Tuesday 20 August 2019

Empowerment: RDS to mark 100 years of women saddling up at Dublin Horse Show

Show star: Aoibhín Garrihy, with Ali, will be busy at the Dublin Horse Show. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Show star: Aoibhín Garrihy, with Ali, will be busy at the Dublin Horse Show. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

It may not seem like an obvious event to deliver a first blow for feminism.

But next month will mark 100 years of women competing at the Dublin Horse Show as they cleared one of the first hurdles in the long journey towards equality.

The show had a five-year hiatus during World War I and, when it returned in 1919, female riders made their debut on the second day of the competition, spawning the phrase, now heard at equestrian events all over Ireland, Ladies' Day.

By the 1940s, women were competing at an international level, with their four-legged companions proving the ultimate leveller when it came to keeping up with their male show-jumping rivals.

And as proof of the event's enduring popularity, business is particularly brisk for this year's five-day event, starting on August 7, with only limited tickets left for Friday's Aga Khan Trophy.

Ladies' Day, which takes place on Thursday, August 8, will focus on female empowerment and self-care. Beo Wellness, co-founded by actress Aoibhín Garrihy, will have an action-packed schedule on the day with a number of key speakers covering topics from fashion to food, while there will also be the usual style competition.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy said this year's Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup, sponsored by Stena Line, will be a "particularly special event".

The prize fund for the Longines Grand Prix of Ireland, the biggest competition of the week, has been increased to €350,000, with the total fund up for grabs raising to €1.2m.

There will also be a team competition between some of the top female riders in the world and their male counterparts in a special Centenary Stakes.

Made up of four riders each, it will take place in the main arena on Ladies' Day.

Irish Independent

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