I’m still planning on coming home Monday, but it’s going to be tough to do.
Sarah and I began the riding portion of our trip Monday and it certainly hasn’t been a disappointment. We have had to get used to the Irish way of doing things, and Irish time. Apparently 10am means 10:20, and no one is really in a rush to get much done. The riding stable is as authentically Irish as they come. The horses are amazing, all large Irish drafts or Irish Sport Horses and they know their jobs so incredibly well.
Willie Leahy, the gentleman that runs the facility is probably in his 80s and has been around horses his entire life. A nicer man cannot be found. He has a great laugh, and he takes us out riding and when we do something right he yells out “I love ya for it!”
He basically plops us on one of his horses and tells us to go jump something. You don’t say no. He trusts us more and more and gives us nicer but younger horses each day. It’s been amazing. I hope to write about each of the horses when I have a bit more time and am not so exhausted from riding all day.
On Tuesday we foxhunted. It was absolute insanity. Essentially we were thrown into the pack and had to keep up. We jumped 20 stone walls in an hour. Probably 40 in the course of 4 hours. The gal that was with our barn, visiting from NY, fell off at the first jump and broke her ankle. Because she was in the middle of nowhere, she had to ride with a broken ankle for about 2 hours. It’s essentially survival of the fittest. AND I LOVED IT!!!!! You gallop and stop. Gallop and jump crazy ass jumps. Gallop and then listen to the bugle of the hunstman calling his hounds. It’s incredible.
One gal was riding side saddle. Foxhunting, side saddle. At one point we got separated from the pack and were in a field with Maria, the side saddle rider, and some young kids. Maria took us galloping through fields, and over stone walls until we caught up with the hunt again. She did it all side saddle. On a horse that had hunted twice. And we were flying along, not stopping, no looking back.
I told her she was my hero. Because she is.
At the end of the day people were buying us pints at the pub. And then Willie picked us up in his lorry and drove us home and we raved about his horses and told him all our stories. He ate it all up as he was once the field master, and is still very connected to the hunt.
We are hunting again tomorrow. Willie had us jumping some crazy stuff today that I hope to share video of. At some point. Right now I am just excited to still be awake past 9pm…