This time last year, a friend and I were keen for an adventure on horseback so we headed down to Mount Juliet Estate in Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny for a cross country ride out. I had been to Mount Juliet before for a side saddle hack organised by the side saddle association and I was keen to head back to try out the equestrian facilities astride.
‘My Little Pony’
Small, cute fluffy and basically a real life ‘My Little Pony’. Has tiny hooves and ears. Looks like butter wouldn’t melt and could get away with murder for looking so damn cute.
‘I’ve Totally Got This’
Very confident pony who is happiest when the rider holds the mane and leaves them alone to get on with the job. When jumping a few fences, usually knows the course themselves by the third go. Does not believe in needing to be going at a steady pace or in a straight line to be able to jump a fence correctly. Loves to show off to an audience.
‘The Old Timer’
Was ‘18’ for many years and referred to as ‘aged’ for the past decade as no one is quite sure of exact age anymore. No one yard can remember the pony not being there.
That surge in horse power just before a massive buck.
Realising your phone has just slipped out of your pocket.
Realising this and hearing a splash or a crunch.
Knowing the difference between water resistant and water proof clothing and accessories.
Knowing the difference between sort of waterproof and really waterproof as in can withstand hours in the lashing rain waterproof.
Resorting to riding horses in gardening gloves or marigolds – now that’s a proper waterproof glove.
Because sadly we all cannot be Charlotte….
Dressage test movement: “Enter at A, proceed down centre line in working trot”
Dressage test reality: Attempt to get straight before entering arena. Deep breath, enter at A. Realise you are a little to left. Left leg, left leg, damn too much left leg, right leg. Okay that’s as straight as we are going to get. Sit up straight, smile at judge. Tits and teeth baby! Hey judge check me out, I am having the most awesome time on the best horse.
1. Why 200 euro is way better spent on a top quality pair of waterproofs than on a dress or a pair of heels. Anyone who feels differently should have to stand for four hours in monsoon rain without said waterproofs to see if they still feel the same afterwards.
2. How to recognise that subtle head tilt and eye glint that warns you that a school pony is about to change from angel to party animal.
It is almost time for the annual riding clubs festival. Times have been issued, weather apps are being consulted, child of prague statues are being plonked out on doorsteps, plans are being made and lists are being written.
You can check out what I learned at last year’s festival here. In the meantime, considering I have been going to the festival for a long as I have been in riding club I figured it made sense to compile a list of survival tips for newbies and first timers…..
- Past years would suggest that the weather will always be either scorching hot or lashing rain. This means you should be optimistic and pack shorts, suncream and sunglasses, lots of water and fly repellent. This also means you should be realistic and pack water proof trousers, a change of clothing, a waterproof sheet for your horse, wellies and anything waterproof you own.
Ever thought ‘no one ever wins those competitions on Facebook’? I used to think that too. I was wrong. People win – I won! Most recently I won a fantastic prize of a two day trip to Crossogue Equestrian near Thurles in Co. Tipperary in Ireland. My trip included two nights stay, meals and four lessons. Having ridden at Crossogue many years ago I was delighted to get an opportunity to head back and even more delighted when my friend Dani decided to book in to come with me.
We have all been there….those days where you consider taking up an indoor hobby that only involves inanimate objects…..
This was me, not one of my finest moments. Miraculously we didn’t part company as the horse was a gent and lifted his head up and waited for me to cop myself on.