A number of local breeders were honoured at the annual Irish Draught Horse Breeders' Association awards night, which this year took place in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone on Saturday last.
Hosted by the Westmeath/Offaly branch of the Irish Draught Horse Breeders' Association (IDHBA), which aims to promote, preserve and and endeavour to improve all that is best in the breeding, rearing and sale of Irish Draught Horses, the event saw 140 members in attendance.
The Mannion family in Doon, who operate the Windgap Stud, took the Home of the Home-Bred Stallions branch award for their home-bred Irish draughts.
John Bracken from Ballycumber won the Irish Draught Mare of the Year Award for Lady Hattie, a seven year-old mare purchased in 2017. His award was accepted on the night by Joanne Maguire.
Clara native Anne Rabbitte won the Branch Breeder's Award. Despite having only been involved in breeding since 2009, Anne has won three All-Ireland titles for her work, including a prestigious award at the RDS Dublin Horse Show.
Joe Rohan from Ballinahown received the IDHBA branch award for his lifelong support for the Irish Draught Breed. Joe has had a long and successful association with the Irish Draught Horse from working on the family farm to purchasing in 1973 his first Irish Draught foal who he named Kiltowra Glee. She was by Windgap Hero and was out of the Knocknagow mare called Blazer Girl, who in her own right was an outstanding broodmare and her most renowned progeny was one of the best known Irish Draught mares, Roma Blue Wind. Roma Blue Wind who was by King Henry became a superb foundation mare in her own right.
Joe has continued to breed successfully and continues to enjoy hunting his homebred Irish Draught Horses with the local South Westmeath hunt including following one of his current mares Kiltowra Jenny on the hunting field with his grandneice Kate Rohan on board.
Joe is also a driving enthusiast and can be regularly seem driving his Irish Draught mare under trap leisurely around the roads in Ballinahown. He is a local mine of information on the history of the breed and is regularly consulted by local breeders on facts and history of the Irish Draught Horse.
Pairic McNeill from Moate was recognised for his Outstanding Service to the IDHBA due to his time and dedication to the development of the organisation and the promotion of the Irish Draught Horse. Pairic has assisted with the running of local and national shows and has taken on the role of MC for many of them, making him recognisable across the association.
Gillian Kinahan, chairperson of the Westmeath/Offaly branch said the night was a success.
"The night was a resounding success and it ran very smoothly. Many local people received awards and it's great to recognise the work that they all do."