As an American, horseback riding in Ireland is a treat. Not only for the gorgeous country, wonderful horses and friendly people; it’s the sheer ease of booking a horseback riding holiday that makes me smile every time that I’m on the Emerald Isle. No matter whether I’m staying in a castle, manor house, four star hotel or a bed and breakfast, the innkeeper or general manager is able to arrange horseback riding on my behalf, often, with short notice. Going horseback riding in Ireland is as easy as ordering a hot cup of tea! Such was the case with Island View Riding Stables. I had asked the general manager of Strandhill Lodge & Suites if there was a place to go horse trekking on the beach and without hesitation, he recommended Island View Riding Stables in County Sligo.
“Going horseback riding in Ireland is as easy as ordering a hot cup of tea!”
Family run farm
I was fortunate to ride with Island View Riding Stables Owner Ursula Schweiger. Ursula, an accomplished equestrian, owns Island View Stables with her husband Raymond O’Connor. The family-owned farm, located in Grange in the West of Ireland, is a “must visit” for equestrians and beginning riders, alike.
If you are not familiar with County Sligo, you will be pleasantly surprised with all of the things to see and do in Co Sligo and you must go to Strandhill. Read my insider tips below.
The family-run farm, situated between Benbulben and the Atlantic in North Sligo, is a horse lovers delight. Drop the non-riders at the Strandhill Golf Course or Voya Seaweed Baths and everyone wins!
Rocco, a 16.2 Irish Draft cross, was the ideal steed for me to ride after two hip replacements. Island View Riding Stables has the best mounting block that I’ve come across in my many years of riding – it’s a ramp. You simply walk up the ramp and swing your leg over the (English) saddle. I should note that the stable offers boots and helmets as the equestrian center offers English riding lessons, jumping and dressage instruction, in addition to beach and bog rides.
I highly recommend a morning horse ride, as the tide will be out. If you have the time, book a special trek of 4 or 5 hours to Dernish Island or O’Connor’s Island, the family’s private island. Rumor has it that Irish fairies inhabit this special island. Our ride took us along gorgeous Donegal Bay and up into the sand dunes of the Wild Atlantic Way. Depending on the riders ability, guests are able to trot or canter along the beach. It’s a fantastic riding experience with plenty of photo opportunities.
The horses at Island View Riding Stables are very well cared for. The stables cater to all ages and riding levels. If you are planning a horseback riding vacation, there is a bed and breakfast next door, as well as a self-catering apartment. We stayed at Strandhill Lodge & Suites, a boutique hotel within walking distance of Voya Seaweed Baths.
Need to know:
Island View Riding Stables offers one hour beach rides, 2 & 3 hour beach and bog rides, island treks of 4 and 5 hours and full day rides, in addition to private riding lessons. Island View Riding Stables is approved by AIRE (Association of Irish Riding Establishments) and Failte Ireland.
If you ask me, County Sligo is one of the forgotten stepchildren of the Republic of Ireland. I had learned about Sligo and Strandhill on a prior visit to Ice House Chill Spa. A member of the prestigious Ireland’s Blue Book properties, Ice House utilized Voya skin care products in the hotel and day spa. I had made a mental note to check out Strandhill in County Sligo on my next visit to Ireland because I was so impressed with the quality of their products. This trip, my husband and I had a chance to try Voya Seaweed Baths – in a word – excellent. We enjoyed the surfing village so much that we stayed several days in March – no surfing this trip! We both experienced one of the best massages of our lives – and that’s saying a lot because I review plenty of spas on my What a Trip blog. We also visited W.B. Yeats grave and joined a local hiking group for an adventure-filled Benbulben Forest walk. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown. Island View Riding Stables is on Instagram as well as Facebook.
If You Go:
Island View Riding Stables 071 91 66156
Mount Temple House
Carns, Grange, County Sligo, Ireland F91N4T1
Island View Riding Stables review, video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a reduced rate on this trail ride for review purposes, however, all opinions are my own.