Type of horses:
Connemara ponies, Irish Draught, Irish Sport horses and Irish Cobs.
Nature of horses:
Good temperament and stamina; ideal for trail riding.
Height of horses:
13.2hh to 16.2hh
Ireland is known as "the land of the horse"; a claim that can be evidenced by its great green landscapes and the Irish people's natural affinity with their steeds. Irish horses have been bred to be able to cross any country and as a consequence they are generally very sure-footed and know how to look after their riders. Located on the Western coast of Ireland, the Foy family have been involved with horses in the locality for generations and began leading out rides from their family farm in 1995. Most of the horses used on their trails have previous competition experience and have been started out at the family stud farm, established in 1963. Their trail herd includes Irish Draughts, Irish Cobs, Irish Sport Horses and Connemara Ponies, all selected for their good temperaments and stamina.
The riding here encompasses some of the most fantastic scenery surrounding the Clew Bay, from the steep slopes of Croagh Patrick in the East, to the wild expanse of the Atlantic ocean in the West. Clew Bay is a natural ocean bay situated in County Mayo, home to many islands. Riders will explore small villages, country lanes, mountain paths, various sea and off-shore islands and, of course, the beautiful sandy beaches. The area is known for its wonderful heritage, as well as the part it played in the story of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland - he spent the forty days of Lent on Croagh Patrick (a holy mountain which overlooks the bay) in 441 AD and is said to have cast a spell to drive out snakes! Throughout the area you will find perfect country for horse riding, with a veritable mix of landscapes which will challenge you to daring climbs, fast canters and the chance to immerse yourself in the nature around you. You do not need to be an expert rider as guests are matched with a suitable horse, you just need to be able to ride confidently at walk, trot and canter in open country and fit enough to spend full days in the saddle.
Padraic Foy personally leads out all of his trail rides and is a qualified Instructor as well as an accomplished horseman. He and his family pride themselves on being able to provide quality Irish horses (many of which are born and raised on the farm) who are the perfect partners for traversing the splendid Irish countryside. The riding centre itself has developed, over many years, into a modern equestrian facility with an indoor and an outdoor arena, as well as a sand gallop track.
Accommodation during the trail will be in guest houses or hotels, depending on your preference.
Guest House: McCarthy's Lodge and Bar, in the heart of Westport, is a family owned traditional guest house. Accommodation is either in comfortable and spacious rooms within the lodge, or private self-contained apartments which are perfect for groups. Breakfast is served each morning in the dining room.
Hotel: The Clew Bay Hotel*** is also ideally situated in the centre of the historic town of Westport. All the rooms are individually designed and decorated with all the essential conveniences in mind. Downstairs you will find the charming Madden Bistro catering for lunchtime and evening meals. Staying here will also entitle you to use the neighbouring 4* Westport Leisure Park - towels can be provided at reception.
Both of these accommodations are located in the centre of the town close to a great selection of fantastic restaurant, shops, attractions and much more.
The grand selection of restaurant and coffee shops in the town mean that there is a great variety of food and meal choices available during your stay. Traditional fare includes hearty roasts of local lamb, beef or pork, plenty of seasonal vegetables and traditional local cheeses and breads, as well as some tasty continental and worldly influences. The town's close proximity to the coast means that seafood and fresh fish is abundant and very good here.
When in Ireland, then one should sample a taste of their fantastic Irish brewed ales, stouts and bitters - not forgetting the traditional pint of iron rich Guiness to warm you up after your ride.
Vegetarian, vegan and speciality diets can be catered for with prior notification.
The County of Mayo is known for its rugged terrain and great outdoor adventure opportunities. For those not inclined to take up the reins, there is no shortage of other activities to have a go at. Easy access to the coast offers opportunities for kayak and canoe enthusiasts, as well as surfing, snorkelling, coasteering and sailing. On land, local activities include a round of golf, climbing, cycling, walking and even archery!
For those looking for a more relaxed time, then check out the areas fantastic local food festivals, independent shops and stores, as well as many local museum and historical attractions. Alternatively, you may like to relax in the pool or take advantage of a wonderful massage at the Westport Leisure Park.
Health requirements: Riders must be fit and able to spend long hours (up to 4 or 5 per day) in an English saddle.
Age limit: 12 years and over. All children aged between 12 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Tuition: Not on the trails - but tuition is available.
Included: Accommodation in either guest houses or hotels (including breakfast), all riding as per the itineraries, as well as picnic lunches and all transfers during the trails.
Not included: Evening meals, airport transfers, flights or travel insurance.
The nearest airport is Ireland West International, just outside the town of Knock. It is only one hour from the riding centre and is served by many of the major UK and European airports.
We can arrange return airport transfers for you, from Knock, Shannon and Dublin airports, at the following costs, for a car of up to 8 people;
Travel by train, directly from Dublin to Westport, and by bus, from Knock or Shannon, is available and is a reliable and reasonably priced alternative to the transfers. We would also highly recommend hiring a car - if you are able to - in order to explore this rugged and unique landscape.
Airport: Knock (Ireland West) Airport
Alternative Airport: Shannon
This six night trail ride is perfect for small groups of experienced and adventurous riders, allowing you to explore some of the most wonderful scenery on the west coast of Ireland. As well as the quaint villages, sandy beaches and mountain tracks, you will be able to travel further along this spectacular stretch of coastline.
Sample Itinerary: Please note that this may vary slightly due to circumstances beyond the guide's and owner's control.
On arrival to the town of Westport, you will be able check in at the hotel or guest house which will be your accommodation throughout the trail.
After breakfast you will be transferred to Drummindoo Stud to meet your host and other riders. After an assessment ride in the indoor arena and being matched with an appropriate horse, you are all transferred to the village of Aughagower for the "Aughagower ride". This takes you through the village of Curvey, along the shores of Knappagh Lake and through the village of Mountbrown before returning to Aughagower along an old shepherd's track. After riding there is a chance to visit the round tower and monastic site which dates back to the 7th century.
In the evening there is an opportunity to meet your host Padraic in one of Westport's pubs for a welcome drink.
Today you will be transferred to Cloona, just outside Westport, to re-join your horses. Set out on the 'Skelp Ride' towards the east side of Croagh Patrick (Ireland's Holy Mountain) and on to Teevnacroagha. Here you will ride in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, to the foot of the mountain which been a site of worship for over 3,000 years. Cross the Owenwee river and on to the peat bog tracks at Owenwee to see the bog oak and how the peat is harvested. The day finishes at Cloona.
Today you will be transferred to the village of Bouris for the 'Laghta Ride' - this leads you to the west of Croagh Patrick and high up in the hills to Laghta where you will cross the Bunowen River. You can enjoy panoramic views of Louisburgh and the Atlantic Ocean as you descend, admiring Clare Island (once home to Grainne Uaile, the famous pirate queen) and Achill Island in the distance. There is evidence of the Lazy Beds (dating back to the Great Famine) where people used to grow potatoes. Ride along some bog roads until your day finishes on your return to Bouris.
This morning you will pick up the trail from the sleepy village of Formoyle, on the edge of the Tawnymackan Natural Heritage Area, for the 'Feenone Ride'. You will be based in Formoyle for the next two days. The ride today takes you over a mountain pass, through the Carrowniskey River and on to the bog roads at Feenone. From here you will ride for Doughmakeon Strand where you can gallop before returning to base for the night.
After a delicious breakfast, you will mount your horses and begin today's wonderful 'Carrowniskey Ride', taking you all the way to Cross Strand. There are plenty of opportunities to gallop here as the Carrowniskey Races are held here annually! On a clear day, you may well be able to spot Inishturk Island, out in the Atlantic ocean. There are many standing stones in the area dating back to megalithic times. Your return journey will take you via the old stone 'Clapper Bridge' (the bridge with the eyes!) and finally back to base for a well-deserved rest.
In the evening you will be able to enjoy a farewell dinner with your host and guide Padraic, in one of Westport's fine restaurants.
After a heartening breakfast, you will check out and wave goodbye to this little corner of Ireland, taking fond memories of your ride along with you.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||8|
|Ability description:||Intermediate - all riders must be able to control a forward going horse at all paces and in open country.|
|Type of ride:||Trail|
|Total riding time:||5 days, approximately 4-5 hours per day|
2017: Rides usually start on a Sunday and end on a Saturday:
11-17, 19-25 March; 2-8, 9-15, 23-29 April; 30 April-6 May; 7-13, 14-20, 21-27 May; 28 May-3 June; 18-24 June; 25 June-1 July; 2-8, 9-15, 16-22, 23-29 July; 30 July-5 August; 13-19 August; 20-27 August; 27 August-2 September; 3-9, 10-16, 17-23, 24-30 September; 1-7, 8-14 October.
Standard Season (March, April, May, June and October):
Guest house accommodation: £1074 per person sharing
Hotel accommodation: £1116 per person sharing
High Season (July, August and September):
Guest house accommodation: £1116 per person sharing
Hotel accommodation: £1243 per person
Prices include: 6 nights of bed and breakfast accommodation in double/twin room, 5 days of riding, 5 picnic lunches and all transfers during the trail.
Single supplement is available for those who are not willing to share a room, at an additional cost of £126 per person.
Extra nights and accommodation for non-riders can also be arranged for you.