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Showing In Ireland


By Cary Hart, MSHR London Bureau

My friend Lynden Barrow was asked to be a judge the EquiFestival in Caven, Ireland, held June 28-29, 2014. This is a large show that uses only English judges as a way to let the Irish competitors be seen by someone new. My immediate response to her invitation was, “I’m coming!” [Read more about the show at:]

We flew into Ireland on Friday June 27 and drove up to Caven to meet the other judges, all of whom are English. The organizer explained that utilizing out-of-country judges is what makes EquiFestival different from other shows.  Since Ireland is a relatively small country, competitors ride for the same judges over and over at shows. Bringing in judges from England lets people get a fresh opinion of their horse.

We headed over to the show grounds, Cavan Equestrian Centre, Saturday morning and the facilities were amazing!  They have three indoor arenas: one extra large one for international show jumping competitions, one large arena and one smaller one.  They also host several large horse sales at the site throughout the year. [Read more at:]

 We got checked in and found that the organizer was rather stressed because two of her stewards had not shown up.  She asked me, “I don’t suppose you can steward.”  Before I could answer Lynden responded, “Yes, she can.”  And so I was drafted to steward!

Stewarding in the Irish show ring is essentially being a judge’s assistant. The Steward calls the class into the arena, checks off the riders when they enter, gets them started around the arena, tells them when to change gaits, lines them up, gives out the ribbons, and records the results. It sounds simple enough, but involves a high level of time management as well.  A good steward can help a judge make up time in a ring or cause a judge to lose time. 

I spent the morning with Lynden judging Mountain and Moorland pony breeds. After a break, I helped another judge as she judged rescue horses, first ridden show and hunter ponies, leading rein show and hunter ponies, and show ponies in several sizes.  

After a few hours’ work, I was finally relieved, only to be chucked back in to help Lynden with miniature horse classes. She was running behind and we were able to make up time - about 2 ½ hours of classes in an hour.  I was stacking up the horses two at a time, so when she finished with one, she just spun around and the next one was standing there waiting for her to judge the confirmation.  We were in a rush because we were had to get Lynden to the evening performance to judge the championships for the classes that she had judged during the day. I finally got a break when we moved to the evening performance. 

All of the evening classes were the Championship classes for each section shown during the day. The Championships are held at only a few shows a year because they follow a different set of rules.  Those leading horses In-hand dress more formally and those in the riding classes wear tails, if male, or black coats if women.  There is also an overall In-hand and Riding Supreme Championship, chosen from all the competitors in the In-hand and Riding sections, respectively. 

It was a great day out with horses!  If you are ever in Ireland, I recommend a day at an Irish horse show; it will give you a chance to see a wide variety of the types of show horses in Ireland. 

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