Irish National Stud Horse Museum

April 11, 2017

We stumbled upon this small museum while visiting the Irish National Stud. Its collection of artifacts, augmented by wall-sized informational panels, describing the history of the horse as a species, the history of horses in Ireland, and of horse racing. It also tells the history of the Irish National Stud and its most famous horses.

Panel describing the history of Horses in Ireland

Skeleton of Hirkle, champlion steeplechase horse

Entering the museum, you are confronted with the skeleton of Arkle, “The greatest steeplechaser in history”. This, along with the hoof of an other champion horse, presented with a silver horseshoe, highlighted the strange combination of reverence and irreverence in the treatment of race horses – I would not expect to see body parts of champions in most other sports museums.

First or second Century Bridle bit.

Large photo of a 19th century smithy, with a display of historical tools from blacksmiths, saddlers and farriers.

Historical exhibits included a bridle bit from the first or second century. Elsewhere, a giant photo is blown up of a 19th century blacksmith, used as a backdrop for a display fof the tools of  saddlers and farriers  far back as the 15th century.

Another set of displays concentrated on Jockeys. One exhibit showed the whip and saddle from Sir Gordon Richards, “arguably the greatest jockey of all time”, according the the label in the case. Another showed an antique jockey weighing chair from Curragh racecourse, located near the Irish National stud.

Irish National Stud record books

The President’s Colors

A few items told bits of the history of the Irish National Stud itself. There were old hand-written books of records for horses, showing both each horse’s record as stud or a mare, and the racing records of its progeny. There was also a jockey uniform in “The President’s Colors”, which are worn when the Irish National Stud keeps a horse to race (the Irish National Stud is owned by the Republic of Ireland).

Our trip to this museum was a nice ending to an enjoyable afternoon at the the Irish National Stud.

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