I was one of ten ladies who rode side saddle at the hunt in Meath that year. The meet was held at Carlanstown, Kells, Co. Meath and I was lucky enough to be given a stable at Kiernan’s pub where the meet was to take place, and accommodation just outside the village- after a 4 hour drive, (and a €200 fee for a tyre replacement on the way!) I finally deposited Tex in the lovely stable and made my way to a dinner party where we were all entertained until the early hours of the morning. I was so sick with nerves that I hardly slept that night at all! The morning dawned, and down I went to feed and plait my horse. There were loads of people and photographers milling around so no end of helpers to help me tack up , and to leg me up. Tex had only been clipped a couple of days before and I did a VERY dodgy job of it 🙂
Within a few minutes after mounting up, we were all lined up in front of Kiernan’s pub.
L-R: Jonnie Wragg (my idol!), Ciara Ryan (as I was then!), Kalindi Lawrence, Antoinette de la Boullerie (France), Jennifer Kennedy Bray, Jennifer Torrance, Rebecca Holland (U.K.), Susan Oakes, Elizabeth Oakes
My stirrup leather came away from the saddle as we were trotting up the road towards the first fields and a very kind man got down to retrieve it for me (something about side saddle makes them all very gentlemanly!)
This is the first field we went in to:
Hounds found almost immediately and the whole field took off after them. Tex jumped a tractor tyre rut and I honestly do not know how I didn’t fall off, my arms must have been at least 2 inches longer from trying to hold her all day. I had NO brakes whatsoever. There was only one fly fence which we jumped (not very stylishly), then we had a fast one hour run over very demanding country (banks and drains which I was well used to from my days hunting in Kilkenny!).
There was a very large field, which can be daunting some times, but all of the Meath members were fantastic and really made way for us side saddle riders!
It was an absolutely fantastic day’s hunting, huntsman Kenny Henry had 17 and a half couple of dog hounds out and they really hunted hard all day. Great sport!
I decided to head home afterwards instead of waiting for the hunt ball as I was absolutely wrecked. That day was really special, it got me back riding seriously and I’ll always be grateful to Susan for making it happen. When I got home I told daddy that Tex had been a handful to which he asked “oh would oats make her be a bit bold?” turns out he had been topping up her cool ‘n’ cooked feed with an extra scoop of oats morning and evening “to put more flesh on her!” It’s a wonder I wasn’t killed off her 😀