The Irish Donkey Society (IDS) will stage a spectacular display of donkeys and donkey farming equipment and carriages at work and at play in Ring 1 of the RDS showgrounds on the final day of the Dublin Horse Show on Sunday 24th July from 3.40pm to 4.10pm this year.
The RDS Horse Show is being held 2 weeks earlier than normal this year because of the Olympics in Rio, Brazil in August. The parade of donkey carriages will be in front of the President of Ireland and his special guests.
Members of the Irish Donkey Society (IDS) plus members of the Donkey Breed Society of Northern Ireland and staff of the Donkey Sanctuary from Liscarroll, Mallow, Co Cork will thrill and delight a large crowd of 1,500 on-lookers with an exhibition of 17 displays of donkeys and mules, on lead rein, being ridden and with various farming equipment and donkey-drawn carriages showing how this loveable and sociable animal used to be the poor man’s horse in years gone by. This exhibition takes place during the main show-jumping event of the day which takes place in the main arena – the €160,000 Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland – international competition No.14 – from 3.00pm to 5.20pm. Before the Grand Prix, at 2.20pm in the main arena, 5 donkey drawn carriages will parade before the President of Ireland and his special guests.
This is the 5th year of this charming exhibition at the RDS – first shown in 2012. Donkey Sanctuary Head of Operations Noel Carton, Senior Donkey Welfare Adviser Joe Collins, Donkey Welfare Adviser’s Cathy Griffin and Jane Bruce and The Donkey Sanctuary’s longest standing member of staff and donkey and mule enthusiast Eugene Butler will proudly attend the event. Eugene and Cathy will lead mules Kendon and Bohea Lad around the arena between the times of 3.40pm and 4.10pm, it is a display not to be missed! Both mules were rescued by The Donkey Sanctuary and offered a lifetime of security and protection.
The Reverend Alastair Graham, Chairman of the IDS and a Council Member of the RDS, along with James Wyse, PRO of the IDS and commentator of this exhibition, and Amanda Wallace, Chief Steward of the display, will ensure another top class demonstration of donkey ability and charm which will win the hearts and minds of 1,500 on-lookers.
The Donkey, along with the Leprechaun, the Harp, the Shamrock and the Irish Wolfhound are reminders of ‘Auld Ireland’ – the way farming used to be, before mechanisation and the tractor took over after the last world war. Their only use today is for social and pleasure reasons and as they can live to be 40 years, their numbers are in very serious decline.
The IDS mission is to show what this wonderful animal can do if you put some time into its training, just like hundreds of thousands of people do with their ponies and horses – they too don’t do any farm work anymore either but are kept in very large numbers in Ireland.
In 2015 our special guest was Greg Broderick who had ridden ‘Going Global’ as part of the winning Irish team for the Aga Khan Trophy on the Friday of the show. Greg will be Ireland’s only show-jumping representative with ‘Going Global’ at this year’s Rio Olympics.
The role of the ‘Special Guest’ is to wave a white handkerchief and get all 1,500 on-lookers to wave their handkerchiefs, hats or scarves for 30 seconds to support the honour and dignity of this beautiful animal, in danger of extinction in Ireland while riding around Ring 1 in the Wallace family Norfolk Trap Inside Car with Robert Wallace on the Reins.
Cian O’Connor was our first special guest in 2012 showing off his London Olympic bronze medal. This is a very good ‘Omen’ for Greg Broderick, to bring back to Ireland an Olympic medal we hope. Being associated with the Irish donkey is a ‘lucky charm’!
All our exhibitors are very proud of their achievements in helping to improve the image of the donkey to the public, that these are intelligent and versatile creatures, as good as any pony or horse.