Monday, July 20, 2015

From the horse's mouth: Dublin Horse Show

Dublin Horse Show dressage volunteer

Katie Condren works in London now but her colleagues at Dubarry shoes know better then to schedule meetings during the week of Dublin horse show. But having once flown back from a year in New Zealand, she says the trip from London is nothing.

The show takes place from August 5th to 9th but is known to those who love it simply as Horse Show Week. 

Katie (27) first came to Dublin as an 11-year old riding in side-saddle competitions.

‘For me the Horse Show is the one week in the year when all my family is in one place. My mother is on the Committee and she’s a steward, my two brothers are involved. My Dad is not horsey but even he comes up for a day or two from our farm in Laois,’ she said.

‘That’s the beauty of the Horse Show, everyone can share in it. It’s such a stunning location – it’s a celebration of Irish horses really.’

This is Katie’s seventh year as a volunteer steward. This means she helps organise riders and horses in the rings outside the Main Arena – bringing them in, making sure no-one is late or misses their class.

She said: ‘There’s a lot of work. There are over 125 competitions and maybe 1,300 horses and ponies. You keep an eye on the Big Clock – you’d look up at that and think ‘crap! time to go’ and move them along.’

Unlike women taking part in Ladies Day, Katie’s clothing is all about comfort. She said: ‘The ground is so hard, your legs get jarred walking around. Comfortable footwear is a must, no heels. And you have to be careful not to party too much, we start at 8am.’

Her mum is known for supplying rain-gear to stewards who optimistically start the day in shirt-sleeves. Katie jokes she often sees family hats racing past in the busy crowds without knowing the person underneath.

Dublin Horse Show dressage volunteer

And there was the year she lost one of mother's coats only to find it hanging up at the following year's show - neatly placed in the steward's room by whoever found it.

In spite of it all, she makes time to watch her favourite class every year.

‘What I really enjoy is the Connemara performance classes. They’re a traditional breed, and there’s huge interest in them. I’ve ridden a side-saddle display on a Connemara. It’s such a huge honour to compete in Dublin, whether you get a ribbon or not,’ she said.

A version of this interview ran in yesterday's Irish Mail on Sunday as part of a longer story I wrote on behind the scenes at the Dublin Horse Show.

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