Shining light Joan Keogh will be forever remembered

  • 18 July 2022, 11:22

Joan Keogh was a shining light within the Irish equestrian community. Over the course of her life she showed vision for the future of the sport, but also great generosity to those around her. Having sadly, passed away peacefully at home on July 6, her legacy will live on for many years to come.

Often described as being ahead of her time, Joan had unrivalled vision and passion. Her focus was often on dressage and coaching but was not limited to these, she nurtured and encouraged anyone who wanted to learn in any equine sphere – she dedicated her life to improving various aspects of the Irish equine industry.

From the days of Spruce Lodge Riding School in Kilternan, Co Dublin to the more recent growth and development of Spruce Lodge Equestrian Training Facility, Ballyrogan Stud, Redcross, Co Wicklow, Joan assisted countless riders, coaches and anyone with an interest in fulfilling their dreams of working with horses.

She will forever be remembered for her work in bringing dressage onto the national stage in Ireland and forming the Irish Dressage Society, now Dressage Ireland. This momentous step happened in 1989 and, since then, Joan has proudly watched and assisted as Irish dressage has flourished nationally and internationally.

Dressage was one of many passions for Joan. Coaching and the importance of correct coaching was another focus over the years. Joan was one the founding figures of the HSI Coaching Programme, which has since been adopted by several national federations around the world.

Joan Keogh and Professor Pat Wall, former Chairman, Horse Sport Ireland, at the Horse Sport Ireland National Coaching Conference in 2014 at Cavan Equestrian Centre. Picture: Sportsfile

In recent years Spruce Lodge Equestrian Training Facility has been the chosen location to run various Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) Coaching events and courses, including piloting the recently redeveloped Level 1 Coaching course, CPD events, Level 2 Coaching courses, and much more. Joan would often pass by and note her delight at seeing the classroom or arena full of new, up-and-coming coaches eager to learn.

At the 2014 HSI Coaching and Breeding Conference, Joan was presented with the Contribution to Coaching Award. This award noted the role she played with the development of the HSI Coaching Programme, her work as a Coach Developer (formally known as Tutor) and her overall contribution to the industry.

Spruce Lodge Equestrian Training Facility was also used for high performance training for various disciplines in recent years. Joan always took particular interest in young riders coming through the ranks and would always have a word of encouragement to anyone passing by.

Joan forged her own path, endlessly inspiring those around her – her support was not only for high performance, but she was also heavily invested in the development of grassroots.

Over the years she was a great supporter of associations such as the Irish Pony Club and the Association of Irish Riding Clubs, who which she was also a founding member of. Joan received the Lancelot Award in 2013 to mark her contribution to the Irish Sport Horse Industry.

“I would like to extend my sympathies to Joan’s family and to those close to her at this time,” said HSI Chairman Joe Reynolds.

“Joan’s contribution to Irish dressage and the wider equestrian industry was far reaching, she thought a generation ahead. Joan was instrumental in establishing the Irish Dressage Society and devoted considerable time and effort, leading from the front while simultaneously working in background to ensure people of influence recognised the importance of dressage.

“Joan brought top international experts to Ireland to train the trainers while setting benchmarks and providing encouragement for aspiring riders.”

HSI would like to extend sympathies to Joan’s family, her children Brendan, Helen, Deirdre, Declan and Aidan, sister Sheila, brother Vincent and to her grandchildren and extended family and friends.