Horseback Riding Vacations at the Horse Holiday Farm

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The Riders-ABC 
I and K and L and M

I
Irish Hunter
Breeding result of the crossing between a Draught mare and a thoroughbred stallion. Robust, good-natured, receptive, fast and sure-footed - these are the most important of the positive characteristics, which make the Irish Hunter stand out. A really versatile horse which is particularly well suited for trail riding. Most of the horses at the riding schools and stables on our continent could copy a great deal from these character traits.

Island
Dernish Isle situated directly opposite the farm can be easily reached when the tide is out. You ride from the farm down to the beach and then across the stony and rocky coastline for some kilometres along the mud -flats. Do not be afraid of the slightly slippery stone path, the horses are sure-footed and master this course with style. Of course, you could not expect your school horseback home, to walk on such a ground; it would probably break every bone. On the way to the island deep tideway's force you to make a considerable detour. You will probably think you have almost reached Grange before you can actually cross the mud flats to the island.
By the way: on sandbanks off the island you can often watch seal families sunbathing there leisurely.


K
Knocknarea
A mountain very close to Sligo. The name refers to its legendary past because Knocknarea means "execution hill". It is almost 330 metres high. From the top you have a terrific view of Sligo and the coastline with its bays, beaches and cliffs. When visibility is good the view extends up to Connemara on the one side and to Donegal in the opposite direction.
It is worthwhile climbing Knocknarea, especially because of Queen Maeve's Grave, a megalithic burial chamber. A place inter-twined with myth since Maeve, Queen of Connacht, is generally considered as the first liberator in Irish legend. Her chase of the Brown Bull of Cooley and the subsequent bloody wars between Ulster and Connacht supplied the material for one of the most famous Irish Legends: "The Tain". The stone hill on Mount Knocknarea, which is said, by archaeologists, to be a burial place, consists of some 40,000 loosely arranged pieces of rock. So far the secret of the burial chamber has not been unearthed because it is feared that an intrusive study would cause the rocks to collapse.

L
Lang's Pub

A place in Grange worth seeing. Apart from Barry's it is a good recommendation for a rest. It is worth seeing because here a traditional corner shop is combined with an original pub. At Lang.'s you can get everything which is needed for daily use: meat, cheese, butter, milk, tea, bread, eggs, vegetables, washing powder, candles, matches and most essential pills and powders for sore throats, colds, stomach-ache and many other ailments. Sometime or other a film producer from Hollywood will probably come along and want to buy the whole shop along with its entire inventory. You can do your shopping here until the evening hours, and savour a pint on the side. This is why even the men in Ireland volunteer to go shopping. On the ceiling hooks are fastened which were used for the drying of meat.

Leather boots
They may be very useful and fashionable in Germany for the dressage rider but in Ireland - especially for trail riding - leather boots have decisive disadvantages. Rubber boots are more practical, and above all, tighter and better suited against moisture. This can be put to the test on most of the soaking wet fields or on the numerous moors. If required, a bootjack should be taken on the trail because some stations unfortunately have not got the right tools available for this liberation exercise.
The dampness in the boots should be combated with newspaper, which you crumple into the shaft in the evening. In the morning the boots have usually completely dried out as if by magic. Never put rubber boots in front of the open fireplace or an oven. Sometimes, they literally melt away after this favour. With leather boots, too, extreme care is to be taken when exposing them to open fires and excessive heat.
Anyone, who has problems slipping into the shaft in the morning because the boot's shaft or the socks are still damp, can make things easier using special talcum powder or simple body talcum powder. And by the way, the powder moderates many an unpleasant whiff arising from the boots! If even this household remedy fails, you can also try your luck with a bin liner, which is put on like a sock.

Lobster
Noble crustacean from the sea. Fresh lobster is served for dinner at the farm upon request at an additional cost. A unique messing about, a medieval feast. The lobsters from this area are a speciality and are in international demand. Many of them are exported to France, the country of gourmets. Nowhere else will you get them so well prepared and so fresh and tasty, than here at the farm.

Lough Gill
A large, idyllically situated lake three kilometres east of Sligo. Twenty islands, each one more idyllic than the other, mark the picturesque scene. The poet William Butler Yeats chose Lough Gill and especially the island Inishfree as his favourite place. Inishfree has been immortalised in one of his poems. A business-minded Irishman offers trips across the lakes with his little motorboat. On this trip you will discover more details about the individual islands. The Sligo Trail takes you past some beautiful places on the shores of Lough Gill. In addition, the lake is a popular destination even for the rest day.
Also within the rider's reach: "Parke's Castle" on the northern shore of the lake, situated on the road from Sligo to Dromahair. On the Sligo Trail this castle makes it worthwhile to do a little detour. It has now been renovated to a large extent and is worth seeing. Here you can find more details about the cultural history of the country and about the life and customs of the former knights.

M
Mane
The horse's hair is less a decoration than a useful aid. Just as the tail it is used above all to drive the insects away. At Horse Holiday Farm its cleaning is restricted to brushing. A comb might get stuck and would rip out more hair than necessary.

Moors
Certainly worth seeing, although in some places, they are still scarred by rubbish and waste. Apparently, many Irish people have not been properly convinced of the need for environmental protection, although a pleasant change is slowly evolving and wild dumping grounds are getting less.
The exploitative way in which the moors are utilised and deprived of their peat also shows a lack of thought. Numerous peat fires and open fireplaces are smoking away. The pungent smell hanging over villages and even whole areas is unmistakable. This idyll has its price. The cosy fire in the open fireplace cannot be enjoyed without regrets. Since only little wood and little coal are available in Ireland, peat is nowadays still the only inexpensive raw material, which can be used for heating. On the other hand, the trail passages over the moors are some of the most impressive parts of the holiday. Swaying ground under the hooves. Soaking wet brown-green endlessness all around. No sound except for the whistling of the wind. Only a few birds find their way into this area. The impressions imparted to the rider can hardly be put into words. The feeling produced by the vista of the sparse vegetation is overwhelming. Nevertheless, the vegetation is characterised by numerous surprising peculiarities. Some of the plants are found only here.
It is a problem and sometimes an adventure for the rider if the route is obstructed by potholes so that your way is blocked. In these cases calm and level headedness, along with riding skills are certainly required. The horses sense the difficulty and suddenly refuse to go on. Not even biscuits or friendly persuasion will help you to move forward. Sometimes this means dismounting and leading the horse firmly, but sensitively across the difficult obstacle. In other situations, the rider should remain in his seat and direct his horse across pallets, narrow paths and unsafe ground when it is not possible to be sure that the green on the right and left of the pathway is without dangerous pot holes. Potholes cause great problems for all trail riders. For skilled and courageous people they offer challenge and adventure for panicking and anxious people without self-confidence they can, no doubt, be dangerous. However, confidence is given by the fact that up to now the horses have always found a way out of all these pot holes obstructing the way during a trail - no matter how deep and dangerous they may have looked. It just looks a lot more dramatic than it actually is. Riders who have passed the test can tell you a thing or two about it all. Most of the reports belong into the category: rider's yarns.

Mounting and dismounting
At the stables, the horse should be taken to the sand paddock where the rider should swing himself into the saddle using a mounting aid if necessary. Note: in the stable walkway the horses can easily slip or skid and for the rider it is definitely more pleasant to land gently in the sand than on hard concrete. This way, you also avoid twisting your ankle as you dismount.

Mullaghmore
Small, nice seaside resort a few kilometres north of the farm. At the weekend there is always something going on in Mullaghmore, bands are playing in the bars and pubs or there are music sessions. The bars of the Beach Hotel and the Pier Hotel are popular meeting points.
Mullaghmore beach, just less than three kilometres long, is well sheltered and entices you to go swimming. In the meantime, it has been more or less closed for riders. People on the beach are not too pleased about groups of riders going right through the middle of their playing children's sandcastles.
From Mullaghmore you can be taken across to the island of Inishmurray where an early 6th century Christian monastic settlement with dwellings called beehive cells, can be visited. The crossing takes more than an hour. The boat should be chartered a few days in advance.

Muscular soreness
Unpleasant [and completely uncalled for] response of your own flesh to unfamiliar strain. Mostly it appears in places where you would hardly expect to have muscles at all. Untrained riders are afflicted by it after one or two days of longer rides or during the trails. It is not dramatic but is extremely annoying because your freedom of movement is restricted. Except for heat [sauna] and a little massage there is no remedy for this - unless you prepare yourself at home for these strains beforehand. Gymnastics and stretching are good exercises. One riding lesson per week is hardly sufficient for preparation.


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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