THE Irish Donkey Society (IDS) will stage a spectacular display of donkeys, donkey farming equipment and carriages at work and at play in Ring 1 of the RDS showgrounds on the final day of Dublin Horse Show on Sunday, August 11 from 3.45pm to 4.25pm this year. This will be the eighth Annual Donkey Exhibition at the RDS and IDS members will thrill and delight a large crowd of around 1,500 onlookers with an exhibition of 20 donkeys, mules and foals on lead rein, being ridden and with various old antique farming equipment and donkey-drawn carriages, showing how this loveable and sociable animal used to be the poor man’s horse in years gone by. Donkeys will also make an appearance in the Main arena from 2.25pm to 2.35pm on the same day.
There will be a parade of three donkey carriages and one mule carriage for the very first time, in front of the President of Ireland and his special guests.
The theme for the 2019 Show is commemorating the 100th Anniversary of women being allowed to ride animals for the very first time in 1919 at the RDS Horse Show.
The Reverend Canon Alastair Graham, Chairman of the IDS, along with James Wyse, PRO of the IDS and commentator of this exhibition, and Amanda Wallace, Chief Steward of the display, will ensure another top class demonstration of donkey ability and charm, which will win the hearts and minds of onlookers. Michael Slavin, the well-known sport horse journalist, commentator and broadcaster and founder member in 1972 with the Hon. Lady Averil Swinfen of the Irish Donkey Society is the Honorary President of the society and will be on hand to present rosettes to all the exhibitors.
In the 1880s, there were 250,000 working donkeys on Irish farms – at the end of World War 2 in 1945 there were 128,000 and today there are less than 7,000 donkeys and mules on the island of Ireland, with less than 5,000 breeding females. The donkey in Ireland is in danger of extinction in the next 50 years!
The Donkey, along with the Leprechaun, the Harp, the Shamrock and the Irish Wolfhound are reminders of ‘Auld Ireland’ – the way farming used to be, before mechanisation and the tractor took over after the last world war. Their only use today is for social and pleasure reasons and, as they can live to be 40 years old, their numbers are in very serious decline.
The IDS mission is to show what this wonderful animal can do if you put some time into its training, just like hundreds of thousands of people do with their ponies and horses – they no longer do farm work either, but are kept in very large numbers in Ireland for sport and pleasure purposes.