Lily Tunney: a rising star of pony show jumping
IN Northern Ireland there is a wealth of equestrian talent, in terms of horses and ponies, as well as riders, and across the various equine disciplines. While talented riders come from many age groups, it is very encouraging to see the number of dedicated young riders, who are learning their craft and consistently rising to the top. The future looks very exciting!
One of those talented equine athletes is Lily Tunney of Tempo, Co. Fermanagh, where she lives with her father, Gabriel; mom, Madeleine and her sister, Elsie, who is nine years old. Gabriel’s name may be familiar to many, as he is a well-known show jumper and highly respected instructor, while Madeleine also has a background in show jumping, but has now taken on the valuable role of groom. for his daughters. Elsie is following in her big sister’s footsteps – she was the 2019 National Under-8 Champion and now competes in the Under-10s on Lily’s “In it to win it” pony (on which Lily won so much in the less than 10 years). Another potential star from the future!
Lily grew up with horses and ponies. As a toddler she had a Shetland pony called “George”, which she loved to be riding on. By the age of five, she had an accomplished 128-year-old pony called ‘Sharons Choice’, on which she began her show jumping career in the Show Jumping Ireland (SJI) newcomer classes. Today, at just 11 years old, Lily is a rising star in the show jumping world. In no time, Lily has accomplished so much, including finding her first sponsor, Joyce Clarke Estate Agents!
Despite her small build and youth, it’s pretty amazing to see Lily ride. She has skills beyond her years, riding with such maturity and balance, placing her ponies in the âsweet spotâ at every close, with a consistency that many pros would seek. Against the clock, she looks just as poised, managing to perform a quick round without a kick or flap being visible. She could be the future Rachel Blackmore of show jumping, showing bravery and strength, mixed with razor-sharp calculated precision.
Lily attends St. Mary’s Elementary School in Tempo and has represented the school in show jumping. Indeed, she was part of the winning team of the Primary section in inter-school show jumping organized in Ecclesville in 2019. On this occasion, she also won second place in the individual event and third d ‘a test of speed. bad for a day’s work!
Its new sponsor, Joyce Clarke Estate Agents, is led by popular Libby Clarke, who has her own fame in the farming world, on the TV show Rare Breeds.
âWe were eager to support young talent. Someone who embodies our own values, such as integrity, work ethic and effort
for the results. Lily is that person, âLibby said.
Lily currently has four ponies – one 128cm called “Scarletts Cromwell”; a 138 cm called ‘Brackla Dancer’; a 138cm called ‘Tempo Abbey’ and a 148cm called ‘Simon Said’. She has just started her recorded 2021 show jumping season, which she started with second place on “Scarletts Cromwell” at the Meadows Ulster Region League, which she quickly followed with a win at Cavan in the class. 128 cm 1 m.
Meanwhile, in Cavan, ‘Brackla Dancer’ had a double clear in his first round of 138cm to 1.10m and ‘Simon Said’ was a double clear in the first round from 148 to 1. , 10m from Lily on him. Lily placed third with both
those ponies that day.
For most of us, successfully keeping a horse or pony in shape, alongside the demands of work or school, is difficult, so how does Lily juggle them while still continuing to improve by competition and get sponsorship?
Horse Week decided to find out more …
In which classes are you currently competing with Show Jumping Ireland?
‘Scarletts Cromwell’ is 128cm tall and competes in 1m events; ‘Brackla Dancer’ is 138cm tall and competes in 1.10m events and is ready to move up to Grand Prix level this year. ‘Simon Said’ is a new 148cm pony. I’ve had some great 1m classes on him and just started the 1.10m classes. I hope to finish with a few 4 foot lessons on him later in the year. ‘Tempo Abbey’ is only five years old and jumps 80cm in the 138cm events to bring it up.
What is your weekly riding routine?
When I was riding home I would walk and trot shallow curls and work on poles on the ground. Every day I work on my position to constantly improve myself. My mom and dad are amazing and help me a lot on this. We could work on the grids and the rebounds later in the week. We have quiet days.
What do you think of your new godmother, Joyce Clarke?
It’s very exciting. I love all of my new clothes and numnahs. They have a great look!
What was your favorite show jumping course?
I was on my favorite and original ‘Cromwell’ pony. I was riding Home Pony International in Cavan in 2020 and it was huge (1.05m). I just saw great distances to the fences and had such a smooth ride.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was to ride in the Ulster Team in Cavan in 2020. I had never jumped so high (1.05m)! It was also a team competition, which was an added challenge for me as I didn’t want to let my teammates down.
Last year Lily suffered a
broken shoulder and concussion but was back
by jumping after only six weeks!
How did you stay so courageous and positive?
I just got started. I missed horseback riding. I accept that this
is part of horse riding
and, although I had a few rough nights with my shoulder, it started to heal quickly.
To keep your ponies fit, well prepared, and compete with them the way you do, you clearly have a great work ethic. Tell us about it?
I want my ponies to look good for the show. I don’t mind cleaning the upholstery and the ponies. I don’t mind cleaning either. This is all part of the care of the horse.
Who is your horse hero?
Locally, Niamh McEvoy. She is a great rider with an incredible position.
I also like international riders, Christian Ahlmann and Marcus Ehning.
If you could have a pony or a horse which one would you choose?
Niamh McEvoy’s ‘Fireman’ or ‘Dominator 2000z’ pony, who has so much stature and is very honest.
What is your favorite food?
It’s easy. My mother cooks at home. She cooks the best food and is very organized and helps me put together outfits for the shows.
What’s your favorite quote?
My father’s saying is âif at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again! ”
What are your best results?
I had my best year in 2019, when I was Ulster Region Under-10 Champion, All-Ireland National Reserve Under-10 Champion and a member of the Irish squad , with Harry Rush, Adam Adair and Juliette McIntosh – we won the Under 10 Championship. 10 competitions at Home Pony International in Cavan. 2020 has been a strange year with Covid and I broke my shoulder, but managed to produce good results over two days at Cavan HPI 2020 and secure a place in the Ulster squad. With my teammates, Charlotte McCracken, Jamie Clarke, Robert Russell and Peter Morton, we won the silver medal!
Horse Week wishes Lily every success for the coming season.
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