The FITE World Championships for Senior and Young riders took place in Segovia, Spain from the 1st to 3rd of September 2016. Kirsten McCormack with her horse Strand Hill Batman represented TREC Ireland in the Young Rider section, doing so for the second time after also being selected for the team in Italy, 2014. Kirsten's mother Helen was the Irish Chef d'Equipe with International Judges Adrian Flynn, Mairead Moynihan and Gwen Bastian also representing Ireland at the event. Luckily, TREC GB was able to arrange a space on their lorry for Batman so he travelled in great company and style!
Even with the high temperatures and barren landscape the venue was spectacular, with a number of arenas, cafes and facilities. Riders were able to practice their MA, go for many hacks to familiarise themselves with the maps and with ample wash bays were able to keep horses cool. Kirsten's sister Kayleigh, who is also on the Young Rider Development squad with her pony Caspian, was well familiar with both TREC and Batman and acted as groom, with dad John keeping everybody's spirits up and taking many photos.
Team Ireland was completed by Noreen Hennessy, Amanda Sheridan and Elaine Neary who all came over to support the Irish and see what would be in store at future events.
Batman passed the vetting on Thursday morning with flying colours, and a great low heart rate. The language barrier proved a little confusing at the equipment check when shoes and nails were requested - of course the 'hoof boot' and ' farriers tools' is what was meant! The opening ceremony took place inside the beautiful town of Segovia, due to it being a 10km round trip on horseback, the decision was made not to put Batman through this the night before a World Championship POR!
The POR was tricky and included grid references and very difficult terrain, as well as being incredibly hot. A lengthy thunder storm did cool horses and riders down however, and TREC GB as well as Team McCormack greeted Kirsten and Batman at the finish - some 10km away from the venue. Again, Batman sailed through the vetting and everybody was set for the MA and PTV on Friday morning. Beautifully turned out with a Shamrock adorning his quarters, Batman cantered a full 30 points and achieved a very respectable 13 points for the walk, in a very scary arena (10 judges with parasols, chairs and potted plants) to achieve 43 out of 60 points.
On to the PTV, which was full of jumps, perfectly suited for most Irish horses and riders, but this combination in particular! A group of non Irish Batman fans followed the combination around to watch the jumps, and were astounded at the control exhibited from the Path Crossing to a difficult S-Bend, followed straight by a gallop - some 'wows' of admiration were overheard.
Finishing on a score of 111, her combined score put Kirsten into 16th place in the Young Rider Individual section, a fantastic result for a superb rider and horse, the true definition of what TREC is all about: horse and rider coming together to bring out the best in each other.
Well done Kirsten, you have done yourself, your family, country and organisation extremely proud. We look foward to seeing what you can do on home turf next year!