Thursday, January 25, 2018

When my husband suggested horseback riding on our trip in Ireland, I thought he was crazy! I hadn’t ridden a horse in nearly 30 years…and then just the odd camel or two and a donkey on our travels in Turkey and Greece.

But the next day, I found myself up on a horse named Hemmingway and riding through the stunningly green Killarney National Park, which received the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation in 1981. We opted to take a two-hour, guided trek through the park, and I’m so thrilled we did. For once, my husband was right! Later on, my petite mother-in-law said her son’s weird ideas helps keep her young. 😉  
The friendly staff from the Killarney Riding Stables selected horses that would be easy to handle as novices. We got lucky and had our own private tour with our family. I think it was easier as a small group, and we were able to try and keep our horses at the same pace. However, sometimes, a horse would want to stop and eat grass or not move that fast, so we had to nudge them along with the help of our guide. 

And trotting on a horse was a whole different experience!
The Killarney National Park, located in the southwest corner of Ireland, covers more than 25,000 acres and includes three main lakes situated in a broad valley stretching south between the mountains. Closest to the town of Killarney is the lower lake (Lough Leane) dotted with islands and the historic ruins of Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle. The wooded peninsula of Muckross separates the lower lake from the middle lake sometimes called Muckross Lake. You’ll find tons of wooded areas with oak and ash trees as well as ferns and wild flowers and even the picturesque Torc Waterfall, which unfortunately we did not see.
What I quickly learned is that trying to ride a horse as a newbie and take photos at the same time is much more difficult than I imagined! I had to straighten out many crooked photos while editing them. Some of the photos in this post is from our horse ride and others are from another day that we took a long walk through the park. I recommend doing both activities, if you can, because you can see different parts of the park as well as the 15th-century Ross Castle.
The trail ride through the National Park was absolutely beautiful with stunning mountain scenery of the MacGillicuddy’s Reeks and the lakes in the valley surrounding us. We also saw several herds of Irish red deer in the park. Amazing! This Killarney Guide maps out some areas where you usually easily find the red deer. See if you can spy all the deer below.
Even though I was skeptical of riding a horse at first, I’m so happy we did this adventure in Ireland! Riding a horse through the national park allowed us to see so much more as well as give me a different perspective.

I will say that at the end of our two-hour ride, my butt and other aching parts of my body, was happy to be on solid ground again. I joked with my mother-in-law that I don’t know how Claire Fraiser from “The Outlander” series could handle riding for several hours in rugged Scotland.
The four amigos on our horses in Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Note: We paid for this activity ourselves. The cost was €240 for four people for a two-hour guided ride.

My Traveling Joys

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

wonderful! we used to do horseback tours all over the place. i love them.