Horseback Riding Vacations at the Horse Holiday Farm

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The fastest and for most riders the nicest pace of the horse. It is tempting but make sure that your horse does not over exert itself. For your sake it is sometimes prepared to give more than is actually good for it. Therefore, you should not allow the gallop distances to become too long. After a breather where you should really continue walking so that your
companion does not catch a cold, you and your horse may start again. Subsequently, you should allow your horse sufficient time to settle again. You should walk your horse to dry off.
Gallop is the most important programme for the instinctive flight of the animal; it is life saving so to speak. It can, however, also be dangerous especially if you gallop on the beach into the water, particularly into tideways'. Other dangers are deep sand, hills, rocks and stones. Here stick to the rule: draw the reins in good time, under all circumstances, the rider must think for his horse.
Gallop is preferable on sandy ground for both horse and rider. Also on the beach and on woodland paths. On rock-hard ground, asphalt roads and downhill, gallop is forbidden in principle. No ifs or buts! Not even the strongest legs can bear this.

During rides or trails it happens quite frequently that gates and fences closing a field, paddock or pasture need to be opened. It is absolutely necessary to close them again. This is a task, which requires time and strength. Opening and closing from horseback bears hazards and it is therefore recommended to dismount for this purpose.

The girth should be firmly resting on the horse's belly. Repeated re-tightening is a must! After the first rounds on the sand, the girth is to be re-tightened for the first time; half an hour later the firth should be tightened again by one or two holes. Slipping saddles, blankets and luggage are most unpleasant for the horse and therefore extremely dangerous. In addition, a ride underneath the horses belly is not really a pleasant experience - unless you count yourself as one of the Apaches or Comanches who are said to have taken pleasure in playing hid and seek in this way. When you girth the horse
you should allow it to adjust to girth and saddle. Anyone, who tries after the first tightening, and after having put on the saddle to drive the air out of the horse's lungs by force, just causes unnecessary pain. Your four-legged companion will then use a little trick - it bellies out a bit. In order to adjust the girth to an optimum, you should, after the first tightening of the girth, lift up the left and then the right leg, standing in front of the horse's chest.

Girth area
The rule here is: before and after every ride, the girth area is to be thoroughly cleaned and brushed. Dirt and especially sand my lead to serious injuries due to rubbing. Even a few grains of sand will have the effect of a rasp, or sandpaper under the girth. If bruises, injuries or pressure marks occur in this area these are to be treated with special care. In these cases an ointment is always useful.

Although the horses at Horse Holiday Farm are used to being ridden with long reins, the rider is recommended to wear gloves. This helps to prevent blisters, especially when the drawing of reins - on the beach! - Tends to develop into a small fight with the horse. And just experience the reins being pulled out of your hands a few times with a strong jerk …..

Going lame
The horse may go lame after excessive strain. The horse seems to drag one of its legs. The best way to have this checked is by a fellow rider at a trot. If the finding is positive, only walking will be allowed. Cooling and rest will provide fast relief and healing. During a trail ride this is frequently not possible to a sufficient extent. Depending on the degree of impairment the horse is to be exchanged. A phone call to the farm is always recommended to get advice.

A pub in Cliffoney. The absolute meeting point for the guests staying at Mary's Guesthouse. But also for the guests of the farm it is a worthwhile and pleasant walk or nice evenings ride out. The atmosphere is typically friendly. With a glass of Guinness and a Paddy you will get to know all the latest news of the area, if you take the opportunity to ask, but usually the Irish are quicker and are very keen on hammering you with their questions; "where do you come from".

A small village on the main road from Sligo to Donegal. The farm is situated a few kilometres further north. It is worth mentioning because of its pubs and Crystal Factory, "Sligo Crystal". Anyone who likes cut glass should visit the factory and watch the crystal cutters doing their work.

Depending on demand and interest the farm will organise a guided hack for interested groups. It goes without saying that the special skills of the individual rider are important considerations. If it is your first stay at the farm, or if you wish to develop confidence and feel safe with your horse, you should accept this offer. It is also the quickest way for the guests to get to know interesting trails in the area. The guests who join this group are expected to adopt the practices and the
discipline of the group hack. However, if you wish and if you have enough confidence in yourself, you can "drop out" at any time and find your own way back.

Indispensable aid to fetch the horse from the field and take it back there. And, if you intend to leave the horse for some time together with its saddle, you tie your animal up just using the halter. This also applies at the stables while you are grooming your horse. The bridle must never be used for tying up; it would rip very easily. Some horses hate to be tied up; when they panic they may fight against the rope with incredible strength.
The rope of the halter is to be knotted in a way that it can be released again, ideally with just one pull. The loop is internationally known. Anyone who does not know it should get someone to show it to him. For greater safety it is useful to use a panic hook between halter and rope. If need be, it will be easier for the horses release.

Experience in dressage with your school horse is sometimes of very little use with the horses at the farm. You must adjust to the special way of reacting, which the horses of the farm have learnt during their trail experience. In the sense of classic dressage you will, therefore, see many bad habits but there is no point in complaining; you must learn to communicate with your horse, and make your rules quite clear and in a way redefine them. Before you ride off you should always dedicate some time to training and communication. Watch carefully how your horse reacts to your aids such as legs, reins and whip.

Hard Hat
It should actually be part of the compulsory standard equipment of every rider. It is good, if it never really has to prove its effectiveness. The helmet or hard hat is in this respect similar to the safety belt in the car. The law prescribes its use; but we do not wish anyone to experience the reality of its usefulness. The hat should be worn with a chinstrap or would you prefer to land right on it in case of a fall?

The youngest son of the Anhold family. After a period of time away from riding, he rediscovered his love of horses and now competes very successfully with his horses.

A tool for hoof care. It goes into the service box, which is underneath the respective saddle in the tack room. You should always put it back there. Remember to take it on trail with you.

The horses feet. They should be taken care of every day. Before and after the ride the hooves must be picked out and cleaned. If little stones get stuck in them this may lead to going lame. Pressed-in dung can cause hoof rot. A hoof-pick is used for scraping which is available with its own number in the tack room. In case of longer stays at the farm you can apply a little hoof grease to the hoof once a day.

The main thing at Horse Holiday Farm. Not a piece of sports equipment but a living creature with its own individual character and ever varying moods and condition. The challenge for the rider is to communicate with his horse. To make this possible every guest has his "own" horse for the period of his stay and is responsible for its well being.
The horses at Horse Holiday Farm distinguish themselves by their good naturedness, stamina and impressive tread-safety. The rider can rely on this. The horses are ridden with long reins rather than short reins. This may be in contradiction to dressage experience gained at conventional riding schools, but here the animals must have the opportunity of convincing themselves whether or not a path is safe for walking on. On the beach they usually become even livelier, they are used to being allowed to gallop boisterously here. When doing so they can develop a surprising speed. But make sure that the gallop distances are kept short.
In the first few day's people tend to make the mistake of drawing in the reins too much. After many years of experience, this is an unmistakable sign for the horse that the rider is afraid [afraid of what?] This results in a vicious circle; Drawn-in reins means to the horse: Attention! Lets get moving! Consequently, it prepares itself for this and tenses the muscles and perhaps it even starts to dance around excitedly. Quite a few riders become really frightened and think: Good heavens-we'll be off in a moment! And draw in the reins even more. It is easy to imagine what the horse thinks; fine.
I can soon set off like greased lightening. And you can bet that it will soon do so.
Horses distinguish themselves by some clear behaviour patterns, which the rider should take into consideration when he deals with them :- Horses are escape animals who react or may react with a panic stricken flight to any danger or imagined threat. So actually this powerful animal is just a very sensitive "scaredy - cat". Every animal has its own sensitivity and reacts individually: one animal may take to its heels if it sees a white plastic bag lurking behind a bush, whereas another one storms off as soon as a red car comes along, ignoring, however, all other car colours.
-Horses only reacts with aggression if they feel driven into a corner or if they cannot use their "escape" pattern to get away.
-Horses bite and kick if they feel ill treated, threatened or if they are suddenly surprised "from behind" or if they are in a struggle for power.
-Horses are gregarious animals and are happiest when they are in their herd or in company [for instance yours]. If a horse is separated from its herd in certain situations it becomes frightened. If a horse is held back in a group when all the others are galloping away it may do all sorts of things [rear, kick, arch its back] in order to be with the others. It will only allow you to hold it back, if it has trust in you and if you are really the boss.
-Horses need an order of rank in their herd [which also includes you in case of doubt] and they challenge this order again and again by fighting and playing games. Only the animal of higher rank has a say and enjoys the other animal's confidence. As the rider you must make your horse feel that you are the strongest - even if you may soon turn out to be just a paper tiger. This is the only way to ensure its submission and gain its confidence.
After a friendly welcome in the morning, just press its head gently to the side a few times, or perhaps make yourself "bigger" by approaching your horse with yours lifted up and your hands directed towards it, but without frightening it. The reaction will soon show you whether you were successful or whether you have to try again. Principle: The horse must make room for you, must offer you its place.
-Horses will move aside for the one higher in rank. After this, all further scrapping will cease. If a horse moves aside this is comparable with the submissive gesture of a dog offering its neck to the superior opponent. If the horse has made room for you and thereby respects your higher order of rank, this will be the start of its submission and the basis of its confidence.
-Horses are extremely inquisitive and not one bit unforgiving. If you have made your four-legged friend understood that you are the boss, it may push off, but after a few minutes it will show interest in you again and approach you with friendliness and curiosity. Just watch out when it brings up and tests the questions of power again, trying to find out if you still deserve its confidence. You should always be prepared for this.
-Horses want to be fondled and petted; they are rather affectionate, but take care that you really reinforce only positive behaviour. If you try to calm down a horse immediately after a panic reaction "soothingly" pat the horse's neck. In these situations you must again "keep a cool head" and make clear that you are the one in control of everything.

A real nuisance for the rider and his horse. On warm, windless days, horseflies can appear in swarms, in the middle of the moors or in the vicinity of rivers and lakes and attack you. Sometimes, the only thing that helps is to run away - although the horse's sweat attracts this pest even more. Some horses are not bothered about the bites of these aggressive insects, others, however, threaten to freak out literally. This can lead to additional stress for the rider. In these cases one should help the animals with the whip and with one's hands, faithful to the battle cry: "Seven at one blow". On critical days sprays are held ready at the stable, which contain water mixed with a little vinegar. If the horse is sprayed with this sour solution, the biting insects will keep away for a while.

The horse's "footwear". They should always be in good order. Check them before and after the ride. In high season and during the holiday weeks the blacksmith is at the farm almost every day to give new horseshoes to the horses. If a horseshoe is lost on the way you should phone the farm in the evening.

Horse Shoe
The valley of Gleniff, shaped like a horseshoe. A worthwhile days ride from the farm. The start of the route is the same as the one to the Cross Country Course. For orientation: The extension of the road from Mullaghmore to Cliffoney leads straight to the HorseShoe.

Hunting [on horseback]
A sport on horseback did with passion in Ireland and England in the autumn and Winter Season. Indeed a test of courage for black-belt holders. The hunt in Ireland goes - together with the pack of hounds up hill and down dale - always in pursuit of the fox. Even good riders must be able to rely especially on the almost supernatural capabilities of their horses. They set off with power and stamina and watch where they go and from where they can jump. Most important exercise for the rider; Staying in the saddle.
At Horse Holiday Farm interested riders are well prepared for taking part in a hunt. The Cross Country Course provides many different exercises for this purpose. The climax of a hunting weekend or a hunting week is the participation in a proper Irish Hunt. You will definitely have something to talk about when you get home.

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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