As a club we may not excel at dressage, showjumping or any of the conventional riding club disciplines but our weekend excursion to Bundoran proved yet again that we are world beaters when it comes to the fine art of enjoying ourselves.
Louise and Libby delayed the start of the action but Fenway arrived sporting a brand new set of shoes while Tutu’s jeep maintained its cool and delivered its cargo safely at the destination. Both horses were whipped off the trailer and tacked up in record time before the impatient cavalcade departed the stable yard and the equestrian action began.
The route down to Tullan strand was dotted with sporty surfers and the horses’ eyes were out on sticks as they absorbed the unfamiliar activity. It was Pauric who got the biggest shock though when he spotted a strange free-standing wetsuit lurking at the bottom of the track to the beach. He overcame the fright manfully and was ready for lift-off as Blackie joined the genteel charge down the strand. Despite freshness and enthusiasm, the 4-leggeds soon found themselves labouring in the soft Bundoran sand.
Our human satnav, Derek, negotiated the steep route up into the sandunes and led the troupe a merry dance up hill and down sandy dale, leaving a wake of sweaty and snorting breathlessness as both horses and riders battled unseasonal heat and seasonal lack of fitness. Narrow tunnels and gulleys almost got the better of some broader partnerships. Everybody arrived in tact on the highest peak to marvel briefly at the spectacular view before our guide blithely suggested we plunge over the precipice. “No” said our chairman and his loyal followers agreed. Discretion being the better part of valour…
Wistfully turning to look back at the peak, curiosity finally got the better of Damien and he succombed to the challenge. In a scene straight from a classic western, the little people looked on from afar while their heroes rode their horses head first down the sandy escarpment. They returned triumphant and the party continued on its merry way.
Horses and riders were equally warm and sweaty as they hit the surf for a paddle before heading back to Stracomer for a quick spin around the cross country course. Horses were hosed down, fed and set right before the humans enjoyed similar luxury when the entourage arrived at its overnight quarters. The elixir of life was provided by Our Man From Burt, ensuring that key members of the party were well warmed up before heading out for dinner at 7pm. A rioutous evening ensued.
Specialist insurance policies are surely available for participants in “the spoons”, a savage and uncivilised sport where quick reactions and sheer brute strength in equal measure will inevitably win the day. Victories were hard won and victims were many. Everybody miraculously survived to tell the tale!
A chillier Sunday morning got underway with a classic fry-up, setting us all straight for another memorable adventure in the sandy hinterland of Bundoran. The sun came out as the party returned to the beach, skirting surfers to enjoy the breaks. Afterwards our immensely hospitable hosts provided a welcome barbeque lunch to send us safely on our homeward journey. Tired and exhilirated in equal measure, the horses were loaded and the holiday drew to a close as lorries and trailers pulled out one by one.
A huge thank you to Damien and Nadine for organising the whole expedition. The simplicity of the whole weekend was its great charm. We don’t need much to keep us happy. Thanks to Magda for taking such lovely photos and to our hosts, Stracomer Stables, for first class livery and unmatchable navigational skills.
Pictured below: In the surf on Tullan strand. More photos in the Gallery.