Castle Leslie Estate?in Ireland is an equestrian?s dream vacation destination, especially if you’re into cross country. There are over 300 jumps sprinkled throughout the one thousand acre estate, not to mention an indoor arena and lovely Prince, the mechanical horse who made my inner thighs shake after a few minutes of two-point. Sammy Leslie, an avid equestrian and a member of the Leslie family, was helping me better my form.?
I found the mechanical horse really helpful. Instead of straining to hear an instructor yell to you as you circle around a ring or are out on the trails battling environmental noises, you get a more intimate critique of what you’re doing wrong… or right!?
My travel companion Julie and I had arrived to Castle Leslie in the rain, not a huge surprise for Ireland. Our GPS had taken us on a roundabout route so we didn’t enter the estate through the main gate, but through the entrance beside the new equestrian center. We left the car outside of the limestone castle where we?d be staying and entered.?
Candles lit in the main entrance, and a woman in a plaid jumper greeted us and gave us giant keys to our rooms. I felt like I was in a dramatic period film of sorts or even “Downton Abbey,” as I walked up the grand stairs to The Blue Room with its walls adorned with old sketches and paintings of Leslie family members and a great view of one of the three estate lakes.?
After a scrumptious lunch by a cozy fire and scones with tea and clotted cream, I saddled up on a very tall Irish horse. Julie mounted a spirited pony. Earlier, we?d explored the estate in a horse drawn carriage and now we were off to explore the grounds on horseback. We rode through a forested trail down a long straightway with jumps at various intervals and up past one of the older gates to the estate.?
I could smell garlic as we rode, and looked down to see that much of the forest floor is covered in wild garlic. Smelling it made me think of dinner and how afterwards and after my ten days of riding in Ireland, how much I?d enjoy sleeping in the luxury of eccentric Castle Leslie.
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