Travel Articles

Mount Juliet Estate- Jumps and Gallops

by Darley Newman

As I galloped up through the lush, green fifty-acre field on Chad, a strong Irish Sport horse, I felt a little wild and completely free. Eleanor, our guide, had told me to let Chad go a bit, as he had the biggest stride of our horses and would like to be in front. He certainly ran fast! I do get to ride fast on a lot of different horses and each time is different and exciting, especially when I’m riding through a wide open dream space in Ireland! When you reach the top of the open field on Mount Juliet Estate, you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of the patchwork Irish Countryside. My heart was racing as Chad and I turned to take in the scenery and catch our breath. 

Mount Juliet is a beautiful old Irish estate, which I’ve now had the pleasure of visiting twice and thoroughly enjoyed. For almost two hundred years, Mount Juliet was home to The Earls of Carrick. The estate encompasses an interesting period in elite Irish history. Julie Snyder, Equitrekking Travel’s provider of travel services, has been riding with me on my Irish riding adventures. Julie rides and competes hunter jumper at home in Wisconsin and is having a ball everywhere we ride, but also being challenged in riding different horses in each location. Horses have different personalities and traits, which is part of the fun of traveling the world on horseback. The two of us are conquering the Emerald Isle on horseback to see old friends and discover new places to send travelers throughEquitrekking Travel, which features exceptional equestrian vacations.

Up until the 1980’s, not too long ago, Mount Juliet was a private residence, complete with a staff of around 100. The estate is well manicured, with a Jack Nicholas designed golf course, spa and training and riding facilities. Last time I rode here was when we filmed Equitrekking Irish Countryside, in Equitrekking’s second season. I rode a horse named Harold with trainer Elenaor Dwan, who I was happy to find was my guide once again.

Mount Juliet has two new outdoor rings for lessons and training. If you want to brush up on your jumping skills, it’s a good place to start. Julie and I warmed up to get used to our horses with some trotting and cantering at the equestrian center, so Eleanor could make sure that we were a good fit with our mounts. Next, we trotted off on the 16 miles of bridle paths that weave around the estate. Julie was able to ride Harold. Harold is as nice and quiet as I remember from filming with him, while Chad is a bit more forward going and excels at cross country and jumping. There’s really a horse for everyone.

Julie and I agree that we really like the horses raised in Ireland. They are very chilled out and used to a lot of different environments and situations, making them great on the trails. Of course, they have to be raised well to become that way. You see lots of horses in Ireland, happily grazing out on open fields. 

At Mount Juliet, Julie and I are both on Irish Sport horses, a mixture of the Irish Draught and the Thoroughbred. The Irish Draught is a pure bred breed in Ireland. Mixed with the Thoroughbred, you add in speed, making a good competition horse. The Irish Sport horses have a good temperament and nice strong bone. 

We trotted along on trails along the River Nore beside Ballylinch Stud Farm, a private breeding farm where horses have been bred since the early 1900’s. There were a good number of foals out with their moms. I am lucky because my room this time in the main house of Mount Juliet overlooks the river and stud farm. It’s a beautiful view and a nice place to relax after riding all day.

Julie and I had toured the whole property earlier in the day, seeing the spa, indoor pool and workout center, the Rose Garden cottages, where families may want to stay, club house and more. As a sporting estate, there are lots of activities. You can try archery, fishing for salmon, the popular mini golf course and just enjoy the peaceful beauty of the estate and imagine what life used to be like here.

Eleanor took us trotting and cantering through a series of wooded trails that led to the cross country course, where there are twenty-four jumps and a water complex. At Mount Juliet, you choose to docasual daily rides and lessons or focus on something specific. There's Confidence Building in Jumping and Cross Country Clinics, as well as special trips from October through February where you can ride in a traditional Irish Hunt. Julie and I had our horses step up on a higher jump for a photos and then leaned back with our feet in the stirrups as our horses hopped off. Just this act of stepping on and off one of the jumps helps the horses and us riders get more familiar with the course and really check out distances. It’s something Eleanor would do first when people access the course. We trotted through a water crossing and explored more of the jumps before heading up to the fifty acre field for our fast riding. I know the fifty acre field was my favorite part of the ride and think that Chad enjoyed it too! 

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