Travel is all about getting new perspectives – one thing you most certainly get from the back of a horse. Colette Anhold from Adventure on Horseback has a good idea about what may attract the uninitiated into the saddle in Ireland: “On horseback you reach remote, isolated areas not possible by bike or car and difficult by foot.
“You get into the heart of the scenery. And then with beach riding, you have the sound of galloping hooves on sand, the power and speed of the horse and that wide open space.”
Watertop Farm in the Glens of Antrim is just how city kids imagine the countryside: animals sneaking heads over wooden fences looking for that delicious bit of grass; not another house in sight and a patchwork of green and auburn fields.
For Terry McBride, who runs the farm with his wife Pasty, Watertop is “The mini-glens of Antrim.” And yes, it looks pretty. But why go horse riding there?
“Horse riding in the Glens is unlike anywhere else in Ireland. We have the waterfalls, the hills and, of course, the scenery.”
For some of us, though, there’s a shiver of nerves at the idea of allowing that great big beast to decide where and, more importantly, how fast we’re going.
Let your trusty steed guide you
According to Terry, “Visitors find pony trekking a great experience. There’s a feeling of trepidation as you climb onto your horse and then a feeling of trust between you and it. There is also a sense of achievement if you’ve never ridden before. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the thrill and expectation of riding here.”
And while the humps and bumps of Armagh’s glens might attract the more devil-may-care first timers, the saddle sore may yearn for something a little flatter.
In County Kilkenny, country house hotel Mount Juliet has fields that flow right out into the horizon. It’s here, along the broad, prairie spread of the Mount Juliet estate, where horse riding takes its time.
For Tara Monahan of Mount Juliet’s equestrian centre, surrounds like this are ideal: “We’re blessed here with our surroundings; 1500 acres of countryside with a history steeped with horses.
“Every turn brings a new view and I personally think everything looks better from horseback!”
Now this is what we call getting a new perspective!