August 13 2015

(Photo: Ballybunion Prints)

The good times returned to Ballybunion yesterday, dare I say, for one day only!


My Trip to the Dublin Horse Show 2015

When I heard that my family’s horse, Sonny Bill was entered for the RDS in August 2015, I resolved to go to support him and to see for myself what all the hype is about.

Health Warning; If you have no interest in my day at the show look away now, cos the next bit is all about the RDS Dublin horseshow on Wednesday August 5 2015.

I got to the RDS bright and early and the place was deserted. The vendors and stall holders were just setting up shop. I was the first to enter every competition for a spa day, numerous holidays and god knows what else. There were free sweets, free samples of stuff etc, in short a child’s paradise. You could spend the whole day shopping and never see a horse.

I met Ireland’s leading equine artist; Tony O’Connor from Tarbert. His magnificent works are a tad out of my price range.

These horse sculptures were made out of driftwood.  Aren’t they lovely? Why didn’t Kildare Co. Council buy these instead of those dreadful new stainless steel horses on the roundabout by The Kildare Village Outlet Centre?

There was a craft exhibition too. These fellows were knitted!

I did buy something, a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner from this lovely young lady. It was home before me, delivered free as a perk of buying it at the show.

In the stable area I found my brother sitting guard over Sonny Bill. The washing and plaiting is done.   Showing is a beauty pageant for horses and, like all beauty queens, Sonny Bill has to suffer for his art. He is ponced up with his tail wrapped and curls in his hair and soon he will have his designer dress tweaked and his nails painted.

This is the decorating part. Felicity, who will ride Sonny Bill in the competition, is making patterns on his back with  baby oil, a sponge and a brush.

Noreen, another of the horse beauticians, is painting his hoofs.

His number on, his rider gone for her beauty treatment, and Pat gives him a little bit of last minute advice, “Head up, ears foreword, smile and behave for the judges and absolutely no bucking.”

“As if…”, thinks Sonny Bill

We’re a long way from Kanturk now, in Ring 1 at the RDS Horse Show 2015. Sonny Bill began his showing career in a soggy boggy field in Tralee at the Kingdom County Fair 2015. It was the only day he didn’t win a rosette. Since then he has got used to victory so hopes are high for his first foray into the big time.

Felicity and Sonny are well used to one another by now and they look as at ease here in the big arena as  if they were riding down the Glen Road at home.

Now this is where the equine beauty contest diverges from the human one. Each judge in turn rides each of the horses. Sonny Bill knows that this is where he is being tested and he behaves impeccably.

Next comes the nerve wracking bit. The judges call in the horses in order of merit as they rated them after their ride. Sonny Bill is second. It would be foolhardy to count any chickens at this stage because at any time along the line the judges can change this order. The first could be last and the last first.

This is the equivalent of the swimwear section. Sonny Bill has to strip off down to the bare essentials and allow the judges to look him over and he has to do a little trot to show how he can move when nobody is on his back giving him orders.

Phew! the order of the first three remains the same.

Sonny Bill is second. He is given his blue rosette. Everyone is delighted.

You might think that we would be a little disappointed that he didn’t win. Not at all! there were 10 other disappointed 4 year old hunters in that ring whose owners would have given an arm and a leg for any colour rosette from The RDS.

Like all beautiful creatures he has to learn to put up with the groupies.

All the titivating has to be undone and he has to be given loads of praise and hay as a reward.

Sonny Bill and Felicity congratulate one another on a job well done.

My friend, Margo, who, like myself, is not fully at ease around horses gets close enough to give him a little pat. Elizabeth can’t keep the beam from her face and Sonny has a little sniff of the latest ribbon.

I went as well to the main arena where the show jumping was coming to an end for the day.

Leo Varadcar was presenting the prizes in this competition. In answer to your question I have no idea why.

My friend, Margo’s, grandnephew, Tommy Harty was jumping in this arena.


And now for something completely different…..

Finuge, 1974


Lee Strand U16 County League

(Photo: Ita Hannon)

Beale U16s who defeated Duagh to win the U16 Football County League 2015