Horseback Riding Vacations at the Horse Holiday Farm

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This is certainly a many-sided subject but here we only want to deal with the medical application of alcohol for horse care. If there are signs of saddle sore or tender areas, the saddle area is disinfected with alcohol [sprays are available in the stables]. Then the tender areas and bruises are treated with an ointment before the saddle blanket is put on for saddling up. Therefore, an alcohol spray should be included in the luggage of every trail group.

Markings on the trail. They do not always correspond to the route marked up on the map. Therefore, you have a choice sometimes and must decide. Since the markings can be overlooked or may have disappeared in the meantime [new asphalt on the road, cut tree] you should always follow the routes on the map. This reduces the risk of losing your way.

Some minor country roads in Ireland are asphalt, where possible, the grass verge should be used. The rule for riding on asphalt is; never gallop. Every now and again, a rising trot is useful for both horse and rider to cover some of the distance at a faster pace for a change.

String of blue plastic. Every farmer has it in order to tie bales of hay or similar things with it. It can help save you a lot of trouble. It can be used for almost all occasions when you have to lead your horse, or when you want to tether it for a short time. It is used as a kind of intermediate safety implement which, in panic situations, just gives way more quickly than a classic halter rope, and anyone having problems keeping his trousers up can turn it into a "fashionable" belt.

Bandaging is a question of practice. Anyone who goes on a trail should make himself familiar with the most important bandaging techniques because sometimes the application of a bandage may be necessary. Special attention should be paid to the fact that a bright bandage on the foreleg may frighten some horses. Every time they step forward something will appear underneath them - just on the edge of their field of vision. This can easily cause panic. So, before you allow a horse to go on the field wearing a bandage, you should walk a few steps with it to test its reaction.

Barry's Pub
One of the three pubs in Grange. Just Barry's. Here you can relax during a longer hack with a pint of Guinness or a coke or anything else. The sandwiches are freshly made and filled with fresh salmon and other tasty things, just as you wish. Even the horses are taken care of. A field behind the pub offers fresh grass. If you would like to give the horses a proper break at the same time, they are unsaddled. Utensils for re-saddling can be found in the garage. If it is locked, just ask Barry and it will be opened.
In the evening it is particularly worthwhile to drop in on Barry's because half the village meets there. At weekends live music is played in the saloon and you can enjoy the ever popular dancing. Quality of the musicians; quite varied.

"Race course" for all horses of Horse Holiday Farm. As soon as the animals feel the sand under their feet they are transformed and behave more lively, fresher and more sparkling than ever. After many years of training, the animals are used to taking off. Mostly, they are quite successful with this; the riders shout and cheer with pleasure and encourage their horses even more. It should be avoided, however, to gallop into the water. It is important not to gallop over too long distances. You can always start off again after a short breather.
Ben Bulben or Benbulben
Widely visible is the symbol of Sligo County. It is the farm's own mountain. Although it is only 340 metres high the bizarre Table Mountain looks almost like a mountain range. It calls the rock structures of the American Monument Valley to mind. The slopes are steep and are pointed in the direction of Sligo so that they look like a ship's bow. In bad weather the mountain disappears in the fog as though it had never existed. Ben Bulben is one of Ireland's most climbed mountains. With the horse, however, the plateau cannot be reached.

The use of blankets which belong under the felt and saddle is a special art. The blankets should be as dry as possible when they are put on, i.e. after every ride and after a day on the trail they must be well aired and dried. All possible sunshine and dry wind should be used. For saddling up they are folded three times, straightened carefully and put on the horses back with the closed end to the front. Attention'. This is really the first hurdle of all your preparations before you start. Blankets that have become unfolded during the first or second gallop or are pulled out of shape or even crumple under the saddle have been folded or put on completely incorrectly. If the blanket slips or bulges out on the way, this definitely means; "re-saddle"

Blue Spray
For injuries, especially on the legs, the Blue Spray is an indispensable remedy. It disinfects wounds and accelerates the healing process. Unfortunately, the horses are so far not convinced of the advantages of a spray. They shy away from the cold sensation and they are frightened by the peculiar noise, or - something observed especially with white horses - they do not find the bright colour very pleasing. So far, it has not been determined whether this might be some sort of environmentally motivated protest. In short: you must be prepared for the horse to try to prevent this medical interference with enraged kicks. In such a case only the rider's authority will help.

Practical device to be used for removing boots. At the farm there are plenty, during a trail you may miss them. If you wear tight-fitting boots, you should ask one of your fellow riders to release you from your footwear with a practised grip. Or you should carry a considerably more patient bootjack with you.

The rider's stepping tool. Boots protect foot and calf. Sandals, trainers or street shoes do not offer sufficient protection. If a horse has ever stood on your toes, you will know what it means. Another advantage of proper riding boots; they are shaped in a way that you have a good hold in the stirrups and that in case of an emergency you can easily pull out of the stirrups. In case of involuntary dismounting the treaded soles of trainers may lead to an unpleasant surprise.

Bridle is the collective term for snaffle bit, chin strap, curb rein and reins. After every ride all the bridle should be carefully cleaned. Wash the bit with water. At the farm the bridle is always neatly hung up in the tack room. Bridle, saddle, halter and brushes are provided with a number belonging to a particular horse. This is the only way to keep the stables in order. It requires, however, that the rider always put everything back in its place.

A tiny village near Sligo. This is one of the areas you reach on the Sligo trail. You should definitely use the opportunity here to visit the largest Stone Age cemetery in Ireland. A total of 40 dolmen, vault graves and megalithic graves are available for visiting and exploring.

In Ireland the clocks run slightly different. It is not just that people take more time with everything; as compared to continental time the clocks in Ireland are an hour behind.

With all the different kinds of weather in Ireland, suitable clothing is the be-all and end-all. Since it is possible in case of hot sunshine to get undressed and shed clothes down to the vest or T-shirt, the main difficulty is in increased humidity which every now and then finds expression in rain. The only thing, which can be recommended with confidence as a protection against the rain, is a coat of waxed cotton. Even if it pours down with rain, with this protection you will be immune to such rigours. The coat is so wide that it also covers up the luggage bags, which are thus well protected. It
Is also possible to have a combination of a waxed jacket and waxed trousers, which can be put over the usual jeans or beeches.

A coat of waxed cotton [can be purchased at the farm at a reasonable price] is a safe thing. If it rains heavily on a trail ride or if there is a real downpour these coats offer the only effective protection. Conventional anoraks or Macs are sometimes soaking wet after a very short time. Coats packed into the coat bag, also called "banana" should never be put on while on horseback. These sudden movements and noises easily frighten the horse.

The heart and soul of the farm. Her welcome and goodbye are worth their weight in gold. She masters all requests and demands with calm and circumspection. She gives the service instructions and supervises purchasing. Her mark for all tasks; excellent.

Rides on the beach offer the opportunity to ride the horse into the water. A natural source of water, it cools the legs and the stressed joints. A fine thing for the animals. Should the horses show signs of fatigue or going lame, cooling is the most important medical measure. Half an hour's walk through the seawater or standing in a river for a few minutes sometimes works miracles.

Cross country course
A well-hidden field, a few miles away from the farm, which is equipped with numerous hurdles and is used as a jumping ground. This is where worn-out horses have their well-earned rest and where the farms own breeding mares spend a nice day. All of a sudden you understand why the horses of Horse Holiday Farm are so good-natured and balanced. The jumping course with about 50 man-made hurdles and a few natural hurdles is a tough one. Here a small wall, there a little pond. It is an ideal place to get prepared for the autumn foxhunt. A warning for anyone who is out of practice; it goes without saying that the horses know their course. Sometimes things may really happen here. Then all you can do is; stay firmly in your saddle and try not to bite the dust before the horse.

The Horse Holiday Farm is Bord Fáilte (Irish Tourist Board) approved and
a member of A.I.R.E., the Association of Irish Riding Establishments.

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