Emma & Holly, Far and Ride
Ireland is a place renowned not only for its friendly people and lush countryside but also for the quality of its horses. We were therefore eager to find the quintessential Irish ride to offer our clients, and think we’ve done just that. In October this year, Holly and Emma headed out to Country Limerick in Southwestern Ireland, to the heart of verdant Golden Vale, in order to trial what we hoped would be an excellent destination for riders.
We had high hopes for this trip and we were not disappointed! From the friendly driver who collected us from Shannon airport to our warm reception at the riding centre, we were made to feel happy and welcome here. In fact, everyone we encountered (including locals in the street) was delightful! For our fleeting one night stay we were accommodated in the luxurious 4 star hotel, The Dunraven Arms, situated in charming village of Adare. This provided wonderful lodging of a high standard – the room was decorated beautifully and the beds were superbly comfortable. This hotel is the ideal option for those who enjoy a more indulgent holiday and it has a number of wonderful facilities and friendly, horse loving owners and staff (the hotel itself is involved in arranging local hunt days). The breakfast was also a real treat with so many options, a delicious way to start a day of riding.
The facilities at the riding center are absolutely brilliant and any rider could be happy here – the indoor and outdoor schools are enormous and the cross country course is an absolute dream! It’s spread out over the 120 acres of the estate and offers many obstacles to suit all abilities, as well as providing an excellent way to enjoy the qualities of the wonderful horses here. As we both have different riding experiences, here’s what we each have to say about the riding:
Holly – “As more of a happy hacker, whose horse is now in retirement (so I’m pretty rusty, especially on the technical bits and not having jumped anything in a good six years!), I didn’t expect to get too involved in the Cross Country or the jumping here. I was looking forward to riding the Irish horses and knew that I could test out the tuition available on behalf of clients like myself, perhaps also taking some time to enjoy the countryside. Well, it’s fair to say that I came back having achieved far more than I ever would have expected! I felt so at ease on the horses here, and I was so well matched to them, that I was able to take on some smaller jumps in our morning lesson. I rode a beautiful gelding called Claddagh, a 16.3hh grey sports horse who was forward going but not too much for me to handle. How I would have loved to bring him home!
Having enjoyed the tuition and the jumping practice, the group headed outside to the cross country course with the guidance of an instructor. This course is suited to everyone and as we rode around, we paused at each point where riders could take a large jump, a smaller one further along or could simply enjoy riding around with the group. Inspired into bravery by the lovely Claddagh, who was eager to go and take on the jumps but also very easy to hold back, I decided to go for it and take on some of the smaller jumps. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time! The group was of mixed abilities but everyone was smiling as they rode around, jumping whatever obstacles they felt comfortable to or just enjoying being out on these fab horses. We headed back in for our lunch break and I’m pretty sure that I was beaming with a sense of accomplishment.
After lunch guests have the option of what to do in the afternoon. More cross country for me! This time I rode out with some of the older riders, including some local Irish men who are regulars there. They were so amiable and really encouraging, talking to me about the jumps and the horses. This time I rode a smaller horse, a bay of around 15.2hh named Aubrey. Aubrey was less forward going than Claddagh but an absolute dream for the less experienced rider as he really knew his job and took me safely over a variety of obstacles including stone walls, planks, tyres and up steps. He was so easy to control and I knew I was safe to take on jumps, some bigger than those I’d faced in the morning. It was a wonderful afternoon to a great day of riding and has motivated me to continue with lessons back at home. I certainly won’t forget cantering through the lush fields with a smile on my face and I hope to do it again in the near future.”
Emma – “Having been a keen rider from a young age I particularly enjoy to jump and equally love cross country. I have evented in the past but not ridden much this summer due to my horse being out of work. Due to this break, I was very much looking forward to some training sessions! I was introduced to Nasdaq, a 15.3hh Chestnut Warmblood. He is a seven year old, successful junior event horse, a fabulous match in my eyes! We set off to the indoor school for our morning flatwork session, starting off with some basic warm-up exercises including circles and shallow loops before doing some canter work. I clicked with Nasdaq and enjoyed riding him very much, he knew his job but still had a spark. The flat session flowed into some pole work before following on to some show jump exercises. The training sessions were constructive and safety conscious.
Holly and I dismounted and were fitted with body protectors (always a good idea for cross country) before heading out to the course. We left the arena and rode up the drive as a group, all horses walked calmly despite knowing where they were going. I set off to jump a step up (optional) and out onto the beautiful established grassland, making it fantastic going. Fences range from small logs and poles to larger walls and jumps with a good variety of obstacles over undulating land, including water, ditches and many more! I recommend this destination to a variety of riders from beginners to the more experienced rider wanting to compete and improve their skills”.
There is so much fun to be had here and so much to learn! The level of tuition is wonderful and the place is well managed by Sue and Dan, aided by their secretary Tess who is helpful, fun and great at her job. If you need advice on anything then Tess is sure to be able to help you out, just ask. Had we had more time, we would have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the village of Adare as it was simply lovely. There are also a whole mix of other activities to be enjoyed, that’s if you can tear yourself away from the riding centre for long enough to try them out. The centre is a nice environment with a lot of friendly faces, cuddly dogs and happy horses which are well looked after. We liked that we were able to watch lessons and chat with other riders when not in the saddle and would recommend this, without any doubt, to our clients.
This location is a real rider’s delight for a whole range of reasons. Firstly, the facilities here are top notch and there is something to suit everyone, no matter which riding discipline they are most interested in. Secondly, the horses are well bred and excellent quality Irish Sport Horses and Connemara ponies which have been beautifully schooled and handled. They are trustworthy mounts and horses can be found to suit everyone. If that’s not enough, this destination is made even more noteworthy due to it’s lovely location (next to the charming village of Adare and placed in the gorgeous Golden Vale), the quality of the staff who are experienced, well qualified and friendly and the number of excellent accommodation options to suit.
Take a look at this terrific ride and feel free to give us a call if you’d like to know more. Emma and Holly had the most fabulous time taking on the cross country course and think that you will too!
Read more about the ride here: Cross Country and Tuition in the Golden Vale.