Newest Review: ... Great. But I think we'll have problems booking, so next time we're here...". I was outvoted. Next day we headed for the st... more
Riding High in Donegal
All Other Attractions in Donegal
Member Name: Gaelic_Goddess
All Other Attractions in Donegal
Date: 29/09/01, updated on 13/10/01 (163 review reads)
Disadvantages: Sore bum !!!
For two weeks I nursed a very bruised leg, for 30+ years I harboured a total dislike for anything equine and, to be honest, I really haven't been all that keen on ice-cream since it happened either.
Having had such an experience at an early age it's not surprising that when pony trekking was suggested, while sipping a quiet beer, I immediately asked for something stronger!
Now, I'm not one for balking at anything adventurist - abseiling, whitewater rafting, paragliding, scuba diving - you name it, I'll have a go. But riding a horse!
It was summer and myself and a group of friends decided we would head for Donegal for a relaxing time away from work, husbands, kids; walking the dogs, strolling along the immense, unspoilt, beaches; photographing the amazing sunset and of course joining the locals at the end of the day for a sing-song and a bevy. Everything was going to plan until someone suggested we should re-enact The Magnificent Seven and I was left with only one response - "Yeh. Sure. Great. But I think we'll have problems booking, so next time we're here...". I was outvoted.
Next day we headed for the stables. The horses had been recommended and trained for actions and for voice - if this was meant to provide comfort it wasn't working.
I suggested that it may rain and that I should drive behind with appropriate clothing, failing that I could always stay behind and wash the dishes, wash the dogs, wash the brick work. No deal, I was going.
The stables weren't quite what I expected. They were more relaxed and welcoming - not Lady Tara at Home Farm (Emmerdale watchers will
understand) - but equally as clean and cared for. The stable hands gave me a hat, checked my footwear and reassured me that many people feel a little trepidation when they face such a magnificent beast.
Having had my pep talk, I strolled out with the confidence of John Wayne only to come face to face with the belly of my transport - Robert. I gazed skyward in order to make eye contact and immediately fell in love.
Robert turned out to be the most gracious of animals, cleverly chosen by Geraldine, the owner of the stables. She had sensed my fear and teamed me with a horse that would read and understand my emotions and never take advantage of my lack of confidence to show off. Tes, he did make me trot and even canter for all of about five seconds before I pulled the mane from his skin but all in all it was an easy re-introduction to horses.
We rode for a few minutes along the side roads before entering dep into the lanes and pathways that jigsaw through the West Coast of Donegal. For an hour or more we sailed along admiring the sky, the sea, the foliage and our own aptitude as competent trekkers!
Some of us talked through the problems that had been on our mind for a long time while others preferred to stay silent and indulge in the quietness of reflection - each of us allowing the moment to take over. It was an adventure that only Enid Blyton could have created in her good old days of the Secret Seven and I felt so priveledged to be there.
Towards the end of the trek, I rode like a pro: one hand on the reins, the other on my hip and my eyes scanning the landscape. I had never imagined that I could do it, let alone enjoy it. A brief encounter with a discerning horse, a very understanding guide and magnificent countryside had cured all ills.
A few months later, I returned - by then the memory of painful taut muscles, saddle weary bum and the fact that I had difficulty getting off the horse at the end of the trek, h
ad all but vanished. This time I organised the event myself and didn't care that it was a miserable rainy, cold October day.
Having to wear a Spaghetti-Western style poncho along with a Polo monkey hatwasn't a problem, neither waas facing the elements; what really mattered was the exhileration and sense of achievement associated with being part of nature.
Donegal is a truly amazing place, full of exciting and contradicting experiences. There, you can be whoever you want to be and be totally accepted by the locals. The barrenness of its landscape holds its own beauty and no matter what time of the year, the air clears the head and focusses the mind.
I'm heading back there in the spring to complete a two day trek across the mountains, so if you see someone riding high on the back of a large beast, wearing well padded cycling shorts and a huge grin - do give me a wave.
Further information on pony trekking in Donegal, including addresses of stables, can be viewed at the following web site;
General information for Donegal can be viewed at;
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