Monday 8 August 2011

RDS Round-Up

Royal Dublin Horse Show (RDS)
The highlight for most equine-minded people in Ireland is the RDS in August every year. It is a fantastic amalgamation of many equine disciplines in one place with competitions running from Wednesday to Sunday mostly in Showing and Show Jumping classes - including many international classes the highlights for most being the Aga Kahn (Nations Cup on the Friday), the Puissance (on the Saturday) and the Grand Prix (on the Sunday). Although there is always the fantastically entertaining team chase (always on the sunday for which teams have to qualify), dressage classes, racehorse to riding horse classes and the great pony club games culminations - now those are displays of horsemanship and always 100% entertaining!!
This year's special guests were the Ukranian Cosacks (spelling?!) who entertained the masses with multiple showcases and displays throughought each day. I saw them on the saturday in the main arena as it spilled down with rain and was completely awestruck at the speed and skill with which they work!
I mustn't forget the tack stands! There are loads of them and usually plenty bargains to be found, although myself and a few others that i spoke to did think the bargains in themselves were fairly scarce on the ground this year, but i suppose the economic troubles facing the world at the moment have a knock on effect and after all everyone does have to make a living!

So now that we have some background info for any readers who are not familiar with the RDS, I flew back to Ireland on Thursday evening to take in this wonderful event. Typically i attend the show with a friend from uni on the Friday and again on Saturday, however this year she couldn't make the Friday due to a family wedding, but not wating to miss the Aga Kahn i decided to go on my tod for the first day and get my shopping done then aswell - to save her having to traipse around the tack stands with me. As although she is "horsey" she no longer owns one and so the excitement and thrill i get out of nosying through all the stands is not always shared by those who have no beastie to make such purchases for! I also managed to squeeze in a very enjoyable meet and greet with a bunch of lovely people - you know who you are and it was great to be able to put names to faces!
The Aga Kahn as always was thrilling to watch and the Irish team did really well to finish second to Britain after a fantastic jump off. I have always had a huge horse-crush on Nick Skelton's horses and whatever my feelings used to be for the gorgeous grey Russel and the brilliant bay Arco - Carlo blows them out of the water in my book. He always just looks like such a happy horse when he is jumping a round, you can tell he 100% loves what he is doing and is amazing at it! While i have serious love for carlo, afraid Nick'll have to settle for my admiration of his horses as Billy Towmey and Shane Breen are still my two favourite riders to watch. Love Billiy's top two horses Je T'aime Flmaenco and the fiery chestnut mare Tinka's Serenade. And as for Shane I go weak at the knees for his young stallion Baloon - swoon! I was overjoyed when i got to see that partnership go in the Dublin Stakes on Saturday, unfortunately for them they didn't go clear, but seeing Balloon in the flesh totally made my weekend!

I managed to get the bones of my shopping done on the friday, I went with the intention of being completely selfish this year and clothing myself was the aim of this year's shopping. I wasn't after much really, just some polo shirts for schooling work and if i could find nice jodhs in interesting colour combinationss i would've picked them up. My shopping included 2 5euro polo shirts from Horseware (at a fiver each i didn't bother to try them on but i'm pretty sure that even though i got the XS ones, they'll still be pretty baggy as they were not fitted shirts) - a grey one with teal writing and a teal one with grey writing - very adventurous of me, i know! ;)
I also got two lovely fitted polo shirts from a new Irish brand launched at the show called Quagga, they have lovely bright colours. I got a t-shirt in red and one in sky blue. They had a lovely grey and purple striped rugby jersey that i was sorely tempted to buy, but i settled for the two polos which i managed to get two for the price of one! Admittedly i think it may have been a mistake by the poor girl who served me's part in returning me my change, so sorry and i hope she didn't get in trouble!
The remainder of my shopping was knick-knacks in the form of fly bonnets for friends at the barn here is bright colours, ;-) as thank you's for having been so good to me and Kika. And a purple fly thing to attach to Kika's headcollar to keep the flies out of her eyes - although looking out the window at the moment she won't be needing it any time soon! Not the big bug-eye mesh netting thing, but the dangly string thing (for lack of better descriptive words from me!), after purchasing it i noticed it was marked cob size and when i went back to the stand to see if i could change it they only had 2 left (also both cob sizes) which in itself was shocking as there had been a load of them there when i bought it! So i decided to chance it and see if it'll fit her, she hasn't the world's largest head (I've had to put extra holes in her noseband so it sits right for her lol) so hopefully it'll fit and the purplification of the ponio can continue slowly and surely! The last things i picked up were multiple pairs of knee high funky socks, teehee. Got one "normal" argyle pair in grey (base colour) with purple and greeny-turquoise diamonds then three pairs of "funky" ones - a yellow and orange puzzle pieces pair, a black with bright blue dots pair and a red and white striped pair (to be worn when i debut my new red Quagga shirt, if the weather clears up! :p) - those ones remind me of Where's Wally, hahaha!
I did spend a good bit of time looking at the riding vests and drooling over gorgeous saddles - i am still on my saddle kick not having purchased one yet teehee so all are always catching my eye. The Antares ones were just beautiful...some day...who knows i might win the lotto!
I also completely fell in love with the Italian gaiters and zip up jodh boot (have the name saved in my phoen but not on me) - at 110 euros for the boots i declined to purchase them just yet as i don't know what colour saddle i'm going to end up buying and don't want to clash...vain i know, but sure i'm not likely to buy any of these things again till i absolutely have to...So might aswell be as complimentary as i can get them now ;-)

The final highlight of my weekend (besides the show-jumping classes which goes without saying that those are highlights on their own) was being able to witness a George Morris Masterclass (yes L you read it right, thought of you and your obsession the whole time!). Unfortunately the heavens decided to open and drown us , so i missed the last fifteen minutes of the hour long display. But what i did see was thoroughly worth it! There were three riders of different levels on horses of different levels; Eddie Moloney who has been having a great year on the Irish Grand Prix circuit, Kelly Allen previous European Champion gold medalist in ponies and now succesfully competing in young rider classes and a guy who i hadn't previously heard of called Michael White who is based in the UK and having good success over there.
The first thing George did was correct their positions, particularly the two younger riders he told them to put more of their foot in the stirrups, shorten their reins to keep contact and not let the horses get too overbent (loved this bit as even watching the GP yesterday on the telly so many horses were way too overbent IMO), he said that unfortunately so far as he could tell the above traits had weirdly (to his mind) become popular amongst riders these days.
He got them to trot using only one half of the arena and had them keep their horses along the rail right up against the crowds/stands telling them to keep the horses put to get them used to the crowds and listening to them. When they moved up to trot he got them to go for 6 to 8 strides then go back to walk for 2 to 3 strides then resume trotting and repeat, while changing rein as he rightly pointed out everything we do on one rein has to be repeated on the other so that the horse remains balanced in its work. The first canter work he had them do was to strike off in counter canter and work on circles in counter canter - he said that excercise would check the level of schooling in even the top horses as it is challenging to an imbalanced horse. In the circles he had them work on lengthening the stride between circles and the shortening up for and during the circles mimiccking what horses are asked to do when jumping a course of fences - lengthening and shortening their stride.
He got them to do their initial jumping from trot, he told us that trotting a horse into a fence builds their backs, necks and maintains the control and makes sure they are listening to the rider. He then moved up to a vertical and an oxer, getting them to jump them on a figure of eight type pattern from canter - they would jump the vertical ride past the oxer, turn back on them selves and come back over the oxer going passed the vertical on the return then turning around on themselves again and back over the vertical to repeat the exercise. He then raised the poles and had them jump the two fences on a six stride related distance encouraging the riders to let the horses go into the bottom of the fences and not interfere with them so much on the appraoch. There was more after this as they moved to another fence jumping it on a circle i think, but at this stage i had to leave as the rain was just awful...
I took so much from the masterclass it really was thoroughly informative, so much of what he said would be considered basic but as in anything if you don't get the basics right the rest won't function as well. It was great to watch/listen and learn from one of the greats of the equine world, but not only that but to hear him say many of the things you agree with try to work on yourself. Made me think that perhaps i'm not as far off base as i think...

PS sorry i got no photos, camera i brought's zoom decided to stop working - woopsy, should really have tried that out before i went huh?!

1 comment:

  1. ooo I am jealous! Did you see Lauren Hough and Quick Study ride? I heard they won, she's my trainer's niece :D


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