There’s something mystical about the thought of plodding through a quiet Irish forest, gliding over rolling hills and valleys, galloping across a bog, exploring medieval castles, and splashing in salty ocean waves all while on horseback. It’s a fantasy that most riders, even first-timers, dream of fulfilling.
Why not make your dreams come true and book a riding vacation in Ireland with some of the most well-trained, calm-spirited sporthorses out there? At Cooper’s Hill Equine, nestled in the beautiful countryside of Castlegar, and just a mile outside of charming Galway City, this is exactly what you can expect.
About Cooper’s Hill Equine
Cooper’s Hill Equine is a family-run livery stable and equestrian center home to about 40 expertly-trained, athletic and extremely well-mannered horses that owner and operator James Tonery has personally trained himself, forging a unique bond. James can take the wildest horse and, with kindness, can persuade it to perform a job and to be the best partner possible.
“It is this bond and trust that allows us to do what we do,” notes Tonery. ““I know the exact personalities of these horses, so I can build the perfect match of horse and rider, no matter your experience level or interests. We take the horses and visiting riders out on some very busy city roads, jumping five-foot dry stone walls while hunting, even into the wildest ocean waves on some extremely busy days.”
These feats can only be achieved because Tonery has taken the time to foster trust. “Each horse has been brought to their job with such kindness that they love work and will always do their job to the best of their ability.”
In recognition for their top-quality service and excellent rides, Cooper’s Hill Equine has received many exclusive awards, including the Luxury Travel Guide 2017 Holiday & Tour Specialist Awards and the Certificate of Excellent from Trip Advisor.
But the awards are not by accident. James explains, “Everyone at Cooper’s Hill Equine has a gra (Gaelic for love) and passion for their work. It is obvious once you meet us. Our enthusiasm for what we do is infectious, and helps to create an environment of safety, wonder, and joy. Everything we do is about making the visitor happy, creating life-long, glorious memories of their trip to Ireland.”
Whether you’re in Ireland and looking for a beautiful, relaxing day-ride, or you and a group of friends and family are planning a week-long trip to the Irish countryside, Cooper’s Hill Equine has the perfect horse trek for you.
One of the factors working in Cooper’s Hill’s favor is their unique location. They are on the outskirts of Galway City, on the West Coast of Ireland., a mere 2 km from the heart of this thriving tourist city, the capital of the West of Ireland, and the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, which is the longest continuous coastal tourist route in Europe.
Cooper’s Hill Equine is fortunate to be able to enjoy the convenience of the city life and culture with a more rural, relaxing and slower pace of country life. They can take riders through their city on horseback or down secret country lanes that very few people, even the locals, would know about.
Just a few of some of the most popular rides include:
- The Haunted Castle Ride to Cloonacauneen Castle, which winds through the countryside and bogland to the medieval castle, where riders can stop and explore the interior and enjoy a drink before heading back out.
- The Burren Ride into the west coast of Ireland, where beautiful topographical features like limestone formations, orchids and barren rocks provide a beautiful backdrop to the spectacular views of Galway Bay from the Burren Mountains.
- The Beach Ride starts with a 20-minute hack out from the barn to the beach, where there is an opportunity to canter along the shore line and into the water if the tide is out.
- Countryside Trek perfect for riders who are not very experienced, and also a great option for families.
- Charity Hunts provide an excellent opportunity for the more experienced rider to participate in a fun, exciting ride with a great cause.
Kick Back and Relax in Galway City
Once you’ve finished riding for the day, you can head over to Galway City and get a taste for the region’s vibrant history and culture. Check out local music venues, restaurants, and cheeseries, take a popular whiskey trail tour, or enjoy local crafts in the bustling city center on a Saturday.
You can even expand your vacation to include a daytrip to nearby Connemara or the Aran Islands, then get back to horse riding the next day.
Build Lasting Bonds
Perhaps one of the most rewarding things about riding with Cooper’s Hill Equine is the unique opportunity to form lasting friendships and bonds with not only the horses, but also the people. “This is your time and it’s our job to make the time you spend with us special and just what you wanted. I always find that people first come to us as clients,” says James, “but by the end of the ride, they leave as a friend. It’s truly a bonding experience for everyone.”
So, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Ireland or are searching for the perfect horse riding holiday, you’ve got to check out Cooper’s Hill Equine in Castlegar and spend some time with the horses there. Whether you’ve been riding for one day or your entire life, you will leave with a different understanding of and new appreciation for Irish horses, and we’ll wager – even some new friends.
Article by Gabrielle Pastorek, a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. She holds her MFA in fiction from the University of Pittsburgh, and her creative works can be found in Blue Monday Review, Blotterature, Dappled Things, and others. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her Appaloosa, Lucy.