The horses most important instrument. Insects are driven away with whip-like
lashes. Furthermore, the horse uses it to proclaim that it is displeased
with something. A normal brush will usually do the job. If the trail
is extremely dirty, water can be used for once - of course without shampoo.
The greatest mistakes and unfortunately, often the causes of many accidents
are connected with the way the horses are tied up for their morning grooming
or for a short break. The strength and power of a horse are very easily
under-estimated. Note: horses are always tied up with the halter, never
with the bridle
The question is where the rope is to be fastened. When looking for a
suitable anchor place you should only choose solid hooks, posts, and
trees. Absolutely unsuitable, indeed virtually dangerous are: wooden
fences, pallets [which can turn into terrible missiles!] bicycles, car
doors and gates. Even with metal field gates you should look for a place
close to the hinge fitting. Trees must also be able to withstand a persistent
pull. Quite a few of our four-legged friends have managed to run away
carrying along a little tree together with roots - no joke!
Also important is the correct knot. The rule is; what can easily and
quickly be undone in an emergency is correct. All you need for this purpose
is a simple loop which tethers the horse but can be easily undone by
the rider in a flash. Anyone who does not know this knot should definitely
get someone to show it to him/her.
Frequently under-estimated channels of water on the beach. A special
kind of obstacle. The tide often leaves behind some narrow channels of
water flowing back on shallow and sloping parts of the mud flats. Due
to the current the tideways are often much deeper than they appear to
be at first sight. Suddenly you may have to stop in front of a tideway
with a width of about l0 metres and then the question is how to get across
without going swimming, together with the horses. If you can control
and halt your horse in good time you have already solved the worst problem.
According to experience tideways cause the most riding accidents. Quite
a few horses do an emergency stop from the gallop just before the water.
Woe betide anyone who does not sit firmly and safely in his saddle! Some
animals, trusting in their rider's circumspection, are said to jump right
into the middle of this water and lose the ground under their feet.
Lord and master of all classes. He manages the farm and knows all about
his horses. Upon arrival at the farm he allocates the horses. When doing
so he tries to take the rider's self-assessment into consideration and
relies to a large extent on his knowledge of human nature and horse sense.
Hardly anyone is put on the wrong horse.
Ride on the left. Horses and riders are road users just like cars, bicycles,
mopeds and foot passengers. The general road traffic rules apply. Left
hand traffic is prescribed by the law. If a whole group has to cross
a road, all horses must line up along the road and cross together at
The horses at Horse Holiday Farm are used to normal traffic. You should,
however, not take any risks. The utmost attention is required in built-up
areas. Surprising noises [roaring concrete mixers, pneumatic hammers]
or unusual road users [wheelchairs, tandems etc] may give your horse
a good fright, which releases the natural flight impulses in it. You
should always be prepared for this.
An absolute must as a reward for the horse. The round little horse toffees
must be really tasty. Experienced horses first of all test their riders
by carefully sniffing at their trousers and jacket pockets. Whether these
treats are also suitable as an emergency provision for the rider has
not yet been tested.
Medium pace of the horse. A two-time movement. The horse can keep this
pace over a long distance without running out of breath or being soaked
with sweat. The trot is particularly recommended to cover longer distances
quickly. Furthermore, it is a welcome change every now and again. Unlike
German riding schools you hardly every rise at the trot during trail
riding - only a few people would manage this for longer periods. And
for the horse it is certainly no pleasure to feel you hopping up and
down like a Ping-Pong ball. A sitting trot is the rule [English seat];
i.e. rider and horse are to match rhythm and speed so that the ride does
not turn out to be an ordeal. Again the rule is Make it as easy as possible
for the horse. An elastic up and down without permanently falling onto
the horses back is more pleasant for the horse.
With the walk you start, with the walk you finish. Especially during
the stays at the Farm it is essential that after a gallop the horses
are given sufficient time to walk before you return to the farm. Even
the robust Irish Hunters of the farm are not immune to colds. Large parts
if not the major parts of the different trails are ridden at walk. This
is beyond doubt. Horse and rider can take their time, just enjoying everything
and experiencing the beautiful countryside.
On every field there must be sufficient water for the horse to drink.
During the trail ride you should convince yourself of this. Buckets
and troughs should always be filled to the top with water. If the
horses are washed after a ride and hosed down, it is the rider's
duty to dry them with a sweat scraper afterwards.
The animals normally stay in their herd where they can follow their natural
urge to be active and where they remain healthy, happy and above all
balanced. You will look in vain here for nutcases or crooks who use every
opportunity to bite into your bottom or to hump their back like a rodeo
horse or to nudge your shoulders.
On the trails filled water bottles turn out to be a real boon. During
some day rides there is neither a possibility to do any shopping to stock
up food, cans of coke or bottled drinks, nor do pubs invite you in for
a rest. Even the horses will have lost a lot of liquid after several
hours riding and will be extremely thirsty. A brook or a natural drinking
trough will then
Give relief. Very thirsty horses will even go for puddles. By the way:
if you forget about your horse and if you are so selfish as to quench
only your own thirst, do not be surprised, if it tries to dispute your
right to the first drink of beer.
An extensive subject Back home every holidaymaker is first of all questioned
about the weather and the amount of rain. In Ireland, there are many
different types of weather, you could say, all weathers. Very seldom
it turns out really monotonously good or bad. You will feel transferred
to the month of April. Variable is probably the main characteristic.
The gulf current determines the weather all year round, therefore, it
is basically, rather mild. In addition there is the wind, the every blowing
wind which soon drives away low lying rain clouds.
As far as the weather is concerned, Ireland is the ideal country for
riding because extreme heat or extreme cold is unheard of. "Nice
weather" is the standard welcome of the Irish, without sarcasm,
by the way, even if it has only just stopped pouring down. Only proper
clothing helps against too much weather or "increased humidity" -
a coat of waxed cotton is definitely a very useful piece.
Regular day of rest for stable staff, house staff and horses. A good
opportunity to draw the attention of all those at home to you, by sending
cards and letters in order to make them really envious. On this day you
can jump on a bus to Sligo or Donegal. Those who have rented cars can
use their free time for another excursion.
The rider's extended arm. It should never punish but can frequently be
used to show the direction, to increase attention, to increase speed
and last, but not least, to praise. The whip can also be used to chase
away and wipe off flies and horseflies from the horse's neck. Whips have
a fatal resemblance to umbrellas: if you have it on you it will not be
needed and vice versa. Unpleasant characteristics of the whip: they are
often left behind, lost or you cannot remember where you put it just
Unfortunately, cracks, bruises and cuts cannot be completely avoided
if you ride through the countryside. Complaining does not help much.
Blue spray does. Most of the small wounds, especially those on the legs
heal more quickly than you think. Profusely bleeding cracks or gaping
wounds are to be discussed with the stable staff. Attention! Horses are
basically oversensitive and make quite a "song and dance" when
even the smallest injuries are treated, therefore: always watch your
X - Rays
Try to avoid them by all means using circumspection and caution. X -
rays are used at Sligo Hospital like at any other hospital in the world
to diagnose bone fractures.