Horses are a fundamental part of Ireland and Irishness. We stand tall on the world stage when it comes to horse-breeding, horse-racing, show-jumping and so many great names and places comes to mind when horses are mentioned in the Irish context. How about Arkle, Redrum, Dawn Run, Moscow Flyer, Nijinsky, Shergar, Australia, Vincent O’ Brien, Tom Dreaper, Aidan O’ Brien, Jim Bolger, Capt. Michael Tubridy, Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh, Coolmore Stud, The Curragh, Punchestown, Fairyhouse, Pat Taaffe, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, The Royal Dublin Horse Show, Laytown Races … just for starters?
Horses have always been part of my landscape. I loved hearing my father telling me about his younger brother, Michael, who was a world class show jumper and nothing soothed me more at bedtime than Mother telling me about her happy childhood days on a farm with her beloved pony, Jock. I must have read every single book that was ever written about young girls and their ponies and was fortunate to be brought to places like the Dublin Horse Show and race meetings all round the country.
I have what I consider to be my very own ‘horse show’ here in Tramore every day when I bring the dogs out along Cliff Road to Newtown Wood. There is a field, with a spectacular view of Tramore Bay, which is the grazing place of the friendliest horses I know. These are horses that trot gently over to the gate to be patted. I could spend hours there running my fingers through their manes and gazing into their big brown eyes.
I guess most Irish people have a special field such as this in which noble, nuzzling friends reside and ones that evoke thoughts of echoing hooves and contented whinnying.