As rain teemed from the heavens at 7pm, there were several desperate phone calls on Friday evening wondering whether the ride-out at Ray would go ahead. But by 7.30 it was dry and not a raindrop fell on the ten riders who turned out for the easy-going hack around the townlands east and west of the fast-flowing Glenalla River.
The sun came out and lit the surrounding hills as the group rode first around tiny tarred roads with lovely views south over the Swilly and north across the Devil’s Backbone. The horses were perfectly behaved except for a hiccup with Fenway who was making his riding club reappearance two weeks after returning from sabbatical. At an early stage on the route he decided to demonstrate the extended and accelerated reinback that he’d been practicing during his year in the field. Sally, who was riding him for the first time, sat tight while she tried to find the forward button but the gearbox was pretty rusty and she wisely handed Fenway to Francis and hopped aboard Hannah for the rest of the ride.
They swapped back as the group halted beneath the old Ray school. Sally and Libby walked sedately back to the meeting point while the rest of the group enjoyed an exhilarating canter up a steep forestry track where man-made brakes were largely unnecessary. Molly and Milly demonstrated that 6 weeks at grass is a perfect way to keep fit during the summer and Britney couldn’t have agreed more. Finbar was beaming with delight after tasting speed safely on a perfectly behaved Tia. Paddy, Hazel and Rachel completed the fast-moving posse who returned across the rough laneway bordering the Glenalla estate just as daylight faded. How can summer have disappeared so quickly?