Cahir's first Horse Carriage Driving Trials took place over the weekend of June the 18th and 19th. Organised by Horse Sport Ireland's carriage driving section, the town experienced a completely new form of horse-sport. Saturday saw the two-day event's first two phases take place on the "Inch Field" against the backdrop of Cahir's impressive Norman castle.
Dressage and Cones driving competitions entertained and amazed fans of the sport as well as unsuspecting locals and tourists.
A spectacular entrance to the Inch field was guaranteed as the only access is through a crossing of the River Suir. All 24 competitors made their way safely across this first 'obstacle', while hundreds of interested spectators watched the splashing from the nearby wooden foot bridge.
After the Novice classes some of the more experienced drivers—from as far afield as Derry—provided a stunning spectacle of horsemanship and control over up to four horses from the seat of their carriage.
On Sunday at noon the first of the competitors set off from their base at the Cork Marts premises and tackled an 18 km marathon course. The final 7 km were made especially challenging by the five specially constructed obstacles to test the skill, stamina and bravery of horses and drivers.
Two intricate water obstacles at Kedrah Castle proved to separate the 'men' and 'women' from the 'boys' and 'girls'.
The fastest driver and groom combination through each obstacle was awarded the least penalty score. In some of the sponsored obstacles competitors were able to collect feed vouchers and other prizes for their excellent times achieved.
The five obstacles proved a focus point of attention for the hundreds of spectators who gathered at Kedrah and at the Inch field, where the fifth and final obstacle was situated. This tight labyrinth—the BMW triangles—sponsored by Morrison Motors BMW, Cahir, caused lots of problems for some competitors! The fact that a brand new BMW X3 formed the centrepiece added to the challenge.
The town of Cahir really pulled off a fantastic community effort (over 35 volunteers helped out) and the local organising committee deserved all the credit they received from the townspeople and guests who had travelled from all parts of Ireland to see this spectacular event. It was a long time since local businesses had sold out all stock in a day!
If the support of the town and County Council can be secured again in 2012, an even bigger event will be staged at this fantastic venue next year.
Folke Rohrssen, HSI-CDS
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