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Sunday 17 December 2017

Cowboy has wild time with crowds at the RDS

MANY a troubled soul would quietly crave a few sage words of advice whispered in their ear at the moment.

Certain pesky politicians spring to mind. But yesterday the comforting words on offer were solely reserved for four-legged creatures.

Irish people may have had enough of taking advice from certain 'cowboys' over the past few years, but for the world-renowned 'horse whisperer' Monty Roberts they were willing to make an exception.

Yesterday, there were few bankers' suits to be spotted in the heart of leafy Dublin 4, as people abandoned their pinstripes for their sturdy heels as the first day of the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show got under way at the RDS.

And it was a 75-year-old man from California who was proving to be the biggest lure.

People were naturally curious to see Mr Roberts in action as he is the man who inspired Robert Redford's hit film 'The Horse Whisperer'. But as he was soon to find out, Irish horses are just like Irish politicians: they don't listen.

On this occasion the recalcitrant 'Romy' fired off the rider he put aboard for the first time after working his 'magic' to break him in using natural methods.

"You've been feeding these horses buckweed or something. I mean he was really a bucker," said Mr Roberts, who is in Ireland to visit his certified instructor here, Caroline Jennings.

It has been five years and 2,000 horses since he last had a rider hit the dirt, he said.

"The Irish are very adept at finding you the tough one, they will work hard at it ... you'll find the same thing in Poland. They'll find every Hannibal Lecter they can."

And Mr Roberts was as close to a film star as the thousands of people milling around the trade stands and show rings were likely to get.

Earlier, there were a few film veterans milling about as the deputy lord mayor Edie Wynne rolled up in the gilt-edged carriage dating from 1791 on a rare excursion through the city.

The black Friesians pulling the carriage had last week been the centre of attention on the set of the new drama series 'Camelot' being filmed in Co Wicklow.

The only concern voiced on the trip from the Mansion House out to the RDS came from the deputy lord mayor's five-year-old grandson Ryan Wynne; he wanted to know why there weren't any seat belts on board.

Others were also slightly curious -- this time as to the whereabouts of the lord mayor himself, Cllr Gerry Breen, as the chain holder is normally only too happy to descend from the elegant coach.

"The lord mayor is on holidays. I'm most surprised, honoured and pleased to get the opportunity," Ms Wynne said.

The smell of leather wafted over the trade stands as people studied the goods on offer from saddles to scarves, whilst one or two might have been seeking shelter from the sporadic rain showers.

Elsewhere others were hard at work.

"Hopefully that will put springs in his shoes," farrier John Boyne said as he surveyed the mischievous horse River Foyle, a star from the Army Equitation School, who will jump the Puissance Wall.

"Just like an athlete we try and fit them up with a set of Nikes," he quipped. Some of the show horses were being sent for light-weight aluminum shoes, others a layer of rubber to absorb the shock as they land.

But, John admitted, the industry is firmly feeling the impact of the recession.

David Conlon, from Co Armagh, who brought in his 10-year-old daughter Claire's jumping pony 'Midget on a Mission' to have a shoe replaced, admitted the show was more expensive than others.

"But it is the place where everybody wants to be," he said. "We travel the length and breadth of the country to be here."

And today, the attention will be lavished on shoes of the teetering stiletto variety as Ladies Day gets under way.

Irish Independent

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