This morning is another glorious day of sunshine and lovely Irish air. It even smells fresh here.
Most of us enjoyed a wonderful night's sleep. Not only are the rooms warm and comfortable, the beds are delightful. Several other people mentioned this to me as well.
The group meets in the Kinnitty Castle dining room named Sli Dala, and most of us have a tough time deciding what to try first. The sideboard is laid out with a beautiful array of scones, croissants, cereals, juices, fruits and more. Of course, being hardy riders, many of us opt for the traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans, puddings, mushrooms and more. Some of us are too excited to eat! It is such fun being part of this group.
After breakfast, we go to the stable to mount up. The horses are absolutely gorgeous! The majority of the herd are hunt horses and are huge, fit and ready to go. These are very well trained animals used to hunting. The lovely equestrienne proprietress Dorothy and her stable hands Charon and Suzanna do a fabulous job sorting out who is going to be matched with which particular horse.
Due to the different levels of abilities we are divided into two groups. The first group is largely comprised of riders with some experience but who have not ridden in a while, or who want to brush up a bit. The second field features polished riders who are ready for a good run. I found myself in the second field riding Dorothy's daughter's 4-year-old Connemara--a dream come true for me! These Irish horses are unbelievable. Most of them are large Irish Sport Horses with a "can-do" attitude.
The stable hands must have worked for days scrubbing, clipping and shining these beautiful animals, because they look ready for the show ring.
Off we go up lovely dirt roads to the heights of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The views are breathtaking and the deeply scented pine forests are delicious. These horses march through everything without as much as a wink. Up steep hills we go, through towering forests, over rushing streams. The day is filled with sunshine, and the green fields of different hues making up the scenery below sparkle.
For lunch, we stop at a sweet little log cabin (complete with covered front porch) and have a picnic. Some of our mounts enjoy our apples, and everyone is happy for a short rest.
We arrive back here at the Castle in time for cocktails and a short meeting to discuss the Bachelor's Ball! The event coordinator has spent hours organizing what promises to be a fabulous time. She takes a few minutes to outline the timeline for the evening, and Carmen, the woman at the spa, showed me a few Irish "steps." Carmen told me that the tickets to this ball are greatly sought after and some people are even coming over from England and beyond. There will be dancing and great fun. It's a good thing I am staying an extra day to recover. These people are night owls. When we arrived yesterday at about 7:30 a.m. the guests from the wedding the day before had just gone to bed!!
I cannot wait to have dinner again tonight--my big decision will be lobster thermidor or trout almonde. And should I really limit myself to only one decadent dessert? More