Ireland is well know through out the world for it's horse racing and showjumping and the biggest day in the showjumping calendar is undoubtedly the Aga Khan in the RDS Horse Show.
Smithfield market is barely two miles away from the RDS but it may as well be on a different planet. Here you will also find a group of keen horse lovers, some would say no less passionate then those in the RDS. On the first Sunday of every month, at the crack of dawn, hundreds of horse enthusiasts convene on Smithfield Horse Fair to buy and sell Horses, Ponys and Donkeys.
While appearing in the Comic Relief programme 'Only Fools on Horses' last year, Diarmuid Gavin came up with the idea for 'Pony Kids' He wanted to bring these two 'Horsey worlds' together. The idea didn't really take off though until Jessica Kuerten, number 3 in the world of international showjumping, agreed to take part and oversee the training of the kids. Diarmuid was delighted to have the world class showjumper who has represented her country at the highest levels many times, including the Irish Aga Khan. To train the team she must fly over and back from Dusseldorf, where she now lives. To help with the rest of the training, Ronan Corrigan, a showjumper and owner of Coolree Stud, was also drafted in. So now, all Diarmuid had to do was find the right kids - first stop, Smithfield market!
Diarmuid began to spread the word about the programme and held an open trial day at Fettercairn Youth Horse Project. It was a long and tough day. Some of the participants were naturals though most found the saddles and stirrups quite difficult to contend with. The level of riding was generally poorer then expected and it was not a good start for the judges - could they really find five riders from this lot who would be good enough to train for the RDS? After much deliberation and heated discussion, Diarmuid, Jessica and Ronan decided on 5 finalists and Diarmuid drove to tell them the good news.
Now that the team had been chosen, the real hard work began. The standard of riding was poor and 10 weeks is a short time. It was going to be an up hill battle all the way. The question is, do Diarmuid and Jessica really know what they are letting themselves in for???