When we first pulled into the driveway of Castle Leslie Estate, I spied the sign for Castle Leslie Equestrian Centre. I was giddy with excitement. Even though my husband is not an equestrian, he was able to accommodate my desires for a horseback riding vacation without compromising his holiday. That’s why Castle Leslie is the perfect vacation destination in Ireland. There is so much to do in County Monaghan and specifically on this private estate for the horse crazy and the outdoorsman, or those simply looking to relax in the country.
Our visit was in March and the weather cooperated during our stay. My husband walked around the woods of the 1,000 acre estate while I went on a hack through the forested grounds. I confess that I was a little nervous for my one hour walk/trot/canter as I have had two hip replacements and I didn’t want to hold any of the others back on our ride. My worry was for not, as all 5 of us, including our guide Orla, got on famously during our trail ride. All of the instructions at Castle Leslie Equestrian Centre are BHSAI certified, having passed exams from the British Horse Society.
Horse riding on Castle Leslie’s 1,000 acre estate
There are 52 horse at the equestrian centre, including lesson horses and ponies for the younger equestrians. With 56 stables, a 50×30 meter indoor arena and 20×50 dressage arena, Castle Leslie attracts top talent for horse clinics. I was very impressed with Equestrian Business Manager Jenny Richardson and her staff. The horses were top notch, and the leather tack was in excellent shape. Castle Leslie also offers boots and helmets on loan for your horse riding vacation.
“What is there not to like at Castle Leslie Equestrian centre?” notes Jenny Richardson. “We have 25 miles of off road hacking, over 300 Cross Country fences, 52 horses and 100 acres of woodland and fields. For any equestrian person this is heaven! We have everything from the happy hacker to the flying armchair and something to suit all riders. It certainly makes me smile every day.”
Nancy Brown riding side saddle in front of Castle Leslie
Need to know:
Castle Leslie offers a one day horse riding holiday to five day riding vacations. Castle Leslie is an AIRE approved riding establishment (Association Irish Riding Establishment) and BHS approved training center, livery yard and riding center. There is a horse simulator for those wanting a little practice ride before getting on the horse. All riders must sign a safety waiver and wear a riding helmet when out on the trail or during riding lessons. With 21 miles of bridle paths, equestrians will never take the same trail ride twice. In fact, you can go horseback riding somewhere different for an entire week!
Horse riding holiday at Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie’s history with horses goes back a long way; 353 years to be exact. I had the opportunity to ride side saddle on a saddle that was, shall we say, priceless. It was a one-of-a kind, 300 year old antique saddle that fit Percy beautifully. That’s me riding Percy, the smart looking Irish cob, in the photo above. I can’t imagine how ladies rode in their gowns like this, but I had my moment of fame. It’s opportunities like these that make your stay at Castle Leslie special. The staff and all of the riding instructors go out of their way to make your holiday memorable.