gave up their day to attend. 

(A report from the Branch Officials Training Day will follow.)

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