Lina – travel writer & photographer for Divergen Travel
I had the wonderful privilege to ride with Dingle Horse Riding for a 6 day Riding Holiday in July 2018. Having wanted to take a cross country riding trek for as long as I’ve been riding–this holiday exceeded my expectations and fulfilled every wish, from galloping on the beach to trotting through small Irish towns and riding into the ocean on horseback! I had the time of my life!In researching the MANY stables that offer riding holidays in Ireland (I think I must have looked at something like 30 options), I finally chose this one for the following reasons: 1) Small riding group–5 riders or less 2) Actual ‘point to point’ ride for 3 days of the week, riding to different locations and staying in new lodging 3) Dingle Peninsula–some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland 4) the ride offered multiple days with beach gallops, but also the opportunity to ride through Conor Pass in a mountainous area and through many scenic towns. 5) The horses looked very well cared for, as did the tack.
After only Day 1 of our holiday–which is the Shamrock ride followed by the Beach Ride (a great start to get to know your horse), I was in riding heaven, and knew the week would be absolutely fabulous! I was paired with the most wonderful Irish Sport Horse, Cookie. I was also given the option to switch to a feisty Connemara if I felt I wanted more of a challenge. However, I fell in love with Cookie, she had lovely gaits, a great gallop on the beach, and was nice and steady on the trails and roads, allowing me to enjoy and take pictures and look at the scenery. Plus she was tall, cute, and dapple gray! If you have never ridden an Irish horse before, you are in for a treat–they are the most wonderful strong, brave, and tough horses, with wonderful minds. We could go for a full out gallop, but then she was happy to walk along relaxed in the ocean, no jigging or dancing like many hot blooded TBs and others will do once they get excited. And then we could pick up a nice canter next if we liked, or gallop again–such great rideability!
There were simply too many great moments to state all of them, but highlights were definitely the full day of beach riding on Day 3, riding across Conor Pass via Mt. Brandon on Day 2, and of course, the final ride in the Inch Dunes and on Inch Beach on Day 6. Cantering in the dunes, riding down slopes so steep you can’t even imagine, and then galloping away down the beach–like Arabian Nights in Ireland, indescribable! Oh, and we had the most stunning weather to match-how incredibly lucky to have blue sky and sunshine to look across out over Conor Pass and enjoy the beautiful beaches! There were some times of rain and mist of course, but for the most part, we lucked out weather wise, which I’m told is unusual for July!
Susan, and all of the guides, Anne, Maja, Louise, Sophie, and Eric, were all superb–professional and safety conscious, but allowing us to enjoy our horses and providing great conversation. I felt very welcomed by everyone for the entire week!
As many other reviewers have already stated, the beach rides, and therefore the riding holidays, are for advanced riders only and you must be riding fit! Although I don’t currently have a horse, I made sure to be riding 3 times a week for 3-4 months before my trip. As I don’t have access to trails at home right now, I did a lot of work without stirrups, and a lot of work in 2 point at canter, as well as some jumping for good measure–it paid off as I wasn’t any more then lightly sore during the whole week of intensive riding. In addition, I’ve ridden extensively out on trails/fields previously at all gaits–if you’ve never ridden outside of an arena or cantered and galloped in the open, this ride will be very challenging. In Ireland you RIDE–the horses are forward going and brave–where in America, we often are holding our horses back and being cautious. There is none of that here–if you are experienced, you will ride like the wind and have the time of your life! The mare provided for test rides is a perfect gauge; if you cannot handle a strong, forward horse in an arena, you will not be able to handle an excited horse on a beach gallop. The provided riding holiday itinerary and riding level descriptions on the website are very accurate.
If you are debating which riding holiday to take in Ireland, you have found it right here! I hope to return again sooner then later!
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