HORSE RID­ING

Why I love ...

The Irish Times Magazine - - ON THE MOVE -

I have al­ways loved horses and was lucky enough to grow up in the coun­try­side which meant that, once I learned how to ride pro­fi­ciently, I was al­lowed to get my very own horse.

As a teenager, I hacked on the coun­try roads and rode cross- coun­try. There were so many in­cred­i­ble cour­ses nearby to ride. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from uni­ver­sity I worked in Lon­don and Ber­lin for al­most 10 years. Sadly, in those big cities horse rid­ing fa­cil­i­ties are both dif­fi­cult to get to via pub­lic trans­port and very ex­pen­sive.

Now, hav­ing moved back to Ire­land, I un­der­stand how lucky we are to have such won­der­ful sta­bles in close prox­im­ity to most ar­eas. My pas­sion is horse rid­ing as you get to en­joy an ex­cit­ing, fast- paced sport whilst out in the fresh coun­try air. Horses are the most won­der­ful an­i­mals and so much of rid­ing is about your mu­tual re­spect and con­nec­tion to them. De­spite their size, they are kind and ther­a­peu­tic to be around. When you ride you’ve got to be very fo­cused so it’s a great dis­trac­tion from the stresses of work or per­sonal woes.

It isn’t prac­ti­cal for me to have my own horse at the mo­ment so I love go­ing to Ross Eques­trian Cen­tre on the shores of Lough Sheelin in Co Ca­van and do­ing jump­ing lessons there with my coach Elli­nor Murdy.

Each les­son is var­ied as there is so much to learn and im­prove on even if you are an ex­pe­ri­enced rider. I go once to twice a week and al­ter­nate be­tween group lessons and pri­vate lessons. For me, it’s im­por­tant to do it as reg­u­larly as I can, as it lifts my spirit and is very ground­ing.

As well as the en­joy­ment you get from be­ing with horses and in na­ture, it im­proves your fit­ness as all of your mus­cles are put to work. It can be tech­ni­cal and some lessons are hard work so the thrill of jump­ing a clear round is in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing.

AOIFE CAFFREY

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