Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 23 February 2018

Ladies saddle up for the hunting and more at mammoth event

POPULAR: Riders from the US and Europe will travel to Galway and Meath next month for a side saddle hunting weekend, organised by Susan Oakes (left) JENNIFER O’SULLIVAN
POPULAR: Riders from the US and Europe will travel to Galway and Meath next month for a side saddle hunting weekend, organised by Susan Oakes (left) JENNIFER O’SULLIVAN

Catriona Murphy

More than 150 ladies are expected to travel to counties Meath and Galway to take part in a side saddle hunting extravaganza next month.

Riders from the United States, Britain and continental Europe have already booked their flights to take part in the mammoth side saddle event that will see ladies ride with the Tara Harriers in Co Meath and the Grallagh Harriers in Co Galway.

Side saddle rider Susan Oakes is the driving force behind the weekend, which will also include a hunt ball, formal reception and a traditional Irish ceili session.

The side saddle hunting weekend will begin on Friday November 29 with champagne reception in the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells. The reception will be followed by a fun hunting-themed ceili night with lots of hunting songs, music and anecdotes and poems.

On Saturday, November 30, the ladies will attend a lawn meet of the Tara Harriers, hosted by Orini Jackson and Nevill Jessop at Brittas House.

Riders will be given their allotted horse at the meet and all the hirelings will be steady, comfortable and sensible types with brakes and steering. Smaller ladies and children will ride some top class Connemara hunting ponies and smaller cobs.

All hirelings will have been schooled side saddle before the day of the hunt and will have hunted the country before.

"The day's country will consist of parkland and farmland. Going should be good and jumping will consist of ditches, banks, fly fences and uprights as we will be hunting in an area where there is an extensive cross country course," explained Susan.

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"A non-jumping route will be led by Imelda O'Donnell, lady Master of the Tara Harriers, who will be riding side saddle for the day. Remember even if you are not jumping you will need to be confident to gallop on, sometimes over uneven ground."

Later that evening, the attention will turn to glitz and glamour for the black tie Tara Harriers hunt ball back at the Headfort Arms.

On Sunday, December 1, the bus leaves at 9.30am to get all the riders to Co Galway for a 1.30pm pub meet of the Grallagh Harriers.

"The second day's hunting will comprise farmland and jumping will consist mainly of stone walls. Do not be put off by the idea of jumping stone walls, the horses hunt this country all the time and are experienced at the safe negotiation of it," said Susan.

"The route will involve a lot of jumping but you should be able to peel off and join the non- jumping party if you get tired."

Riders are welcome to join in some or all of the activities. Horse hire costs €100, the cap for each day's hunting is €50 per day and side saddle hire costs €40 per day. For more information, contact Susan Oakes on 086 0842994 or check out the Side Saddle Association of Ireland on Facebook.

Irish Independent