The new Times

The New Times report on their Irish Horse Vacation

Ireland - a view from Horseback
by Wendy Carlson

At the moment, we were being blasted by the worst storm of the year and our guide, cherub-faced Donie O'Sullivan, wisely decided we should visit that pub for a lunch of salmon and brown bread and a steaming pot of tea.It rains a lot in Ireland, especially in October, when I was there. Temperatures were mild, even balmy some days. And, in this land of jigs and jocularity, the rain just adds to the delirium. The Irish even have invented all sorts of quaint expressions to avoid saying the "r" word, especially in front of tourists. A "soft day" is anything short of a downpour.

He'd been galloping over the same stretch of beach for years. I balanced myself on his wide, comfy back, threw caution to the wind and waited for eternity to pass as we slowed to a trot. The rest of the posse, except me, was rallying to ride again. But it was raining hard and I was secretly hoping we'd rein our horses over to the nearest pub instead.

First, a glob hit my right eye; then another struck my left. A blob lodged in my ear and another landed in my gaping mouth. Suddenly, everything was a blur and my life was in the care of Apache. Fortunately, he knew the drill.

Not that I had much choice. Apache was galloping behind Judd, the equine equivalent of a Mack truck. Every time Judd's saucer-sized hooves hit the beach they spewed sand into my face.

The pelting rain had worked its way under my waxed jacket and I was soaked to the skin, so I really didn't fancy plunging through the icy surf of the Atlantic Ocean on a giant gelding named Apache.