Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair
We were lucky enough to win some tickets for a day out to Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair. I must start off by thanking Neighcations.com for the opportunity. We had never visited Tattersalls before and it was an amazing day. Here is just some of the action we captured on our mobiles. We were honestly enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t want to spend too much time turning it into a work day out.
We started our journey very early on the Saturday morning. Kids shipped off, picnics packed, rain gear just in case… It is Ireland after all. After a few hiccups, someone’s alarm not going off, we managed to arrive safe and sound.
Tattersalls is a wonderful venue, good helpful staff, easy to access, great facilities and plenty of places for viewing the action. It is well worth the time and effort and we would recommend that you should go at least once.
We didn’t check out the shopping village mainly because we were too excited and wanted to spend our time taking in the course and watching the riders. Our wallets thanked us. Me let loose on a horse shop is never going to end well.
While it is a great day out, I did find that even the best of us eventually need a break and no better place than the green green grass.
Here are some links to pages and websites with more photos:
Cooper’s Hill organise different packages for those wishing to hunt in Ireland.
During August, we can organise exercising the hounds with the huntmasters. This is mounted and no jumping is involved.
Cost is e150 and allow at least 4 hours for this option.
In September, there is cubbing. I would allow at least 5 hours in your schedule for this option. It is an early morning start, attire is casual but neat. If there is jumping it is usually just small obstacles. Cost is e170
From October to March, it is the hunt season proper.
Your day will start at approximately 9am and continue until 5pm..
Total cost including horse hire is e350.
To help riders prepare for foxhunting in Ireland, either for their first time or to brush up on some skills, we can also organise clinics.
Cost of the clinic is e150 and they are organised throughout the year, not just during hunt season, for groups of 4 or more riders. Allow at least 3 hours in your day for this option.
It was a promising start to the morning as the heavy showers abated. Two of Coopers Hill horses and riders were to hunt at the Moyvilla meet. It is popular meet every season, as it brings out the best in the Huntsman and Master David Burke. I guess everyone has their favourite meet for their own reasons. I am still forming opinions on which hunt on our card is best but, Moyvilla would be among my favourites.
As we drove up to the meet, the skies were clearing nicely with the air temperature considerably cooler than previous days. Coopers Hill had a first time hunt participant from North America, a Canadian to be more precise. Andrea Ypma, was exceptionally excited to be part of the foot followers. She had just arrived in Ireland two days previously for three long weeks of immersing herself in the Irish Hunting culture with us at Coopers Hill Livery. The wall builder was tasked with the very important job of escorting Andrea to all the finest places to watch the fox bolt and view some of the horses jump walls.
When all the pleasantries and New Years greetings were bid to each and every member, followers and staff, the Master then made for the first cover. It was no more than 200 yards from the parking area. The hounds were putting in a good effort at Tommy Ford’s covert.
The master pushed the hounds to find, encouraging them to do their level best. There was no result even with all the extra persuasion. Nothing to bolt in this covert. The next option was to move on and head to a new covert about a mile away heading north east to the Moyvilla castle, negotiating an upward jump out on to the road landing in the grass margin before gingerly moving onto the asphalt. All riders and horses got out onto the road and a nice hack ensued to the turn into Ray Bohan’s and onto the Moyvilla castle covert.
The hounds were screaming inside the covert there was a considerable amount of tongue. We suspected there was more than one fox in the covert. The foxes set inside, out of view, but now moving by the sound of the direction of the hounds tongue. It’s a brace hollered one of the riders. The hounds were about to split. The shout of “leave it” was promptly verbalised in order to prevent what seemed like an inevitability, a split pack, and this shout kept the pack together on the most favourable scent. The fox then bolted. Pandemonium ensued and the hounds were off, quick on his tail. “Come along“was the call of the moment, uttered by more than one of the field and by the master. I suspected the field was seeing the action unfold from the bluff on the north side of the castle as the fox first headed west to the railway lines of the Dublin Galway train. The master played a blinder in turning the fox east and preventing him from crossing tracks and ending our chase. The fox doubled back heading east and later west again. Fearing the wrath of the master and his hounds in pursuit, the fox promptly made a swift swing north east to avoid the pack. This very healthy, quick Charlie with the hounds in toe was making good sport of the chase with stone walls coming into view in rapid succession. Wall after wall at a full gallop the field was getting strung out. I was in the field giving chase when there was a stopper at one of the walls.
Heels down, I burst through on my ISH, Seamus, and helped the field continue; only taking a check at a sharp bend and steading at walls in order to hit the sweet spot when traversing the obstacles of Moyvilla country. The fox by now had turned north east and ran from Paddy Fords farm yard back to the covert in Tommy Ford’s field where the Master marked the den that Charlie entered. I was astonished with the speed of the hounds and fox. I was in awe of the masters skills in preventing the fox from putting the field and hounds in danger by turning Charlie back from the train tracks, bravo Master Burke.
Once marked, Master Burke gathered all his hounds, took a headcount and congratulated some of his hounds by name. Preacher and Prancer were praised. Not even an hour in and we had some fantastic sport. The day was panning out to be one for the record books.
We again jumped out onto the road and headed back to the castle. Within ten minutes the hounds had bolted the second fox which had returned to the covert after the brace earlier. This time we chased hard but this fox did not turn back from the railway tracks. Charlie headed for a covert the far side of the railway tracks in Hughie Higgen’s covert. It seemed only like minutes before the hounds found again. Another brace, calls from both sides of the covert. One of the calls would allow for more sport. The master was on to the better call, but our progress was hampered by young cattle getting involved in the proceedings so care had to be foremost in our minds. We had to walk until we were clear of the herd. The hounds were swiftly on the way and out of sight by now on to the next covert about three hundred yards away with six walls to be negotiated, each one stronger than the next. I had hardly time to catch my breath. The record books will tout this day, a day full of sport for huntsman hound and field. This was a glorious and exciting day for one and all, with hardly a moment to catch up and socialise with friends in the field as we were constantly on the move. We were off again, drops, hedges, ploughed fields, mud and rock, it didn’t matter. Some shoes were lost but still hunting- bulls in fields, wire fences- there was nothing to stop these hounds this day.
The hounds found again near Sean Keane’s and quickly chased for the Derrydonnell forest. There was a national road between both points and there was no way to cut the hounds off. Master Burke was on Charlie’s tail and he did his best to prevent any harm coming to the hounds and road users alike. The pace of this hunt was frantic, everyone was all a bustle to give chase. We had jumped five or six strong double and triple wide stone walls. Horses were failing under the strain as they had to negotiate a nice four foot drop from the main road into the forestry property in order to give chase. Master Burke explained; “I am not about to spend the afternoon in the woods I have called the pack off Charlie. There is more sport to be had elsewhere. “
Coopers Hill was having the day of their lives. I couldn’t imagine that it could get any better. We traversed the national route and we went back to Jim Dwyers, the last property on the way to the wood and the first back to the covert on the other side of the road. We found again and the field gave chase, jumping wall after wall until a loud cry “hold hard.” The cry was reinforced by other members in the field. Something must be wrong! The secretary jumped from her horse and hurried back to a fallen rider. I stopped to gather up the horses of the riders that had dismounted. There were three responders which hinted that this was a serious incident. A rider had crashed to the ground and was not moving. What we all fear. A seasoned rider, we all respected, just go it a little wrong at a wall with a hedge covering the high stone structure. Minutes stretched out, and seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t see any movement from the fallen rider. Your mind can not help but worry and be thankful all at the same time that it wasn’t yourself lying there. Finally, I saw the rider’s lower arm rise up a little from the ground. Thank the lord. The responders seemed less concerned as the minutes passed from that point on, the rider stood up after a few more moments with some support from members of the field. At this point the Master thought it prudent to call it a day, a very good decision.
Andrea, our guest for the next three weeks, who was taking the National Geographic quality shots, rode the fallen rider’s horse home. Not the usual way to introduce a guest to hunting, but it was a reminder for Andrea that hunting in Ireland is very different to hunting in New York and for the most part, North America. A great day, a tough day and but for the grace of god, a day we can all remember, bar one member. Later on that day even the fallen rider began to recollect this marvellous day. It would have been a shame for the fallen rider if that hunt was a lost memory. What a fantastic master we the Grallagh harriers have. Sincere thanks to master David Burke and his staff who gave the field and followers a great days’ sport.
Hunting is an important part of the equine industry in both England and Ireland. In addition to the heritage associated with the sport itself, it also contributes to other facets of the equine industry e.g. improving the confidence and courage of show jumpers and helping racing trainers to test horses over the diverse terrains of the Hunting Field. Unless one is closely affiliated to traditional hunting circles, the continuity of hunting knowledge from generation to generation is scant at best. Although there is vast amount of literature available on hunting it can be difficult to interpret or translate the written word onto the Hunting Field. It is therefore very important to maintain the tradition of hunting and a core element of this is an understanding of hunting etiquette.
Budding young equestrian riders, many of who in fact begin hunting as an equine pursuit, are clearly critical to the passing on of hunting knowledge.
It is our firm belief that education is required to prevent the loss of this tradition and to help improve the day’s sport by assisting the Huntsman as a member of the field rather than hindering their efforts to hunt.
At Coopers Hill Livery our goal is to help riders that have never hunted in Ireland, improving their hunting etiquette from all aspects including dress attire, horse turnout and the ability to cross the country. Thus we aim to help them to enjoy the whole experience of a day’s hunting in a manner that will also help them to contribute to preserving the heritage of the sporting tradition that they are continuing.
Coopers Hill Livery’s inaugural hunt clinic took place on November 7th 2014 with our experienced team overseeing simulations of what an actual hunting day is like and how to negotiate the renowned stonewalls of County Galway.
The clinic has a realistic component that focuses on covering the ground at the correct pace, safely keeping the correct distance so that you allow the horse in front of you enough time to negotiate the obstacle. We go on several runs encountering natural terrain, which are predominantly walls, ditches and hedges. Everything is fully explained by our experienced team and there is an opportunity for questions at the end of each phase.
If you are looking to start hunting or brush up on your existing skills then the Hunt Clinic is for you. The Hunt Clinic gives you an insight of what to expect when you arrive for your first hunt and will give you the confidence to hunt well and safely in Ireland and most of all enjoy the thrills and spills of this wonderful country pursuit!
For the past few years we have entertained many guests from the trail rider to the cowboy. To say it has been memorable is an understatement. Legends have been made, and one particular legend we are proud of is Susu of Susu’s Bakery Boutique, Wellsley, Boston, USA. Susu had rarely jumped, never hunted her whole life in fact, only a little over a year previous she suffered a bad fall and injured her hand. To be fair we told her we would take good care of her and matched her to the perfect mount, a nice steady Irish cob called Midnight. He would be her noble steed for the weekend.
What can be said about Midnight that has not already been said…….Nothing really. He is a champ in every sense of the word, with his foamy mouth, intelligent face, dark good looks and standing 16 hands high he is guided from one joyous jump to the next in a snaffle bit. He measures every fence to a “T” and takes it all in his stride. While he may not be the fastest with his feather brushing the floor, he often leaves the faster ones in his wake at the following obstacle. You see Midnight is magic and he makes magic happen every time he is out hunting or jumping. He safely and honestly carries his charge from point to point picking his spot carefully so as not to give too much for the rider or himself to do. What they call in the business – a push button ride.
Susu was out of practice and had never jumped much in America. There never seemed to be enough time for her to devote to jumping, or the right horse, the right trainer to push her out of her comfort zone, instead she was a happy hacker. She had always wanted to hunt, but didn’t know the best way to get started. Susu was made aware of Cooper’s Hill through another foxhunting client. It was suggested that if she was going to hunt, she should start by learning with the best there is, the Irish.
Susu got in contact and asked us what she would have to do to prepare for hunting. We bandied around ideas such as glueing her butt to a saddle, tying her feet under the horses’ belly, getting handle bars for the saddle. Man we exhausted lots of options and laughed doing so.
I advised her to take the HUNTING BOOTCAMP. The boot camp is designed for riders that have some know how, the will to learn and succeed, but need a “royal” kick in the ass from a drill sergeant type, such as myself. I duly obliged Susu, often using some colourful language in the process. Not for the faint hearted but I must admit, I take questions, I give praise when it is due and I am fair. I push you to succeed to find your limits, I don’t know what you are capable of but it doesn’t take me long to find out. When you take it to those limits, nothing will beat that feeling of pride in your achievement.
As an instructor I had no idea of Susu’s abilities, and because of this I always take newcomers to the beach to see how they navigate the city traffic en route. It gives me a better idea of what each rider can cope with.
Bear in mind this ladies dream was to go fox hunting and Coopers Hill was planning to make that dream a reality. But hunting is a risky sport you can meet all sorts of obstacles on the road with traffic passing, big trucks full of horses and often hounds too parking at the start of the meet. You can also come across some unruly horses that are next to you as you commence your hunt.
So the ride to the beach offers me an opportunity to gauge how the rider reacts and copes with a horse they have never ridden before in a stressful environment. The roads to the beach are busy, full of heavy, noisy traffic. There are many obstacles to pass before we arrive at the beach. Road works, traffic lights, roundabouts, bridges, trains and even an army firing range all have to be dealt with. Most people we have visiting us have only ever ridden in the safe, controlled environment of a barn, trails on a private property or show arenas. While our horses are immune to all the distractions en route to the beach, it is useful for me to observe the riders to see how they react. How they assess and deal with a situation they, more than likely, have never been in before.
The route to the beach has dogs coming out of driveways akin to a hound running from a hedge, a bicycle passing by at speed similar to the speed at which the hunts man makes his move and you the rider need to be orderly. You need to be ready for anything and the beach ride tests you reactions.
The next morning Susu came for a jumping lesson in our arena. To say it started out ugly was an understatement. I should underscore this. Wait guys the story has an almost Hollywood ending but definitely a happy ending. We practiced, she grimaced, I cursed, I explained, I demonstrated and always Susu said “I’ll do better next time”. Alas it was coming together. It’s Saturday morning and she graduated jumping class 101. Time for a celebration! Indeed not… it was straight onto the next class, Cross Country! But we did pause for lunch.
The cross country course is a daunting 50 fence mix of stiff and easy fences. Some fences are manmade, some natural features including; up turned boats, drops, multi-colored coops, roll tops, water features, bull finch, you get the idea. She had never jumped like this EVER in her life. Thoughts of her demise must have been passing through Susu’s mind at this stage as we rolled up to the complex and especially once she saw the massive water feature as we rounded the bend on our way into the parking lot. “Oh my God” was uttered several times, as only a good Boston Catholic girl can utter. I didn’t give her time to think. Right lets get the horses out and mount up and get our warm up done. In between all the hustle and bustle of getting warmed up I did encourage this dare devil and reassured her that if anything did go wrong we would give her a fine Irish send off.
Please watch the attached video to see her effort, not always pretty but she got it done and she was keen. She showed determination and guts over some impressive obstacles. Susu applied what she had learned that morning to these intimidating jumps, she was thrown in the deep end and she swam!! She made it! SUPER, she had made it. Susu got there in the end and received her certificate of completion. Afterwards a group hug was the order of the day and a strong drink. Not sure which was stronger the drink or her clasp around us all, the clasp a living person can only give after a mighty feat! So far the woman’s efforts were remarkable.
Now that Friday is done and Saturday is over you are all assuming a rest day follows for the brave lady. No chance! I am a monster! At least, that’s what I have heard said, tongue in cheek, for asking Susu to do a hunt after all that went before. But this was Susu’s dream she had set a goal for herself and was keen to grasp it with both hands. My philosophy is that if the rider stops to think what they have done, or are about to do, they would never do it. She had achieved so much in such a short time, I had to keep the momentum going.
Susu’s first hunt was scheduled for Sunday morning which commenced at 11 am. We arrived at the yard early, and I kept her busy getting her mount ready barking orders here and there more of a distraction tactic than anything else. There was no time to pause or think, only time to act. With a few careful words I prepared her for what lay ahead, and gave her a good confidence boost. Having confidence in yourself out hunting is a necessity. I gave her an extra boost and told her I would never leave her side. We loaded up our horses and were ready for the meet. Boy the walls were challenging that day. Like really tough. Aboard the trusty Midnight, Susu rode valiantly, took a fall or two but got up and kept riding. She set the bar really high for all Americans. She was so brave and committed to doing her first hunt. I did exclaim as she was about to stop and quit, at one point that there was no way out of the place she was in unless she jumped out either alone or with me. Out came the stiff upper lip and Catholic school tenacity and onward she went. That evening in the pub every rider was calling her The Legend. The hunt we rode with that day had never seen such hardiness, grit and determination from anyone especially when they were told of the ladies history. She had proved her worth with the hardest of them all, the Irish hunters.
She is now known as the legend and her picture from that day out hunting resides on the wall of Dover Saddlery, Wellsley, Boston, MA.
It took a long weekend to make that lady become a legend with lifelong memories and a renewed love for horses and their abilities. Since hunting with us she has competed in hunter jumper shows and has done so successfully. I saw the rosettes, they can’t be denied.
We would like to help book your weekend at Cooper’s Hill and do the same for you. Renew your interest in horses and riding or to make a dream come true for you. We book everything for you, all you need to do is just show up with your riding apparel. We organize shuttles from Dublin Airport, Meet you at the terminal in Galway and might even have a stiff drink to get your “braveometer” up and running. We organize your hotel and book your beach trek, jumping lesson, Cross country and make requests to the Grallagh Harriers Masters to allow visitors hunt with them. Call or email, our pigeon carrier service is out of order at the moment so you’ll have to do the electronic thing.