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.
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.
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.
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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