Other fotos will follow! These ones are all made by my cousin and my aunt. I am fighting with tech in the moment, sorry 🙁
Who heard already of horse trekking?
When I was planing my trip to Ireland with my dad at my grandmothers house. My cousin told me about this horsefarm where you can do a week long trek with horses with just a map, no guide. We both do horseback riding scine we are five even though I stopped to do it regulary a few years back. Of course we both loved the idea to ride through Ireland’s romantic countryside, bond with our horses, fell free in an ancient world. So we decided to do it. We invited my aunt along and soon we booked the Donegal South trail, a five day long trail with a starting day extra on the farm.
After an one and a half week long roundtrip of Ireland (of wich you can read here: http://crossingland.com/an-irish-roundtrip ) we arrived north of Sligo near to the Northern Ireland border. Here and around Donegal we would ride for a week. The part of Ireland was advertised as the one with the most faries per square meter.
I don’t want to tell you every day step by step, but the highlights:
So the first day had the greatest highlight of the whole trip: A ride on a beach in brilliant sunshine. The weeks before it never really stopped raining but this day was sunny and warm. In the morning we got our horses. It was a exiting moment because we would be together with these wonderfull creatures for the next days and spend almost every one of them 5 hours or more in a saddle.
My horse was named Bobby and a Connemara pony, though not white like the wild ponies we saw the day before when we crossed Connemara.
So the first day was to get to know our partners. We rode for a few hours through beautiful Irish nature. Purple flower fields, streems, forrest and then the sand dunes started! I never rode on a Beach and never thought a horse could climb steep sand dunes. But Bobby found his way without trubles, jumping and sliding up and down the at least 10 m high dunes. Back on the farm they worned us that on the beach the horses would want to run. We are experienced riders and so we could enjoy the following gallop.
As soon as their hoves touched the beach they were off. I never gallopped that fast and it was amazing. We had brilliant sunshine and empty sandy beach and horses that wanted to run. For a few minutes we flew over the sand and I couldn’t stop myself to cheer. Bobby and Cider, my cousin’s horse, chalenged each other in a little race wich Bobby won.
The beach was too soon ending and we never had the chance to do something like this again in our time there. But this one time was soooo super great.
The only downers on this day were that Bobby kept shaking his had up and down through the ride which he did for the rest of the week no matter what I tried (too loose/tight snaffle, too short reins….) and that when we retunred to the farm my cousin’s horse cider simply lied down and began to role in the paddock with her still on him. She twisted her knee badly and had to ride with a bandage the whole week.
The next highlight or downlight was that the third day of our trip was a rain day. We were told not to leave from out B&B before 11 am due to the tides on the beach but we didn’t leave before 12 in the hope it would stop raining: It didn’t!
The horses were wet and misbehaving and Cider even rose and kicked after our brake because he didn’t want to leave the horses on the meadow next to the café were we ate lunch. Then they refused to go down to the beach where a lifeguard competition stopped us from cantering and frighted our horses. So by the time we reached a piece of empty beach wer were wet to the bones and no one was in the mood to take an extra loop to gallop. Horses and people wanted to be dry and warm.
When we finally reached the B&B for the night we still had to unsaddle our horses and feed them. Only that the ground was so muddy that I slipped on a small slope and fell face first into the mud. I hold on to the metal bar where we tighed the horses too and waited for my family to save me only that they couldn’t get to me, it was just too slippery. So I had to let go of the bar and slide through the mud down the slope. You can imagine how I looked afterwards. Surprisingly my clothes were still the cleanest by the end of the week.
But the B&B owners were really friendly. They were so sweet, dried all of our cloths and drove us to the local restaurant for dinner where a cool waitor created us a desert surprise out of all the leftover deserts he still had because we arrived so late.
Another quite hard thing to do is open and close gates from horseback. All of us did it once and all of us hoped down to do it if we just couldn’t navigate our horses close enough or stood at the end on the opposite side than the others!
Also we just twice made a real brake. The other days we just eat some cookies on the horses while they ate the gress on the sidewalk.
But the cutest thing ever was when you arrived in the morning on the paddock or in the stable and three pony heads were looking towards you. On the paddocks Bobby and Cider also came towards us. Butler, my aunts horse, was quite old so he prefered to be picked up. We knew it was only because they wanted food but still…. Also having your „own“ horse for a week was great. You could get to know his flaws and react. My cousin’s horse for example hated to go on the left side of the road which is really unpractical in Ireland where everybody drives left. Since we had to ride on big streets sometimes my cousin had a hart time convincing Cider to go left. Also sometimes only Butler would walk in the front.
- Other than that we experienced a rather unfriendly B&B where we had to stay 2 nights.
- Donegal, tiny but nice town.
- A group of cool American ladies of which one has a horse therapy center in Texas and who we met again by chance in a crowd in Dublin.
- An evening at home at the B&B because the only local food serving place was closed and we then ate Chinese instant soup and cookies.
- An impossible feeding of the horses because we had to get them away from 4 other agressive hungry horses.
- Were treated like a tourist attraction. People took fotos from os while driving past us. Did they never see a horse? Why do people take pictures of total strangers on horses while riding down a common road?
- Cows that patently walked across the BEACH to drink from the SEA (Seacows?).
- And one of the most epic moments in my life:
The last day we were picked up by the Italian??? ranger of the farm. He trained all the horses himself and always wistled, sang and said “ Ladies, Ladies“ in his Italien??? accent. We heard him on Wednesday when the 3 day trail people got picked up. „Ladies, Ladies, put everything everywhere.“ „Put everything everywhere!“ was also the first thing we heard from him on friday when he picked us up.
The day before we didn’t have a fixed route and so we rode through the neighborhood. We ended up on a hillside with a fantastic view over a lake and green medows. Finally the weather was sunny again! Also we almost got stuck in a swamp 😀
So when the guy came and picked us up he drove to a medow that belonged to the farm. The horses could relax for a week before starting a new trail with new people again. It was hard to think of strangers on „our“ horses. So he had this big truck were 8 horses could fit it and when we arrived at the how it looked empty paddock we suddenly honked the trucks horn. I have to say it was 8 am and we were really tired and the horn was really loud.
Any German horse I know would run away and go crazy by this roar but our horses in the truck didn’t even snorted. Nothing happened.
He honked again. By this time we were out of the truck so it was even louder. He put food in the trays on the paddock and then honked again. Still nothing. I joked that any moment a herd of horses would gallop over the hill out of the morning mist. He honked again.
And then suddenly like in a movie a thunderin sound was to be heard. I have to admit I didn’t see the first horses but suddenly over 50 horses did came gallopping over the hill out of the morning mist. Brown, black, white, cream coloured horses. They made an ellegant curve and then ran over to the treys and began to eat while kicking and biting each other like real wild horses.
My cousin and I must have looked really stupid.So the ranger went in and caought one horse after another. Then he handed them to us.
Over the whole trip I was amazed how open the Irish are with their horses. In Germany an unguided trail with horses is near impossible if the horses aren’t yours. After 10 years experience I was not permitted to hold 2 horses at once. Here people didn’t even want to see how we rode. They just asked three question and then handed us 3 horses, said good luck and released us.
Now the Italian?? handed all of us 2 horses, mine being the biggest and me being the shortes. Not 4 meters away the rest of their herd was fighting for food only a fence between them and us. The horses were relativly calm but still in Germany I wouldn’t even be allowed to pet one of the animals.
We brought the horses to the truck and drove to the farm with them. All the time I was marveled by the experience of seeing a horse herd running over a hill from a paddock which must be so large that it took them minutes to cross it and get to us.
It was hard to say good bye to our horses Bobby, Cider and Butler which guided us well through the week, were almost ever kind horses and always trustfull! I never thought Bobby would through me off or bite me. He knew the way and never got me into a dengerous situation. Thank you Bobby!
But still in the end my behind was hurting just a bit and I was walking like a cowboy 🙂
Finally a few more fotos: