Dublin Horse Show 2013

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The Dublin Horse Show and the Gathering

The Dublin Horse Show is one of the central events of the 2013 Gathering. The Show is Ireland’s largest equestrian event, and one of the largest events held on the island. Strong international connections have been formed over the past 140 years and we are inviting all of our friends from home and abroad to come and celebrate this once in a life time experience of the 2013 Gathering at the RDS Show Grounds.

Dublin Horse show 2013, RDS

The Horse Show is a Dublin institution and runs this year from the 7th to the 11th of August. A celebration of Ireland’s affinity with the horse, the Dublin Horse Show has the best show horses and the best international show jumpers compete for honours. It is one of Ireland’s largest events, a highlight of the summer, each year welcoming tens of thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.


Since it was first held in 1864 the Horse Show has become a Dublin institution. A celebration of Ireland’s affinity with the horse, from the best show horses to the best international show jumpers. It is one of Ireland’s largest events, a highlight of the summer, each year welcoming tens of thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.

Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day

Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show will takes place on Thursday of Show week. There are prizes for best dressed lady, most creative hat, most colourful outfit and best dressed man


The first show was held in 1864 under the auspices of the Society, but organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland.


There were 366 entries in the first Show with a total prize fund of £520.

On the 28, 29 and 30 July 1868 the first show was held and organised by the Royal Dublin Society on the lawns of Leinster House. The Council granted £100 out of the Society’s funds to be awarded in prizes. It started as a show of led-horses and featured ‘leaping’ demonstrations.

The first prize for the Stone Wall competition (6ft) in 1868 was won by Richard Flynn on hunter, Shane Rhue (who sold for £1,000 later that day).

Ass and mule classes were listed at the first show!

In 1869 the first Challenge Cup was presented for the best exhibit in the classes for hunters and young horses likely to make hunters.

In 1870 the Show was named ‘The National Horse Show’, taking place on the 16-19 August. It was combined with the Annual Sheep Show organised by the Society.

1869 was the year ‘horse leaping’ came to prominence. There was the high leap over hurdles trimmed with gorse; the wall jump over a loose stone wall of progressive height not exceeding 6 feet; and the wide leap over 2 ½ ft gorse-filled hurdle with 12 ft of water on the far side.

Dublin Horse Show Rules

The original rules for the leaping competitions were simply ‘the obstacles had to be cleared to the satisfaction of the judges’.

The prizes for the high and wide leaps were £5 for first and £2 for second with £10 and a cup to the winner of the championship and a riding crop and a fiver to the runner up.

In 1881 the Show moved to ‘Ball’s Bridge’, a green-field site. The first continuous ‘leaping’ course was introduced at the Show.

In 1881 the first viewing stand was erected on the site of the present Grand Stand. It held 800 people.

With over 800 entries in the Show in 1895, it was necessary to run the jumping competitors off in pairs – causing difficulties for the judges at the time!

Dublin Horse Show Ladies

No lady was allowed to ride in any jumping competition until 1919.

A novelty class for women was introduced in 1919. In 1920 women were able to compete freely.

Women were permitted to compete in the international competitions from 1954 (an international rule).

In times past the Ladies Hunter Classes for ladies riding side-saddle in traditional costume (veil and habit) were judged on the Thursday of the Show. As a result Thursday became Ladies’ Day.

In 1925 Colonel Zeigler of the Swiss Army first suggested holding an international jumping event. The Aga Khan of the time heard of this proposal and offered a challenge trophy to the winner of the competition.

In 1926 International Competitions were introduced to the show and was the first time the Nations’ Cup for the Aga Khan Challenge trophy was held.

Dublin Horse Show Nations Cup

Up until 1949 the Nations’ Cup teams had to consist of military officers.

Six countries competed in the first international teams competition for the Aga Khan Challenge trophy – Great Britain, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Ireland. The Swiss team won the title on Irish bred horses.

The Swiss team won out the original trophy in 1930. Ireland won the first replacement in 1937 and another in 1979, Britain in 1953 and 1975. The present trophy is the sixth in the series and was presented by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1980.

There was no Nations’ Cup held in 1952 due to the Olympic Games.

Dublin Horse Show Grand Prix

The first Grand Prix (Irish Trophy) held in 1934 was won by Comdt.J.D. (Jed) O’Dwyer, of the Army Equitation school. The Irish Trophy becomes the possession of the rider if it is won three times in succession or four times in all.

The first civilian rider to take part in the Nations’ Cup was Peter Robeson on Craven A. He was also a member of the winning British team that year.

The first timed jumping competition was held in 1938. In 1951 an electric clock was installed and the time factor entered most competitions.

In 1976, after 50 years of international competition, the two grass banks in the Arena were removed so the Arena could be used for other events. The continental band at the western end of the Main Arena was added later.

Shows have been held annually except from 1914-1919 due to WW1 and from 1940 – 1946 due to WW2.

In 2003 the Nations Cup Competition for the Aga Khan Trophy has become part of the new Samsung Super League under the auspices of the Federation Equestre Internationale.

The Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show is Ireland’s largest equestrian event, and one of the largest events held on the island.

The show has the third largest annual prize pool for International Show Jumping in the world.

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