Many thanks to Sheila Fuller for submitting this:
Leinster TREC POR at Coolmine EC, Saggart, Co Dublin.
Sunday, 26th March, 2017.
The beautiful Dublin Mountains were the chosen destination for Leinster TREC’s first POR (Orienteering) competition of the year. Coolmine Equestrian Centre were the host venue and both organisers and riders are very grateful to the owners for the generous use of their spacious & modern facilities.
Blue skies and warm sunshine throughout the day were a wonderful bonus and allowed everyone to make the most of their time out on the various routes, whether as rider or steward, and enjoy the wide vistas and clear views across the city of Dublin to the sea on one side or to snow-capped Mount Kippure in Wicklow on the other.
The Level 3 and 2 riders were routed early on into the local forestry, where they had the challenge of fast tracks alternating with small footpaths through the trees, making a good challenge to calculate correct speeds for those sections between checkpoints.
A short stretch along the road then led to a second forest section for Levels 2 and 3, with a thrilling fast stretch over 1 km on a forest track, for any Level 2 riders who wished to enjoy an opportunity for a good pace. Level 3 riders were more challenged here, however, their route requiring a considerable degree of accuracy in measurement to correctly find an off-road footpath joining upper and lower tracks through the forest. Good map reading was rewarded when they reached the next track and could really up the pace and enjoy a fast speed along that section.
Arriving at the next checkpoint, highest point on the route, riders could rest their horses, check their maps and enjoy the most wonderful views across Counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow, in the warmest of Spring sunshine. After this checkpoint, the Level 2 riders were gradually returned to the home venue by quiet country roads. For the Level 3 riders, however, maps were sealed and the challenge of Bearings started here! Across the farmland, through drains and over banks, true accuracy was required to pinpoint the right way to go, time penalties ticking up on the clock for the unwary.
Finally arriving at the next checkpoint, maps were opened again with relief, only for riders to be handed a set of Grid References to complete the route back to the venue. The pillared gates of Coolmine EC were finally arrived at thankfully and horses and riders could relax and enjoy their achievement.
For the Level 1 riders, quiet country lanes and stretches of forestry tracks were the planned route to be ridden, with reassuring checkpoints at intervals for the less experienced riders to confirm their mapreading skills. The slower speeds given for this level really allowed riders to look around and enjoy the scenery, not just have their eyes on their map, as the route gradually rose higher up and the distant views emerged.
And that is what TREC is about… not just the skills of mapreading, or partnership between horse and rider, but also about enjoying all that is best and most beautiful about Ireland and its unique scenery.