The RDS Horse Show 2013

Aug 10, 2013 by

Friend’s daughter entering Ladies Day Competiton

Fillies, frocks, fashion and fast food. It can only be the RDS Dublin Horse Show once again.

Every year the show is held at the beginning of August at the show grounds of the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

It is a major international display of show jumping and showing of every category of Irish Sport Horse. From stallions to mares with foals at foot to show ponies, Connemara ponies, working hunters, cob classes, pony club games and top class international show jumping competitions; it is a feast for the horse lover.

It also is a fantastic display of fashion with Ladies Day usually held on the Thursday of the show. There is also a best-dressed-man competition. There are fashion and craft stalls in the main hall and then lots of equestrian fashion and accessories over at Simmonscourt.

Even if you are not a horse lover there is plenty to keep you amused.

Taking a break while showing

I can stand for hours horse watching. I love to watch their movement, their spirit and their beauty. When man and horse work together in a relationship of trust and understanding it is something to behold.

Horses love to perform. They also love to show off. Watching the stallions stepping out in a class yesterday arching their muscular necks, tossing their heads and their tails, saying “look at me” to the passing mares.

The mares were relaxed while their foals were at foot but if for any reason they lost sight of them, the whinnying started.  The foals, for their part were mad to play and get loose from lead ropes.

The Connemara ponies trotted, cantered and posed in Ring One while bowler-hatted judges conferred, taking into account conformation, gait, and behaviour in the ring as the rider put them through their paces.

View of the main arena from the corporate boxes

The Nation’s Cup (the Aga Khan Cup) is held on the Friday and is a major event in the show jumping calendar with teams from Ireland, Britain, France, Holland, Italy and the USA amongst others competing.

The Puissance is usually held on Saturday. This high jump competition regularly reaches the dizzying height of over two metres.

Andalusian display

There are usually other displays in between. This year some Andalusian horses put through their paces by their handler with only voice control. They danced, swayed, pirouetted and were ridden with no aids.

A show jumping master class by Commandant Gerry Mullins demonstrated how to tackle the S bend on a show jumping track and how to shorten and lengthen strides and change lead according to the fence layout.

Sadly my other passion, food, is badly catered for at the show.  There are the ubiquitous fast food outlets, the restaurant canteen/carvery outlets and The Champagne Bar. The latter serving grossly overpriced, pre-prepared platters of sea food and cheese and cheap, outrageously priced wine (Blossom Hill) and champagne. There was a new addition, the “Fast Food Village” this year. A number of smaller style “artisan” food outlets selling their wares out of mobile units down by the bandstand off paper plates and using plastic cutlery.

It strikes me as a shame not to use the opportunity to showcase Irish food and ingredients at an international event such as this.

The Long Bar

The Long Bar is the place to meet and catch up with old friends. I have fallen out of it many times in the past. The atmosphere is great and the buzz legendary.

Accommodation is plentiful nearby. We have stayed at The Four Seasons numerous times in the past. However, this year they lost our business by not bothering to get back to us when they promised they would. We ended up staying in The Herbert Park Hotel which is not quite in the grounds but almost as close as The Four Seasons. It was fine, although a misunderstanding about breakfast led us to go to Roly’s in Ballsbridge the first morning. (It was very good.)

When you are at the show for a number of days it’s great to stay somewhere you can go back and forwards to easily during the day to change shoes or clothes or to just use the loo. The queues for toilets are legendary in the showgrounds.

I have been going to the Horse Show since I was a child, watching my cousins showjumping in the main arena and as a teenager lusting after Eddie Macken. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Tags: RDS Dublin Horse Show  Ballsbridge  Irish Sport Horse  Ladies Day  Simmonscourt  Connemara ponies  The Four Seasons  The Herbert Park Hotel

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