PARKGATE equestrian Georgia Stubington has been giving an insight into her fascinating life in horse sport.
As part of a series of features on committee members by the Eventing Ireland organisation, Georgia (above) told about her early years in equestrianism and how she and her family set up a famous event close to her home at Loughanmore.
Georgia’s mother Patricia MacKean has already starred in the Antrim Guardian, telling her life story in a fascinating feature.
At 18, she attended a wedding in Scotland and met her future husband, George MacKean.
His parents had bought Loughanmore House on the outskirts of Antrim in 1920 and the estate and farm had been due to be inherited by his older brother, Muir.
However, he was tragically killed in the war and George, who had also been a regular soldier, was next in line.
Loughanmore was built in the late 1700s for Charles Adair and was enlarged and castellated in 1880.
The entrance was dominated by a remarkable five-storey porch-tower with a spire, rising high above the rest of the house.
A lower tower, also with a spire, stood at the other end of the house.
Victorian additions included a chapel, stables and outbuildings.
General William Adair sold the house to Charles MacKean in 1920.
Mrs MacKean said that Loughanmore was an idyllic place for their five children to grow up, but with George’s passing she had to downsize and the family moved to one of the farms that George had bought and rented out.
Mrs MacKean now lives in the grounds of the farm and can still see Loughanmore from a panoramic window.
Georgia lives in the main farmhouse.
The present owner is involved in racing - opening the estate for point to point meetings and cross-country events - and Patricia’s own family still have an important equine interest just outside the gates of the estate - Sweet Wall Stud.
George’s father Charles owned and bred racehorses, but after the war, George decided to give up ownership and it wasn't until 1985 the family got back into thoroughbred breeding again.
Perhaps the most famous product of this line was Florida Pearl, who retired a Euro millionaire in winnings and the first horse to win four Hennessey Gold Cups at Leopardstown.
Georgia helped revive the family tradition and her daughter Lucca has now taken on the mantle as the fourth generation of the family making their name in the horse world, through eventing and dressage, with both mother and daughter enjoying huge success nationally and internationally.
There is also a successful livery yard where competition and leisure riders keep their horses.
Telling her own story, Georgia explained: “I first evented in 1976 but had been going to events with my mother Patricia MacKean for some years.” she said.
“I was lucky to be selected for the Junior team in ‘77, ‘78 and ‘79 winning medals each year including team gold in ‘77.
“After juniors I thought I was the bee’s knees and it would only be a matter of time before the Senior team would be calling but of course I know now how little I knew then and that thought has always been behind my support of my daughter Lucca and her equine education.
“However, I did compete at the ‘85 European Championships at Burghley and the ‘86 World Championships at Gawler in Australia on the TB mare Kells.
“I count the Gawler trip as one of the greatest experiences of my life - imagine a three day event that lasts two months!
“Both my representative experiences were on mares, Juniper Green and Kells in whose name a trophy is awarded for best mare at the EINR ball every year. Another wonderful horse I rode was (the world famous racehorse and stud) Sadler’s Wells, bought to be a hunter, but no one told him that and I had the most amazing ride round Burghley on him - such a thrill.
“I always had a desire to give something back to the sport I so enjoyed, so my mother and I decided to run a Three Day Event at Loughanmore.
“It ran from 1990 to 1993 culminating in hosting the Junior European Championships, another great source of satisfaction.
“We started in the days of penalty zones and I thank the stars those have passed into history.
“Mowing weird-shaped lines round fences and stringing the course (11km by hand, posts hammered into the ground with a lump hammer) are particular jobs I remember with dread.
“But it was good way to loose weight!
“I’ve done stints as Chairman of the Northern Region and of Eventing Ireland, during which time we developed the existing website and database and started working with EquiRatings to establish the ERQI system.
“I’m an EI Steward and TA and an FEI steward as well as groom and dogsbody for Lucca.
“The Steward/TA role is hugely rewarding.
“We have a small team in EINR and everyone helps everyone to get the job done and provide safe and fair sport for all competitors, and the craic is mighty.”
Georgia added: “What you don’t know about me is I’m a keen choral singer and perform with the Saint George’s Singers in Belfast - when we are not stopped by COVID!.
“I also love making things, cooking, crochet (sooo many baby blankets!) and up-cycling furniture.
“I love supporting Lucca in her equestrian career, nothing is more fun that struggling with a stud that won’t go in, on a horse that won’t stand in the rain at Tyrella in March.
“Seriously, she has won a National Championship on a horse we chose together as a foal and she has produced to win a CCI2*L abroad.
“She works fantastically hard, riding from as soon as it’s light enough, until everything has been exercised, schooled, lunged or whatever has been needed.
“Passing her Pony Club A this year was a particular achievement, I passed it too but I didn’t get Honours in the Horsemastership exam. I don’t think they had that in my day!
“I am also extremely proud of my elder daughter, Claudia, who has recently started working as an Educational Psychologist for Hampshire County Council.
“Being dyslexic herself has made the journey a struggle at times but no better person to understand the issues that exist in young people’s lives.
“I’m looking forward to the season getting underway and hope we won’t be held up by Covid restrictions for too long.”