dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Learning to Fly

Since the weather is still sucking I decided that this is a good time to share a story with you. 

Several years ago I took on a second job. I became a trainer in a specialized program for Speech Language Pathologists. It was a lot of fun- I got to meet all sorts of people and travel to places. In 2008 I had the opportunity to go to Ireland. The plan was to travel to Cork and teach for three days, have a three day break and then teach in Dublin. I was over the moon - Ireland was a dream place to visit. 

Upon taking the assignment I immediately began to look into options for horseback riding. I found a place on the outskirts of Dublin that looked promising and was highly rated. I contacted them and after numerous emails it was determined that I would contact them when I arrived in Cork and we would set up a time. Except that they never returned any of my calls or emails. None. 

And I began to panic. On my third evening I went onto the internet and found another place (Belair Manor) and sent a message. The next day after work there was a message for me and I returned the call. I spoke to a lovely woman who's name escapes me now (it has been a while) and explained my plight. She said that they could probably do something for me and asked when I would like to. I gave her the date I could do it (in between my teaching) and she said 'oh no dear, we have no room for you. We need more notice'.  I was so disappointed and I explained about how I had travelled to Ireland and it had always been my dream to ride there and I had no idea when/if I'd ever be back. She was silent for a moment and then said "okay dear, leave it with me. I'll get back to you".  

I was not sure if I would ever hear from her again but the next day she called and said that they could fit me in on Saturday at a 11:00. I thanked her profusely and asked what train I should catch to get there. '
Oh, there is no train to here. You need a car'. 
'oh' My voice was small and disappointed. 'I don't have a car and I'm terrified to drive here' (no joke, driving in Ireland is not for the faint of heart). 
'*sigh* Leave it with me' 

A couple hours after the woman whom I was starting to consider my best friend called back with a plan. And here's how it worked: Saturday morning I caught the 7:30 train from Dublin to Bray. At the train station in Bray I mean a woman named 'Maeve'. I recognized Maeve becasue she was in breeches. She drove me to the Manor. In the car she explained that she was not driving me back because she was riding before me and had to head right back, but they had worked out a plan. I didn't care, I figured I would cross that bridge when I got to it. 

I hung our at the Manor taking photos while I waited for my ride. Check out the website- this place is unbelievable. 


the stable yard

the view

Soon enough my time to ride came. I was mounted on a huge Irish sport horse named "Charlie" (hey Emma!). I had brought my boots and half-chaps and they loaned me a helmet.

do I look excited or what? Charlie less so

Before we left on the ride I was taken into a small ring so they could evaluate that I actually could ride. After a walk and trot around I was deemed okay and off we went. There was a small group of veterans riding with me and we headed into the Wicklow mountain. It was so beautiful and I cannot despcribe how full my heart was. We then picked up a trot and then I was told 'Teresa we're going to have a wee canter- just keep your horse behind the one in front of  you and it will all be fine'. 

The 'wee canter' was a flat out gallop over the mountain. Charlie was big and powerful and I really felt like was a flea. I had this moment of 'oh my god dying is a real possiblity right now' and my next immediate thought was 'And I don't care'.  I truly didn't. In that moment I was flying across the countryside and it was a moment of pure and unadulterated happiness. If I had died at the moment I would have died truly happy to the core of my soul. I got into a two point and loosened my hold on the reins. He flicked an ear back 'really?'  and I was 'YES, LET'S FLY'. So we did. Until Charlie started to feel like this was really all a bit of work. He was used to (I think) terrifying tourists not having some crazy Canadian on his back urging for more. 

We stopped half way and all shared a flask with brandy. And then we rode back, with moments of flying. Back at the manor I slid off and my legs almost collapsed under me. The adrenalin was still flowing. A groom took Charlie away to wash off and cool down. I offered to help but was turned down. In the manor house we all shared a lunch of brown bread, ham, potatoes and baked beans. It was the best meal I had ever had. We all talked about horses and it didn't matter what country we were from because the love was the same. 

Lunch was over all too soon and I found out that I was being driven back to the outskirts of Dublin by 'Carmel'. She lived in a suburb and was going to drop me at the train station. She apologized for not taking me back to where I was staying but I was honestly fine with it. I know we chatted on the way home. She was the wife of a former diplomat (retired) and had grown children and some young grandchildren. I think, looking back, that she and her husband were 'very important people' but you wouldn't know it by her manner. I was still in a daze and probably sounded very dull and uninteresting. 

I took the train back to downtown Dublin. As I was making my way back to my B&B I saw that the Art Gallery was having an exhibit of Impressionist Art. I detoured and went in. 

And that is how I had the most perfect of days riding in the mountains in the morning and looking at incredible art in the afternoon. All because of the kindness of a number of women who worked hard to make a stranger's dream come true. I will treasure this memory forever. 

There are very few moments in life of pure joy. This was one of  mine.

41 comments:

  1. My dream vacation is a riding trip to somewhere in the UK. I need to do it while I'm still young enough and brave enough to actually make it happen. Except there's that whole lack of money thing.

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    1. Give me the word and I will meet you there!

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  2. What a lovely story. Charlie reminds me of another huge Irish hunter horse, names Everest (yes, he was that large) that I used to ride in England. I'm so glad you met, Charlie and the nice people who must have left you with such great memories.

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    1. That sounds like a lot of fun. I love that name.

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  3. What a lovely post Teresa! If my dream trip to Ireland ever materializes, I will have to hit you up for your equestrian angel's contact info. :D

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  4. Amazing! I have always found, in all of my travels, that some of the most meaningful moments came when I did something for myself, by myself. How perfect that you had one of these moments AND it involved horses :)

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  5. ahhh how incredible! especially how generous everyone at the farm was to bring you in and and make this experience possible! what a dream!!! also, aww Charlie has such a sweet face, gotta love those dopey soft eyes and ears!! <3

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    1. I was blown away by their generosity. I found the Irish people to be very open and friendly.

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  6. That's amazing how that turned out! What an amazing experience.

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  7. That sounds like a dream come true, for sure. What wonderful women to make that happen for you. They really went out of their way! It's so rare that anyone will let you canter (gallop) their horses here in the US. We did a little in Hawaii last year, and will again this March when we return, but nothing like that.

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    1. Galloping on a beach in Hawaii would be a dream too.

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  8. Ireland is surely a wonderful place with wonderful people. So glad you had this experience, it is a memory to treasure.

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  9. This is one of my favorite posts you have ever written. How wonderful of them to help you out and what a great rmenory to hold dear.

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    1. Thank you for that. It truly was one of my all-time best days

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  10. This story gave me the good kind of goosebumps. Like I always say, the Universe conspires. ;) What a beautiful, beautiful day. Ireland has been my dream since I was a teen.

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    1. Yeah- writing it out reminded me again of how easily this could have gone the other way

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  11. What a wonderful story! Those moments of perfection and all the great peopke you meet are a big part of why I ride.

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  12. How magical! The simple meals I had in Ireland at the hand of generous people who were near strangers to me were some of the best of my life, too. What is it about their food? Mmmm. Thank you for sharing such a great story!

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    1. The food is simple and not over processed. Ireland was a place where I felt immediately at home.

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  13. Absolute dream come true. Wow!

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  14. What a lovely dream come true.
    I do love to fly along in 2 point, strings of mane lashing my face, rhythm of hooves pounding my ears into my bloodstream, urging my heart to beat in sync. I only wish we had some hills in this part of the country... being from the Rocky Mountain Foothills, I find the topography here tediously flat.

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    1. It's the letting go that is so hard and so freeing at the same time.

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    1. It is! Sometimes I find it incredible that it really happened.

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  16. This is such a great story and amazing experience! Riding in Ireland is a bucket list item for me as well.

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    1. It sounds like a plan for a blogger meet up....

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  17. What a lovely trip. I want to go back to Ireland to ride. I tried to convince my husband to move to Ireland, but he was all like, I need to keep my job. Skewed priorities right there.

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    1. I had a very similar conversation with my husband. I do plan to go back though.

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  18. Bel Air is great. I live in Cork and went for a cross country weekend with my daughter in 2016. The people are lovely, the horse are amazing and the yard is just out of this world. It was possibly Noni you were talking to, I think she handles most of the rides.

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    1. That was her name! Thank you! I truly loved Cork and am definitely planning to come back one day.

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  19. Oh wow. How dreamy! Like an old photograph. What lovely people. FUnny how things work out at the end of the day. I am going to France this summer and hope to have a similar story to share with you!

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