Last updated on November 25, 2023
Our daughter lives in Ireland- currently with three horses, a pony (and dog and cats). If you know her, you can guess that there will be a few more horses. Maybe rescue horses, or maybe boarders…
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The horses are on their own pastures with open stables, a sandy yard and a view of the sea. The beach is only a few minutes’ walk away.
Are you already a little envious?
Then you are a horse fan. I wrote this article for you.
Horse fans can’t really miss Ireland. Equestrian sports are written in capital letters in many variations and recreational riding is also widespread here. There are numerous horse races, shows and events around the horse and horse fairs and auctions are also a must in the calendar of Irish horse fans.
And those who don’t ride are sure to bet on the horse races, which are also broadcast in pubs all over the country. The traditional Irish horse breeds are much revered and people are happy to meet horses while walking on the beach.
So, here come 17 inspiring tips for your Irish horse holiday now:
1. The Dublin Horse Show – showcase of the Irish equestrian world
That really says it all. Ireland’s largest equestrian event takes place every year in August.
Numerous sporting and show events are on the programme. More information is available at www.diblinhorseshow.com.
2. Irish National Stud in Kildare – thoroughbreds and a magnificent estate
Even non-riders will enjoy a trip to the Irish National Stud. The extensive estate is truly beautiful and the lovely stables and paddocks with the even prettier noble thoroughbreds will delight.
There is also a small horse museum and a Japanese garden with a café-restaurant. More information at: www.irishnationalstud.ie.
3. Fast as the wind – horse racing
Horse racing is the national sport and the lifeblood of the Irish. The races are broadcast in the pubs and betting is everywhere. Everyone is a bit of a racing connoisseur, or at least thinks they are.
Two of the most famous racecourses are Leopardstown, Dublin (www. leopardstown.com) and The Curragh, near Kildare (www.curragh.ie).
But there are many more racecourses scattered all over the island.
More information can be found here: www.goracing.ie.
4. Higher, faster, further – Eventing
Eventing is the Olympic discipline of eventing and is very popular in Ireland. You can find the eventing calendar here: www.eventingireland.com.
Showjumping is also very popular and widespread all over the island. More information can be found here: www.sji.ie.
5. Horse Racing on the Beach: The Laytown Races
Since 1868 these races have been held at Laytown north of Dublin. On sand, in the mudflats, in splashing water – where else can you find something like that?
You can find the homepage here: https://laytownstrandraces.ie/.
6. Killarney, the town of taxi carriages
Killarney is a bustling town in the southwest of Ireland. Surrounded by the magnificent mountains of Killarney National Park, it is only a stone’s throw – pardon the pun – from the Ring of Kerry coastal road. It offers itself as a starting point for all kinds of beautiful excursions and activities.
A special feature is that the townscape is dominated by nippy horse-drawn carriages, which you can take to your activities and sightseeing, or simply go for a ride.
A highlight is, for example, taking the excursion boat up the river and returning to Killarney by horse-drawn carriage.
7. Take a horse-drawn carriage to the Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is a great day out near Killarney. From the village of Dinloe, a small road winds up through the mountains to the pass, the Gap. You can hike the road, take a carriage ride, or both.
I wouldn’t recommend driving there, as the single-lane road is really too narrow for that. See: www.gapofdunloe.com.
8. The Connemara Pony Festival in Clifden
Connemaras are not chubby ponies, but elegant and sporty horses or small horses.
You can see them in action. Where? In Connemara, of course, not far from Galway.
Here is more information: https://www.galwaytourism.ie/event/connemara-pony-festival/.
9. Ballinasloe International October Fair and Festival
You can join in the celebration of Ballinasloe’s 301st Horse Festival at https://www.galwaytourism.ie/event/ballinasloe-international-october-fair-festival/.
It takes place every October and is Europe’s largest open air horse market – an incredible experience. Ballinasloe is also in the west, not far from Galway.
10. The Puck Fair in Killorglin – lots of horses and a billy goat.
Why a billy goat? The puck, or billy goat, is the symbol of Ireland’s oldest festival. Killorglin is second only to Killarney in the southwest.
If you want to experience not only horses but also a good atmosphere and lots of music, the Puck Fair is recommended: www.puckfair.ie.
11. Riding holidays in Ireland – conveniently organised
There are several tour operators on the market that offer riding holidays all over the world – and also to Ireland.
The advantages: If you don’t speak English well, it is easier to book in German. It is also easier to clarify queries and there will be other German-speaking participants on the trip. In addition, good tour operators test their providers on site and can sort out the “black sheep” and recommend which offer suits you best.
Disadvantage: This will of course be much more expensive, because the tour operator wants to get paid for his work.
Some providers are: www.pferdesafari.de, www.pferdreiter.de, www.reiten-weltweit.de or www.reiterreisen.com.
12. Riding holiday in Ireland – organise it yourself
If you are comfortable with English and travelling, you can also do your own research to find a good local riding holiday provider. Do some research on the internet and look for reviews.
Take a look at the address on Google Maps in the satellite view or on Street View, then you can see what it looks like.
Here are some addresses for you: www.irishhorseriding.com, www.sheanshorsefarm.com, www.hollywood-horse-and-pony-trekking.business.site, www.castlefergusequestrian.com, www.croaghpatrickhostelandcottages.ie/horse-riding, www.killarneyridingstables.com, www.tullaghbayequestrian.ie.
13. Like the old travellers – on tour with a horse-drawn caravan
If you prefer a more leisurely pace, you can also spend your horse holiday in a horse-drawn caravan. These are usually quite pretty colourful wooden carriages, modelled on the old gypsy caravans.
They are usually pulled by a well-behaved Irish Cob and even non-riders get a little instruction and get on well. A very special camping experience for the whole family.
Some providers: www.clissmannhorsecaravans.com/horse-caravans, www.horsedrawncaravan.com, www.irishhorsedrawncaravans.com, www.horsedrawncaravans.com.
14 With feeling – Horsemanship in Ireland
Horsemanship has found its way from America to Europe. Already very common in Germany, it is still rather rare in Ireland. The Irish are still very faithful to their own riding tradition.
Horsemanship is not a uniform term. Perhaps the best known are Pat Parelli or Monty Roberts, but there are also many other systems and trainers.
Here are a few addresses in Ireland: http://www.parelliinstructors-ireland.com, www.montyroberts.com/learning-center/certified-instructors/ireland, www.irishschoolofhorsemanship.com, https://irishhorsemanship.com, www.caitrionaomeara.ie/natural-horsemanship/.
15. Western Riding? Unfortunately very rare in Ireland…
Western riding is still considered very exotic in tradition-conscious Ireland. A pity really. But I have found one provider: www.drumcoura.ie. Maybe you can find some more…
16 Riding out on the beach – it doesn’t get any better than this.
Ireland has really beautiful beaches – what could be better than galloping across the sand while the wind ruffles your hair?
Nothing! Yes, exactly!
Some of the providers from Point 12. also offer beach rides. You can find some more here: www.horse-holiday-farm.com, www.dunfanaghystables.com, islandviewridingstables.com., dindlehorseriding.com.
17. To the horizon and beyond – multi-day trail rides
If you can’t get enough of riding and want to go on a multi-day trail ride, Ireland is the place for you.
Check out: www.reiten-weltweit.de, www.pferdesafari.de, www.bookhorseridingholidays.com, www.pferdreiter.de, www.reitferien-in-irland.de.
These are just a few of the many possibilities you will find as a horse lover in Ireland.
By the way, many of the above suggestions are also super fun for non-riding parents.
So you can wonderfully combine a camping holiday with a horse show, a carriage ride and a nice beach ride for the daughter (or son).
With this in mind – always stay on top and have fun in Ireland!