Preparation is the key to enjoying every ride and riding in Ireland means getting prepared for changeable weather--the Irish like to say that you get all four seasons in one day!
Ireland has a temperate, humid climate due mainly due to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream ensures that Ireland is warmer than other countries at the same latitude. Summers are usually warm and sunny with gentle puffy clouds; a rain shower can occur at any time, but the warmer months usually only have a few wet days. Indeed, rain can occur at any time of year. The frequency of rain is more important than the quantity in maintaining the famous green grass of the Emerald Isle.
An ideal combination for these conditions is a lightweight breathable shirt, which wicks moisture away to keep you cool and comfortable, and a waterproof jacket for protection from the showers.
In spring, autumn and winter, pack a variety of clothes so you can change your attire as the temperatures change. The best solution is to take clothes that can be worn in layers and a combination of short and long-sleeved shirts.
In Case of Rain
Don't let a rain shower spoil your ride--arrive armed with waterproof apparel.
Pack clothes that layer well. One of Dover Saddlery's most popular jackets, the Riding Sport 5-in-1 Jacket, is a good example. On wet, mild days wear the outer jacket alone, and add the vest and inner jacket when there is a chill in the air. This versatile piece can be used for trail riding or schooling.
The Boyne and Arrow jackets from Horseware Ireland are extremely lightweight and will keep you dry, yet cool in warm weather. Both feature ventilation systems for superb breathability--perfect for Ireland's wet, yet mild weather. Tip: When you're in Ireland, stop in and visit the Horseware store and factory in Dundalk, County Louth.
Rubber riding boots are extremely practical on wet days, or you can protect your leather boots from mud with riding boot rubbers. Gloves are useful--try Dublin waterproof fleece gloves or the SSG Mane Event Winter, which are water resistant. Tip: Take two pairs of gloves so one pair can be drying.
Helmets are required by law for riding in Ireland. Choose a style depending on your activity and preference.
For trail riding take clothes that are comfortable. Boots should be broken in, breeches must fit well. Padded underwear and seat savers such as Cashel's Tush Cushion or the Equine Comfort Sheepskin Seat Saver will make long days in the saddle more enjoyable. Take at least two pairs of breeches or tights for your trip--in the summer consider breathable breeches such as the Enduracool from Tropical Rider or Aerocool from TuffRider. The Irideon Cadence stretch cord tights, breathable, lightweight and featuring 4-way stretch, are also a great choice.
The Mountain Horse Sportive High Rider with zipper is an excellent riding boot. An alternative to long boots is half chaps and paddock boots.
Hunt Seat Training
Consider Tailored Sportsman or Riding Sport breeches and the Dover Pro Field Boot. The Troxel Grand Prix Classic Show Helmet and GPA Helmet are very good choices for headwear.
Cross Country Training
Wear a body protector--the Tipperary Eventer vest and the Flex Rider II Body Protector are good choices. A helmet such as the Charles Owen skull cap is essential. Look for stretch and comfort in breeches and or tights, as you will be very active on the cross-country course.
If full dress is required, wear a black coat and hunting cap with chin strap, stock tie, buff or white breeches and leather or rubber boots.
If attending a dressage clinic in the summer, look for moisture-wicking fabrics such as Coolmax. Take boots such as the Dover Piaffe Dressage Boot to look and feel the part, and pack a boot care kit to stay polished. Tip: Breeches only have to be white if you are entering a class during your trip.
Boot and hat bags, such as those available from Ariat, will protect your special items--or treat yourself to custom bags from Dover, which can be monogrammed and come in a wide range of colors. A protective boot box will keep your boots from getting damaged in transit. To pack all your apparel, the Gearmax Equestrian backpack is very useful.
Read "Irish Idyll" in the August 2005 issue of Practical Horseman magazine as a rider samples almost everything an Irish equestrian vacation can offer.