A Clonmel woman who suffered two major leg injuries in riding accidents is now back competing at the highest level - and hopes to represent Ireland at the Paralympics in Rio je Janeiro next year.
Rosemary Gaffney, now equine course director in Kildalton College in Piltown, has overcome her shattering setbacks to become one of the top international para riders in the country.
Rosemary competed at a high level in dressage against able-bodied riders for many years before a riding accident in 2007 shattered her left knee and leg.
For 12 months she was unable to ride, but once back in the saddle in 2009, she returned to her winning ways and landed the National Medium Championship. However, at times she did struggle, and so was invited to put herself forward for classification with Para Equestrian Ireland. She was classified as a Grade IV.
To comply with the strict rules, Rosemary was classified by a specialist physio in Ireland before going through the same procedure in England, in order for her to compete internationally. Riders are graded according to their disability, with Grade 1a riders being the most disabled.
In January 2014, Rosemary had another fall and shattered her right knee and leg - this time in over 40 places. For another 12 months she was not able to ride, being bed-bound for many months but in 2015 she started competing internationally again, reclassified as a Grade 3
Now competing at Grade 3 level with her stunning stallion Aldham Mill Dubloon, she is aiming to gain a place at next year’s Paralympics in Rio, where hopefully Ireland will be represented by a full team
Rosemary worked in England for many years before returning home to set up her own yard and lectured at the University of
Limerick, and later took up the post as equine course director in Kildalton College.
With such experience behind her, Rosemary was instrumental in setting up the initial one-year course in horse breeding and training with 13 students. That was in 1998, and now, 17 years on, this course, the Teagasc Advanced Certificate in Breeding & Training, now runs over two years and caters for some 80+ students at a time
On top of that expertise, Rosemary is a qualified British Horse Society Instructor (BHSI), Horse Sport Ireland Level 3 Coach and Trainer and an examiner for the BHS and the Irish Pony Club.
Rosemary is highly competitive and since making the switch to Para Equestrian Ireland has proven to be a highly valued member of the squad..
Eerlier this month Rosemary competed in Bishop Burton in England at a 3* and was 2nd on the first day and 5th on the second and won the music with a superb personal best score of 74..55%.
Delighted with this score, she hopes it bodes well for the Europeans in September in France and Rio in 2016.