Ireland has a long history with the horse, so it’s no surprise to find horses, and horse-like creatures, in Irish mythology. The Capaill Uisce, pronounced ‘copple ooshka,’ is a mythological water horse that lives in the lochs, rivers, and oceans surrounding Ireland.
They’re similar to the Kelpie, a more common mythological water horse. The Capaill Uisce are carnivorous demons that typically take the form of a sleek and powerful black horse. Some variations on the myth even say they have a mane of serpents. These horses sound like something you’d want to stay away from, and you probably should, but if you’re a brave enough rider, you can try.
The trick is to find one out of water and slip a halter marked with a cross on his head. You’ll be able to lead him away, but be careful. If you choose to saddle up and ride the Capaill Uisce too close to water, they may take you home with them.
Stable Mates may not be help you find a Capaill Uisce to ride, but we do have the next best thing – an adventurous horse trek for you that includes riding in a river and spectacular landscapes in the gorgeous mountains not far from Dublin.
Hollywood Horse and Pony Trekking
“The business is about the love of horse and the enjoyment of the nature, which is all around us in what is known as the Garden of Ireland.”
I had the chance to speak with Ray Fisher of Hollywood Horse and Pony Trekking, who runs the stable alongside the Maguire family, in Hollywood, County Wicklow. Hollywood Trekking is a family run farm tucked into the side of Wicklow Mountain.
The Maguire’s have six daughters, all horse lovers, of course, who acted as the catalyst for Hollywood Trekking. They would ride on weekends and holidays, sometimes bringing their friends along, to explore Wicklow Mountain – part of the largest National Park in Ireland – and spend time on horseback. These treks became the genesis of Hollywood Trekking. They are now in their third year of business, and going strong.
Even if you’ve never been on a horse, but would love to experience Ireland from the back of one (and is there a better way to explore the Emerald Isle?), then, you’re in luck! Hollywood offers treks for all riding abilities. They provide basic instruction in their riding school prior to the trek, and the trail rides are guided by experienced – and highly-entertaining – local instructors.
One, two, and three hour rides are available. Hollywood has predominantly Irish hunters and Connemara ponies, breeds native to Ireland, making them well adapted to the terrain, and more than appropriate to experience Ireland on. These sure-footed horses and ponies will leave you free to soak up the views. There are opportunities for riding up the hills, fast-paced gallops – truly something for everyone at Hollywood Trekking.
Hollywood’s guides have extensive knowledge of the history and terrain where you’ll be riding. Listen to them tell you about St. Kevin’s Way, an ancient pilgrim walk leading to Glendalough, while you ride past rust-coloured bogs and granite wall-framed fields.
Get your blood pumping with a gallop in the forest, and then enjoy a two kilometer ride in King’s River. If you keep an eye out, you may find yourself a Capaill Uisce after all.
Hollywood Trekking values the beauty surrounding them and the joy of horseback riding. You’ll enjoy a warm welcome, an unforgettable ride through dramatic scenery, and of course, what it’s all about – the amazing Irish horses…
For more information about Hollywood Horse and Pony Trekking in County Wicklow, please CLICK HERE.
Article by Jessi Trafton