The Best Irish Horse Riding Holidays and Trail Rides
Picture this… Miles upon miles of forest traversed by well-worn trails…rolling hills with acres upon acres of springy soft soil and lush green grass, scattered with natural obstacles and expertly built cross-country fences…or perhaps you are more of a beach person? If so, long stretches of white sand lapped by blue Atlantic Ocean and easily accessible by foot or hoof will not disappoint.
When it comes to horse riding adventures, Ireland has it all…
One of the first questions we here at Stable Mates are asked is where are the best places to go and how do I find a centre that will accommodate my level of riding experience? And we know from our experience that whether you are a complete beginner, an enthusiastic novice or a confirmed horse riding addict, there is a tantalising choice of destinations, riding activities and scenic backdrops within the island of Ireland to choose from.
Below we share with you some of our favourite equestrian destinations in Ireland. We are sure that when you take the opportunity to visit Ireland that you will love them as much as we do.
Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, Castle Leslie Estate is “one of Europe’s finest equestrian playgrounds.”
Located in the picturesque County of Monaghan, just 80 minutes from Dublin airport and 60 minutes from Belfast airport, Castle Leslie is a must for any equestrian traveller looking to combine equestrian adventure with luxurious accommodation, a historical setting and superb food and hospitality.
Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish Castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. Since the 1660s, the distinguished and somewhat individual Leslie family has lived on the Castle Estate, welcoming people from all over the world through its great Castle doors.
The vast estate is dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes and is waiting to be explored from the vantage point of a trusty Irish horse. With superb facilities that include an impressive courtyard stable yard, indoor and outdoor arenas, an inviting cross country track, miles of forest trails and acres of lush green pasture, the most difficult decision for equestrian enthusiasts will be what type of activity to enjoy first.
Whether you dream of an exhilarating cross-country ride, a leisurely trail ride through beautiful scenic landscapes or would like to benefit from some expert tuition, Castle Leslie will make your Irish riding holiday one to remember.
Set in the beautiful countryside of Castlegar, Galway on the west coast of Ireland, Cooper’s Hill is a family run livery yard and equestrian centre. But more than that, the team at Cooper’s Hill epitomise the warm Irish attitude, deep with humour and wit that the Irish are renowned for.
The west of Ireland is fringed by a dramatic, rugged coastline with many islands, peninsulas, headlands and bays and Cooper’s Hill has access to some of the best local amenities. You can enjoy hacks to local beaches, off shore to islands, through the winding countryside to haunted castles and across ancient bog roads.
Trekking in the heart of the Burren region on the Wild Atlantic Way is an experience that is on many a bucket list and will be an experience you will never forget.
Or you could choose to take on cross country courses, organise Hunt Clinics or spend a day hunting with local hunts, with a trusty Irish horse and its legendary ‘fifth leg’ as your partner. When you go on an adventure with the team at Cooper’s Hill you will be made to feel one of the family and we’re sure that you’ll want to visit again and again.
Hollywood Horse Trekking Centre is a family run stables set in the heart of the dramatic, timeless, unspoilt scenery that is the Wicklow mountains, well placed on the east of the country and located little over an hour from Dublin airport.
Wicklow is known as the “Garden of Ireland” and for good reason. From mountains to sea, Wicklow’s landscape is captivating: dramatic cliffs, soft sandy beaches, rolling mountains, hidden lakes and lush green pasture dotted with quaint, friendly villages.
The Maguire farm runs along the Kings River on the lower side, while on the higher side rust coloured bogs and granite stone wall framed fields place Hollywood in a landscape of extraordinary beauty.
Experienced or novice riders alike can enjoy riding out over this hidden landscape which follows St. Kevin’s way – the ancient pilgrim walk leading to Glendalough (a spectacular 6th Century monastic site), guided by local instructors with extensive knowledge of local history and nature.
You can ride through sandy bottomed rivers or gallop along awe-inspiring forest treks and hill routes, where the soft peaceful sounds of nature are mixed in with the steady rhythm of hooves. An unforgettable experience.
No feature on where to ride in Ireland would be complete without a mention of Willie Leahy in Connemara, a quintessential Irish horsemen and his superb Connemara Trails. Willie was the first man to lead a vacation trail ride, anywhere in the world, he is the largest breeder of Connemara ponies in the world, and is also the Field Master of the famous Galway Blazers Hunt! So, he knows a thing or two about horses.
For over 30 years the Leahy family have introduced visitors to this very special part of Ireland which is famed for its spectacular scenery. A region of contrasting landscapes, in Connemara dramatic mountains, silent lakes and rust coloured bogs are bordered by the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and a visit to the area will quite simply take your breath away.
A wilderness of extraordinary beauty, the Connemara Trails bring riders right into the hidden heart of this spectacular landscape and the friendly care always on offer from the Leahy family ensures that every rider goes home with special memories of a wonderful holiday. For those wanted to experience the rugged beauty of Ireland at its very best, this is absolutely not to be missed.
Written by Jenny Doran. Jenny is MD of Irish equestrian marketing agency Halcyon Days and the power behind HorsePlay.ie – Ireland’s online equestrian resource. A confirmed ‘horsey geek’ with a passion for marketing and all things tech, Jenny lives in Dublin with her six (soon to be seven) horses, her long suffering non-horsey husband and several spoilt cats.