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Hunts in Ireland (Update Nov 24)

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  • Hunts in Ireland (Update Nov 24)

    I'm sure this topic has been done to death (so my apologies up front), but I wanted to come to the experts for more information! Dad and I have been talking about a trip to Ireland for years, and we've finally decided to stop just talking and actually do it! I truly hope I don't come across as ridiculously naieve with this post, but here goes...

    First, some background information. Dad is just over 60, and has been riding his entire life, although he's slowed down a bit lately. He has done big jumper stuff in the past, started babies, and has hunted a little bit in the dark ages. Currently he does A/A Hunters with his lovely mare.

    I am 27, and also have ridden my entire life. I've started youngsters, and ride low level jumpers as well as show hunters. I went out once on a staff day with the Fox River Valley/Cornwall hounds in Illinois and had a fantastic time! Both Dad and I are comfortable riding cross country and have done several hunter paces on our own horses. I will readily admit though that I have never ridden over what I've seen in pictures from some of the Irish hunts!

    Ideally, we'd like to find somewhere that has a riding school type facility attached to it... If possible, we'd maybe like to ride in the ring and over a cross country course to get a feel for what we might ride and jump before heading out on a hunt. Both of us also agree that if we got over there and were informed that we're hopeless and it would be life threatening to try to hunt, we're okay with that. We'd rather come back in one piece than let our pride get the best of us!

    Our plan is to try to get out with some hunts here on our side of the pond before taking on Ireland, for sure. We've been offered the chance to ride with some hunts here in Ontario, as well as a few in the US, and would like to take those opportunities, if at all possible. It'll knock the rust off Dad, and give me a chance to try "real" hunting as opposed to a staff day.

    We sat down today with a huntsman friend of ours, who gave us a list of hunts he would suggest. I'd appreciate any input on the list that anyone may have. Also, if any of the hunts are over much wire or are really rough going, I'd really like to know - neither Dad nor I have any real desire to jump wire, on our own horses or hires.

    I've been to the Hunting Association of Ireland website, which is a wonderful resource, but was hoping for some more insight if possible! Also, what time of year would be best to try to go? Ideally, we'd prefer mid-October to spring, as that's the best time for us to be away from home, but are open to any and all suggestions. We were told we'd be best to avoid the heavier going in Central Ireland, and the rockier parts of Northern Ireland to have the best riding. Is this consistent with what others have experienced?

    Without further ado, here's the list so far. Thank you so much in advance for any input!

    Black & Tans
    Carlow Farmers
    Co Clare
    Co Limerick
    Galloway Blazers
    North Tipperary
    Last edited by Small Change; Nov. 24, 2011, 09:57 AM.

  • #2
    I've been out with the Blazers, the North Tipps and the Ormond and only ever jumped 2 wire fences in total. My partner hunted all the time with the Duhallow and his brother hunts the Co. Clare hounds. Will check with him when he gets in (he's out pre-season hunting with our hounds at the moment) and find out what I can. He has hunted extensively in Ireland (having lived there most of his life!). I loved it, but found it a lot slower than hunting here as the paddocks tend to be much smaller, and wetter!!! Jumping their drains gave me the willies at first, but their horses know the job inside out so you really just need to sit up and hold on and let the horses sort themselves out. You'll have a ball over there =)
    "A babbler amongst the followers of a pack of hounds is just as great an evil as a babbler in the pack" The Complete Foxhunter 1908


    • Original Poster

      Thanks so much, otterhound. What you said about the horses is consistent with what I've heard - that they certainly know their job and take care of nervous passengers until the riders hit their stride (which is quite comforting!). It's really nice to hear there isn't much wire in the hunt country we're considering too.

      I've thought of a few more questions since my original post. Does anyone know which of the hunts I listed have hires available? Obviously we're not making the trip with our Canadian horses! Also, what sort of attire is expected for visitors? Neither Dad nor I have dress boots (we both have very nice field boots though), nor a proper hunting kit. Is that a problem? And what attire is expected for soggy weather?


      • Original Poster

        No one has anymore input? I was really hoping for some more advice or suggestions. Is there a better place to be asking these questions, perhaps on a British board?

        On a side note, I discovered helmet cam videos on YouTube for a number of the hunts I mentioned in my OP. Lots of fun to watch, and a neat way to get an idea of the country they ride over!


        • #5
          Perhaps the Horse and Hounds forums could help you:

          Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



          • Original Poster

            Perfect. Thank you!


            • #7
              I went on a trip with http://www.aille-cross.com/index.htm It was awesome! We rode cross country for 3 or 4 days twice a day and then I went Hunting with the Galway Blazers. I would call it the trip of a lifetime, but I'm really hoping to go again! The horses were amazing. I had not been back riding long after a break for college and grad school, so I needed the saints they provided me with. The hunting was definitely eye opening to say the least, but I think it would have been much more comfortable if I had done it a few years later when I was riding more regularly.

              That is the only one I have hunted with (despite living in Ireland for 2 years, but I was focused on college and didn't have the resources to ride then.)

              I really hope I can go back someday!


              • #8
                I've been away working at yearling sales for a week so never got back to you - oops! =) What else would you like to know, now that I can ask the other half? Field boots are quite acceptable, and the dress code over there tends to be more lenient than in England, for example. I rode in a borrowed jacket, long boots, light coloured breeches, stock and black velvet riding hat, and didn't feel out of place at all.
                "A babbler amongst the followers of a pack of hounds is just as great an evil as a babbler in the pack" The Complete Foxhunter 1908


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks so much. What is acceptable to wear for hunting in the rain? I'm sure I'll be back with more questions later, but thanks again for all the information to get me started!


                  • #10
                    I've gone out with both Limerick and the Blazers. If you hunt with Limerick, it will likely be banks and ditches...the Blazers more stone walls...but anything is possible. If you get a hold of Louie Murphy at the Dunraven Arms Hotel, he can set up a hunt package for you, including horses for hire...and Clonshire Equestrian Center is close by for schooling/lessons cross country. That's the way I did it, and it was an excellent experience. The instructor at Clonshire stuck me on a sweet elderly gray schoolie for a short round in the ring, and decided within minutes to upgrade me to a lovely Irish hunter...a big chestnut with chrome named Barter. Rode him cross country and he was a wonderful ride. The mare I hunted was a stout bay named Cool, and she was also a wonderful ride...very steady and brave.
                    And if you get to a bank and ditch that looks scary, you can always do what I did...wait for your turn to jump, point the horse in the right direction, grab mane, close your eyes and kick on. ;-)

                    Attire isn't a big deal...I threw a Barbour over my regular hunt clothes. Oh...and if you stay at the Dunraven Arms, they'll take your post-hunt, mud encrusted boots overnite and return them the next morning, cleaned and ready for the next round. I did get spoiled. ;-)
                    "Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them."
                    -Richard S. Bach


                    • Original Poster

                      Unfforgettable - Thanks so much for posting! That sounds exactly like the sort of holiday we're looking for, and it's great to have a contact name.


                      • Original Poster

                        An update! Dad and I are booked to go to Ireland mid-November (yes, I'm prepared for soggy weather) to do the Aille Cross adventure 4Martini posted about! Our plan is to ride cross country for the first few days 'til we're used to the horses, and as long as our hosts don't think we'll commit suicide by horse, we'll try hunting with the Blazers towards the end of our stay! I am so excited, and delighted that I get to share this adventure with Dad as well.


                        • #13
                          Small Change - I went twice to Ireland about 12 years ago; first time a cross country, inn to inn ride w/ Willy Leahy, the second time w/ friends to fox hunt. I had never hunted but ride pretty decently. Talked to Willy about hunting and he said I would be fine; gave me a FABULOUS young gelding who took good care of me and was patient waiting his turn to jump. Willy and his family are awesome, and they have great horses. You will have a wonderful time. The hunts were big, and everyone was really friendly; they are not all focused on the "traditions"; just want their guests to have a good time. We started at a pub in the morning, fortified by a hot whiskey; there was periodic flask passing during the course of the day. You will be out a long time but there are breaks while the dogs look for a fox or while one is down a hole. ENJOY!!
                          We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                          • #14
                            Greetings from Ireland Small Change . Ditto to everything Unfforgettable has said, Louie will be able to put a nice package together. Make sure to get out with both the Scarteen (Black and Tans) and the Co. Limerick Foxhounds. Clonshire actually belongs to the Limericks and the hounds are kennelled there.

                            If you check out Flowerhill E.C. http://www.flowerhill.net/index.html, this would be a usefull base for hunting in the west of Ireland. Oliver Walsh owns and runs the center and kennells his own pack of hounds there, the Co. Roscommon. He can supply horses and organise a day out for you with the Galway Blazers, which is a must, along with a day out with his own pack.

                            Mount Juliet http://www.mountjuliet.ie/ is a good base for a day out with the Killkenny Foxhounds and they can organise a day out hunting with them. the Hounds are also kennelled there in a quiet corner on the estate.


                            • #15
                              Trip Insurance?

                              Small Change... my husband and I are also booked to ride with Aille Cross but in September so will will be riding the Connamara Coast Trail. We are traveling to early in the year to hunt. I was wondering if you asked about trip insurance? I insured my airfare but, to be honest, I didn't think about the riding part of our vacation and have been thinking I should. Would hate to have an irruption in Iceland or something spoil our fun.
                              "pack in!"


                              • Original Poster

                                2tempe - Thanks for the post! It's nice to hear you had such a good time and they were so hospitable. I just hope I don't feel compelled to pack whichever horse I'm loaned in by suitcase at the end of our stay!

                                KevMc - Thank you, too. We're so looking forward to it, and the more I hear, the more excited I get!

                                Maple Meadows - I think a lot of our trip is covered, insurance-wise, by the credit card we booked with. I hope you have a fabulous time, and would love to hear about it since you're going so close to when we're heading over too.


                                • #17
                                  I also recommend Clonshire. You can arrange hunting with them and they also have a cross country course and schooling on their lovely grounds. They have really nice horses and Sue Foley, who runs it, is super sweet and knowledgable. We stayed at the Dunraven Arms just nearby in Adare and it is a great, horsey old hotel.


                                  • #18
                                    Maple Meadows, please consult your credit card and travel booking companies regarding your travel insurance and make sure you are covered 100% for cancellation, medical stuff, theft, airline incompetence...

                                    Cancellation and Medical Insurance are really important. I travelled with a friend for four months in SE Asia, and our $400 travel insurance paid for itself in the first two weeks. I'm typically protected by luck and coincidence, my friend who is far more practical, reliable and responsible is the one who insisted on insurance. We were BOTH happy when the insurance allowed her to easily access a doctor to solve a skin thing she picked up in Bali AND when the insurance covered the expenses inolved with replacing her passport in the middle of the Thar Desert during the great flooding of '06. She lost her passport while we were riding horses...
                                    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                                    • #19
                                      Oops, came too late to this, but can't really add to what has been said already. I was also going to recommend Flowerhill and Clonshire for the chance to do some cross country riding beforehand.
                                      Chris Ryan who hunts the Scarteen is an amazing horseman and a mine of information and has some fabulous horses(McKinleigh came from him. ).


                                      • #20
                                        All I've ever heard is that they are way scary. That said, I have a wonderful ISH that hunted in Ireland, was taught dressage at 7 is a wonderful boy for me. Love the horses! Good luck. Love to hear how it went.

                                        You might want to see if the MFHA has a forum?