Friday, August 24, 2012

Irish Paralympic Team's Journey to London

James Dwyer and Orlando appear on a poster outside
the Dublin Airport

The Team Ireland contingent of Blue Hill has had a comfortable, if not relaxing, last week of training in County Wicklow before the start of the Paralympic Games. After flying out of JFK Airport on August 14, Orlando (Ben) and his groom Jessica Brumfield made the journey from Liege, Belgium through England and into Ireland. As always, thank you to Mersant International and James Luck from LG Bloodstock for taking care of Ben's shipping arrangements in the States and overseas.

The main house at Spruce Lodge
James Dwyer joined Ben and Jess in England for the ferry ride to Ireland. There they settled into the beautiful Spruce Lodge training facility in County Wicklow, about an hour and a half outside of Dublin. Owned by Joan Keough, Spruce Lodge boasts a modern twenty stall barn with turnout, three dressage arenas, and spacious outdoor and indoor arenas with excellent footing. Jess, Jessica, and James happily stayed in one of the lovely on-site guest cottages. The Irish team is very thankful to the owners for inviting the Irish Team to hold their final training camp at such a fantastic facility.

Spruce Lodge rhododendrons

 Jessica Ransehousen flew into Dublin on August 18, arriving in Dublin at three in the morning. James's sister and brother in law greeted her at the airport. Jessica was very excited to see the Paralympic banner featuring James and Ben on the streets of Dublin. There was no rest for the weary, with a scheduled early morning jog for the Team horses and an examination by Pat, the Irish Team veterinarian. All of the horses passed with flying colors and the final team is set.

Eilish Byrne/Youri (Grade II)
James Dwyer/Orlando (Grade IV)
Helen Kearney/Mr. Cool (Grade IA)
Gerry Savage/Blues Tip Top Too (Grade IA)
Rosemary Gaffney/Aldham Mill Dubloon (Grade IV)

One of the Spruce Lodge dressage arenas
James has been having excellent rides on Ben and enjoying the beautiful Irish weather, although the indoor arena has been quite useful for the occasional downpour. 

On the penultimate day of camp the riders participated in a relaxed show with a few invited spectators. James rode the team test and Jessica was very pleased with his ride. That night the Irish Team held a special catered dinner with the Irish Equestrian Federation and Paralympic Ireland. Team members and Paralympic hopefuls heard a motivational speaker to prepare them for London and beyond.

Irish Chef d'Equipe, Coach, Riders, and Grooms

Team horses and grooms left Spruce Lodge on the 23rd in the Irish lorry to the ferry. They will rest at Albee's in Lambourn, UK where they can go on the walker before the move into Greenwich Park on the 24th. Riders and coaches flew directly to London where they received their accreditation and (hopefully!) had a restful first night in Athlete Village. Jessica is staying with James's brother in a very nice apartment near the Park where they will be joined by other members of James's family. 
Opening ceremonies for the Games is August 29.


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