Equitation School

Army Equitation School Collection

Reference Code: IE-MA-ASE
Dates: 1926-1981
Level of Description: Fonds
Extent and Medium: 69 boxes containing 2543 files with reports, letters and memoranda, newspaper clippings, copy photographic prints, bound volumes, published booklets, leaflets and magazines, printed dockets, invoices, tags and tickets.
Access: Open to the public
Language: English

The Equitation School was founded in 1926 after contact between Judge Wylie (Royal Dublin Society), Colonel Hogan (Quartermaster General) and President William T. Cosgrave. Its purpose was to promote Ireland, the Irish Horse, its Show Jumpers and, by extension, the Irish Defence Forces.

The school enjoyed a good start to its competitive exploits, followed by a chastening experience in 1927. However, the introduction of Colonel Rodzianko, to refine training methods, helped the showjumping team (which included riders such as Major Ged O’Dwyer, Colonel Frederick Aherne, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Corry and Captain Cyril Harty) to win 20 Nations Cups between 1931 and 1939.

A reduction in funding after the Emergency Period meant that the Equitation School could not take part in full team events until the 1970s, but it had many individual successes in the intervening years and has enjoyed numerous successes since then.

Officers from the School have also been heavily involved in the wider sphere of Irish equestrianism. Examples include Colonel J.J. Lewis (3rd National Chairman of the Show Jumping Association of Ireland*), Colonel Billy Ringrose (Arena Director for the Dublin Horse Show*) and Colonel Ned Campion (Secretary General of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland*).

*Just one example of the positions these Officers have held.

Scope and Content:

This collection comprises files produced, and secondary source material compiled, by staff of the school and both primary and secondary source material received from other equitation-related boards, societies, and professional associations. It was transferred to the Military Archives in phases between the mid-1990s and 2010 and covers the period from its formation up to 1981. It comprises three main strands of operation of the school, i.e.

  • The Administration Files cover anything from inspections of the school, rations for the men and the horses, letters of appreciation from Ireland and abroad, and files of historical clippings relevant to the school. They make up the bulk of the day-to-day files necessary in the running of such a school, interacting with the Defence Forces organisation as well as covering its interactions with equestrian bodies such as Bord na gCapall and the various international federations.

  • The Horse Show Files constitute the bulk of the collection, covering all levels of show that the army riders took part in, from small local shows across the country, to the major annual international shows and the Olympic Games. They were usually created by the Chef d’Equipe and typically include results forms, documentation from the organising committees such as programmes, copy entry forms, competitor tickets, etc., a report on the show itself and varying levels of travel and financial records, depending on the location and importance of the show/event.

The Veterinary Files cover such subjects as schedules for the disposition of the horses (dependent on their age and health), horse workbooks, veterinary inspections and accounts and shoeing logbooks.