Daughter wants a riding vacation in Ireland. Suggestions?
My college-fresheman daughter wants to take a riding vacation in Ireland this summer. I went about 6 yrs ago solo and she has never quite forgiven me.
I think she would do best in a kind of a structured-learning environment such as cross country schooling or some such, with people her own age. Does anyone have any knowledge of such a place? She has been riding for 11 years and got as far as the 3' jumpers. She rides at college (Findlay) now.
I rode with Willie Leahey when I went, and I had a great time, but I'm not sure if that would be for her. L-o-n-g road hacks in all kinds of weather, and they really don't turn anyone down, so what the group actually ends up doing can sink to the lowest common denominator.
On the plus side, we waded the horses to an offshore island where those that were able jumped in-and-out of abandoned, roofless stone cottages. It was really great fun and we were all exhausted after dinner (typically 9pm) so we just passed out. But I think that she would want a little more to do at night, even if it's just hanging with peers.
Ha Ha. Well, maybe if I hadn't adopted that OTTB mare.....I see "arab" in your SN....Samantha's mare, Bella, is a "buckskin pinto arabian"...she'll be 6 this year. There's a picture of her on my COMH page. She's at college with Sam and I miss them both.
Last edited by tcgelec; Jan. 6, 2009 at 06:43 PM.
Several years ago I went to Callaighstown outside Dublin. I booked it through Cross Country International, but they might be taking direct bookings now. They had a lot of young women working on their BHS and if she is going in summer, I would imagine there would be other young riders. The only thing is that I don't think they have accomodations on site, at least they didn't at the time, so we rented a car.
You should look into a vacation at Mount Juliet which is near Kilkenny. I went there several years ago, and it was FABULOUS. It's a beautiful estate, and the experience was second to none. They have wonderful horses who are suited to a variety of riders and very good instruction. I took several cross country lessons and went on hacks around the estate. Feel free to PM me if I can answer any questions
I have friends who really enjoyed the Clonshire Equestrian Center and Mount Juliet programs. I'm really hoping to go to Dublin this summer, so hopefully I can squeeze in a few days riding at one of these locations.
A couple of years ago, a group of us went on the Markree Castle ride (now Atlantic Coast Trail ride), booked through Equitours. Although the trip centered mostly on trail riding, we did ask for a jumping lesson one morning. If you plan ahead, you may be able to customize your riding experience to include more training. They do have an indoor arena and cross-country course. During the summer, they run an English Language lesson program, so if you go during the summer, there may be more people of approximately your daughter's age with whom to ride.
Sligo is a lovely town, and the surrounding area is gorgeous (William B. Yeat's country). I'd love to visit that area again.
Read your post and wanted to give you another man's opinion who has ridden in Ireland a few times. I would suggest the Clonshire Equestrian Centre in Adare. I think it is in County Limerick, and only about 14 miles from the city of Limerick itself. Check out this equestrian website for some better pricing and information about the riding facility itself.
I rode there in 2004 and most recently on a different trip this last year during St. Patrick's Day week. Clonshire is a superb riding centre with individualized programs and not the "one size fits all" that you eluded to in your post. A lot of younger, school age students visit Clonshire, and they would be well suited to your daughter's abilities and interests. Also, if she is looking for things to do off the property, Adare has a lot of museums, castles, and historical venues, for the "full Ireland experience". In addition, Limerick is one of the larger cities in Ireland, and a wealth of activities await her. The university is also located there, so college age activities are probably more abundant...yes, there will be pubs!
Adare is also close to Shannon airport, and ideally located for visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, and the historic Rock of Cashel. It would definitely be a trip to make all of her riding friends at college very jealous. I would suggest your daughter find a friend to travel with her, as any riding location or travel company is going to charge a "single supplement" of a few hundred dollars, unless they have another single rider coming in that would be willing to share.
As for Markree Castle; I spent two nights there this past March during the week prior to St. Patrick's Day. Don't bother. I am a castle fanatic and was quite disappointed in the room accommodations...very shabby and in severe need of updating. The dining room was nice and the food was excellent, but the rest of the castle was a significant let down. I inquired about riding while there, and was informed the castle no longer offered riding, but was outsourced to an off property riding centre. There are stables still on the property; just unused.
Check out Clonshire in Adare. Sue Foley is wonderful, and a mother of several daughters. One of my daughters went there with a friend when she was a junior in HS. Both girls had a wonderful time. They stayed at the Dunraven Arms Hotel, and rode 3 times per day (show jumping, polo, and cross country). They also went to see the races one day. Clonshire was a great place for them to go and be independent travelers, while still having responsible people look after them. I think Clonshire has their own website that you can google.
Hi, just wanted to clarify about the Sligo ride...the stables that hosted the ride that I attended were not the Markree stables, but the Sligo Riding Center in Carrowmore. I believe that with the current trip, as organized by Equitours, you stay at a hotel in Sligo proper (with an option to stay at the Markree for one night. ) I have to agree, though, the best part of the Markree Castle was the pub!
I think the owner, Declan McGarry, rides in the local grand prixs; they have quite a range of horses for all different levels.
I too can heartily recommend Clonshire Equestrian Centre. I have been there several times myself and it is a fantastic place.
If your daughter would like to stay on the grounds of the equestrian centre, which is what I would recommend as she'll be surrounded by others her age, I think she'll find the guest house very comfortable, fun and active. The Dunraven Arms hotel in Adare is lovely to be sure, but for a college student, she won't find any others her age dining or staying there and as such, might get somewhat lonely. But to be clear - it is an AMAZING hotel - very lovely with much attention to detail.
Dan and Sue Foley and their staff are exceptional, both in terms of being able to challenge every level of rider but also for their wonderful and warm personalities. They have an ample stable of fine horses so your daughter can have a selection of options each day.
I do not know for a fact, but if you are considering Calliaghstown Riding Centre outside of Dublin, you may want to contact them directly. There was a rumor they were closing - but it may be just a rumor. I have ridden and stayed in Rathcoole as well, so if that program is of interest, let me know and I'll be glad to give you additional info. There are no accommodations on the facility grounds itself.
Another option that she may like is at the Yorkshire Riding Centre in England. She can train with Christopher Bartle (the coach of the German Eventing Team) or his sister Jane Bartle-Wilson (an Olympic competitor herself). They too have a website and can be contacted.
If you would like more specific info on any of these places, I am happy to help in whatever way I can. I have enjoyed all of them personally but for very different reasons.
Good luck with your gift. And I echo the others - your daughter is a very lucky girl!
Clonshire is great - I have ridden there too. Also check out Crossogue Stud in Co. Tipperary. Rode there and loved it, great hunters, great teachers, lots of fun. I have albums of photos from both Clonshire and Crossogue in my webshots below.
Clonshire has an indoor ring, a sand school, and a cross country course that the horses all know by heart. It is a series of jump combinations that is between 1.5 and 3 ft high. We found this course to be fun, challenging and interesting for a group of eq riders who hadn't ever been out of the ring. I went as part of an IHSA team trip. Crossogue took it one step farther, we really got instruction on how to jump the jumps and found the actual learning to be better as there was more of an instruction focus. Also, Crossogue has a string of steeplechase racehorses that you can watch work in the mornings, which is a unique opportunity.
If I were to do it again, I would go to both, as each has something unique to offer, and it is lovely to see more of the country.
I went to Castle Leslie in July and it was absolutely amazing. One to two hours in the morning either cross country or stadium jumping lesson. Afternoon two hours of cross country jumping. There may be less confidant riders in the group but they just pass on the more difficult lines. I had to pass on one or two myself, they were crazy big! The horses are magnificent. The tack and facility and accommodations are top notch. My only reservation for your daughter is that it was not really a social place at night. I went there by myself (female) and hooked up with a couple of british women and we would have dinner and hang out with a glass of wine at night but it was mostly families and couples there.
I hope to go back in the next year or two. With the Irish economy tanking it might be more economically feasible
Ditto this! I went 8 years ago with my sister but we only did a walk around the estate because it was at the height of hoof and mouth.
And my sister was scared (hadn't ridden since she was a child) so her cob was attached to the guide by a lead rope
I LONG to go back there and play with the horses again!