‘We’re always open for the craic’: Ireland kick-starts its campaign with solid first test in Herning

  • Rosemark Gaffney pulled off a solid test in the grade IV class to get Ireland’s team campaign off to a great start in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results.

    Riding Chantal, a beautiful 13-year-old dark bay mare (Christ 3 x Del Piero), the pair showed expressive trot work, their highlight being their extended trot, and smooth shoulder-ins, where Rosemary allowed the mare time to establish the right position. Their solid performance, clearly based on a super partnership, earned them 67.98%.

    “She was very good and tried really hard – her trot work was very powerful and she was with me and in front of my legs, so I was very pleased,” said Rosemary. “This is only her third international, so it’s a big ask of her. There are one or two areas which need improving, but we have time to do that before the next big competition.”

    Rosemary was classified as a grade IV rider after an accident in 2007, which left her with a shattered knee and broken tibia and fibula. After many operations and months of rehab later, she returned to competition in 2009 and made a successful entry in to the world of para dressage, competing at two European championships.

    In 2014, disaster struck again, and she suffered an equally awful accident, falling from a spooking horse. Although she landed on her feet, all the pressure went down her good leg, and she suffered 40 breaks from hip to ankle. Doctors said the bones were akin to a shattered windscreen. After six operations she was back in the saddle by April 2015. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Rosemary certainly isn’t letting her past hold her back. At Herning, she is making the most of every minute.

    “You know what they say about Ireland?” she grinned. “They’re always open for the craic. We’ve had great fun and everyone is really gelling together as a team.

    “Para gold is our aim at Paris next year. I don’t think it’s going to happen here, but hopefully it will happen next year. It means the world to be here – at my age [64], it’s a real achievement. I don’t have that many more Paralympics to go to, so it would be super to get to Paris.”

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