two horse-owning sisters and I had always been intrigued
by those ads in the horse magazines for equestrian vacations.
Finally having come to the conclusion that life is
too short to postpone those activities one really wants
to experience, we booked a week in Ireland with Cross Country
three non-horsey husbands politely declined our invitations
to come along, so off we flew for our adventure in the south
western corner of County Kerry.
on pre-trip questionnaires as to size and riding ability,
we were matched up with a horse and a group of ten riders
and tow guides for a week.
Our first glimpse of our horses was a bit disconcerting.
From a huge truck that held twenty-one tracked
–up horses, by the side of a road in the pouring rain,
came out twelve steeds.
first glance, most of these horses were from what I would
Many were large Irish draft cross-breads, shaggy
fetlocks and all.
While I was not impressed by their looks, my initial
misgivings quickly changed to great admiration for the
tough will cared for horses knew their job and did it
were in top condition and carried us four hours a day
at a fairly fast pace over every type of terrain imaginable.
They routinely performed tasks you and I would
never ask our horses here to do; for example, several
times a day there were fifteen minute trots (I timed them)
over paved country roads.
And throughout the day our guides piping Irish
voice would cheerily call out for us to secure our belongings
for “a little canter” – and off we would go-over rocks
and through mud and enormous puddles, at a pace we would
call a gallop! The
Large, well-shod feet of these sure-footed horses served
them well and I observed no stumbles or slips.
Two mornings were spent on wide ocean beaches and
the many full-out gallops were experienced on the hard-packed
sand and into the surf were exhilarating and thrilling,
to say the least.
The horses seemed to enjoy this as much as we did,
and did not sweat or even breathe hard from the exertion.
horses and riders were will maintained but not pampered.
A typical day would start, after a hearty breakfast,
at 10.30a.m. when our horses were presented to us, ready
to go. Then
we would ride as a group for two hours, stop for a picnic
lunch and ride on for another two hours.
There were no rest stops, other than Kodak moments.
Our horses were taken away from us in the late
afternoon and we were transported to our bed and breakfast.
We then had the evening free to explore the nearby
of the towns were small seaside resorts but three nights
were spent in Killarney, a tourist heaven of shopping,
restaurants and pubs with traditional Irish music.
riding group, besides us three sisters consisted of four
other Americans-two girls just graduated from college
and a couple from Connecticut.
In addition, there was a couple from Germany, a
young man from Holland and our two charming Irish guides.
All the guests were experienced horse people, and
we enjoyed getting to know them and their mounts.
is perfect, right?
If there was a downside to this trip, it was the
had expected some precipitation, but even the guides were
a bit taken aback when it rained steadily for three of
the six riding days!
However, it was not cold (60-65 degrees) and we
all had water-proof clothing that kept us comfortable.
Ireland is such a beautiful country?
The rural and seascape vistas we were treated to
daily were spectacular, whether viewed
through blowing mist, a downpour or brilliant sunshine.
we do it again?
It was the perfect vacation for the avid trail
rider who wants to experience a foreign country while
doing what she loves best.
Killarney Riding Stables,