05 September 2017
Today we met our mounts in the field we left them for the night. With a bit of whistling, calling his name, and of course, food, Toibin started to come up to me. Another great part about having a horse. The rains held off most of they day and the sun was peaking through at us.
We rode high up on the hills with views of amazing Irish farms – so green, the cattle, and of course, the sheep! Many times, we were greeted by other horses in the fields we were riding next to, whom decided to trot alongside us for a bit. Continuing up through the woods of Slieve Aughty Mountains, we kept getting higher and passed along many stone ruins. Most of the ruins are of farming villages where the people came together to live and work on a landlord’s farm, and for it, they were given the potatoes to eat. Of course, once the potato blight came along, and the Potato Famine hit, the people moved to cities to find work, left on boats to America where they often died of illness, or other means, leaving the farm villages behind.
We continued to weave through the forest of muck, the roads along farms that smelled of apple-cinnamon from the round bale hay, and passed bright stone houses lined with flowers of various colors and the obligatory yellow lab or border collie in the yard. Lunchtime lead us to a road alongside preservation land, still lending breathtaking views.
After lunch, we continued to gain ground uphill before entering the White Sand park, where endless switchbacks, each turn highlighting a view of Lough Derg, endued us up on the sandy shores of the lake. Like the story of “Red Lake” the bottom was red. We singled-filed the horses and began to ford the lake. Being shallower than I thought, the horses still heaved up their heavy hooves, making great splashes in the water, and smiles on faces. As we trotted, the splashes and smiles both grew bigger. Right out of storybook.
Although we passed the little red minivan, it wasn’t waiting there for us. No. We rode another hour and a half though around the lake, on new roads for new homes. The wind picked up, feeling like a fall evening in the States. Cool and crisp. And though our bums ached, no one complained. We kept our smiles and or views until the little red minivan once again appeared. We unsaddled, walked the horses to their field for the evening, watched them trot up, up, and away up the hill. Looking at our watches, we had ridden 20 miles in 6.25 hours. It was now a half-hour before dinner. Famished!
Tomorrow, we leave An Sibin Riding Center and heads towards the Atlantic Ocean. We will overnight in a new town, Loftin, for the night, with promises of many pubs. I am holding out on Guinness until I can have one on tap. Meanwhile, it’s ciders and lagers.
Oh, the things I have missed about horses…