As I sum up my incredible journey from today to you, know that not a single mountain that surrounds me can be viewed, as the world is covered in a thick layer of vanilla-marshmallow frosting. The horses are grazing in a hardly visible field above the stables, and distant swarms of black and grey crows dive in and out of the fog. The place that I am describing is Dingle, Ireland.
Yesterday I arrived in Dingle after a long journey on bus from Donegal (taking ~9.5 hours). My legs felt like complete jelly having not been on a horse in 24 hours and having been riding a horse for at least 4 hours a day for the past week! Naturally after putting down my bags, I pulled up my boots, and I saddled up a horse. We went for a two-hour teaser ride above the mountains, down into town, and then across a little beach. But it was today’s ride that gave me the exhilarating shake I needed.
Throughout Dingle I will be riding a charming mare named Blasket, appropriately named to exemplify the beautiful Blasket Islands. We started today’s sojourn by crossing the Milltown Bridge, the smell of seaweed and crisp salt permeating the air. Continuing onward we walked across a graveyard- a boat graveyard, that is. The century-old wooden boats were supposedly left on shore to be properly repaired but the damage, being too severe, caused them to never be restored. From the wear and tear of the sea and an accidental fire on one of the ships, they remain tattered, ominous, and abandoned.
From the boat graveyard, we crossed in front of Lord Ventry’s Estate, since remodeled into an all-girl’s, Gaelic-speaking boarding school. Blasket and our little crew passaged through the countryside, clippity clopping the horse’s hooves on the streets until we made it up into the hills where we took a little canter. When we reached the other side, a majestic sea was spread out panoramically, layers of mist covering the ocean in the distance.
On our way down to the beach we met up with some other horse traffic (gotta love Ireland and how it has horse traffic), so we snuck into a field of sheep that rightly looked at us as menacing invaders. When the little group of riders had passed, we left the sheep to mind their grass as we continued down into the harbor.
Jolly and upbeat through the mountains, this mare turned into a supersonic bullet when she saw the beach- something I unexpectedly learned when I had to pull her back with great strength as we jumped down onto Ventry Beach. Like lightening, Blasket galloped across the beach, fully free, fully alive. I had never seen anything quite like her. Like Voodoo, she was filled with great heart and loved the salvation that wind in her mane gave her.
The day topped itself off with a tuna sandwich with “chips” (aka French fries) at Paidi ‘O Shea’s pub, with Blasket waiting patiently outside on her lead rope. The day began and ended beautifully!
I am absolutely loving Ireland, and I so hope that you all are enjoying the journey with me!
More adventure to help the horses continues tomorrow!