I was just finishing mucking out when Mary came into the barn and asked;
“Would you like to go on a hack to Kilruddery? I want to give Lily some exercise”
The look on my face said it all, “Good, get Honey in, tack her up, we leave at 10”
Soon we were on our way with the two horses in the box behind, Kilruddery only 15 minutes away from Enniskerry
Kilruddery is a huge sprawling place on the East coast, ideal for cross-country
We walked them through the dense forest, the November colours all golden reds and russets
Out into the close-cropped winter fields, a steady trot takes us to the higher ground, on the side of the Little Sugar Loaf
Mary greets some hill walkers making their way to the top, turns to me
“Now keep Honey close to me, Lily will take off, but you must try to keep up”
Lily is Mary’s hunter , a huge grey Irish Sport Horse with a big gallop. Lily is hard to hold back, snorting, throwing her head, dancing on the spot
Honey is also a grey, a bit of a plod, with a big heart.
We are on a high track cantering amid the thick gorse. Lily spooks sharp left startled by a shook up pheasant in the undergrowth. Mary sits well. Honey doing her best to keep up
Mary shouts back, “Have a look over your shoulder” Not easy trying to sit on a galloping horse.
I glance quickly at Killiney and over the grey stillness of Dublin Bay
We are fast cantering now and Mary again points out – Greystones this time
Another glance over the Irish sea. The mountains of Wales, so far yet so near. Amazing
Honey is running out of puff, Lily far out of sight. When we catch up we’re looking out over Glen of the Downs and the tiny golfers in the distance
Mary says, “I couldn’t hold her, Lily is so strong, too much thoroughbred in her..”
Honey is trying to recover, taking fast shallow breaths. We go back through the sheep covered countryside into the forest. Mary is happy, says its good for the horses, letting them gallop away in their own place.
I think she is relieved to have stayed sat on Lily all the way
Two hours later we are back at the box. Tired but exhilarated.
The drinking man couldn’t see all this
The drinking man wouldn’t have been here!