by Jenny Ricahrdson, BHSAI

English magazine Absolute Horse recently ran a lovely feature in their January issue about staying at Castle Leslie Estate in winter, and we thought we’d share it with you! It was written by our business manager, Jenny Richardson.

If you are planning a visit to Castle Leslie Estate over the winter months for a riding trip, you can be sure of a lovely treat. Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, the venue is dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes. You will ride through rich, eye-popping colours, beautifully-lit panoramas and a multitude of wildlife activity.

There are crunchy leaves underfoot, begging to be trotted and cantered through; and of course, plenty of warm, country fires in either your Lodge, Castle or self-catering accommodation! The winter light is beautiful on the Estate, because the elevation of the sun above the horizon is relatively lower – if you can venture up and out of bed at sunrise for a pre-riding walk, you will be rewarded with a magical illumination through the woodlands and across the famous lake.

On your visit you may still catch the welcome return of our favourite winter bird, the robin, and the striking murmurations of starlings, which weave in the sky in great numbers. In winter as you’re hacking through the woodland, the wetter ground means that the footprints of deer, fox, badger and otter are easier to spot on your horsey adventure. February sees snowdrops peeping through, and hedge plants such as hawthorn, rowan and holly bursting with the hopes of spring.

If you’re more intent on riding in the cosy indoor arena, you will be able to take advantage of the advanced arena-surface that allows year-round riding and training – maybe you will try some indoor eventing over our moveable jumps? Winter time may seem like a time to ride less because it is colder, however once you warm up, there’s much to be achieved in terms of keeping the basic skills going, such as equine (and human) mobility, straightness and suppleness. If you compete and have a break over the winter months, this is also the ideal time to put in the practice for 2017, and work out your goals and plans.

If you’re planning to visit Castle Leslie Estate in spring, you will be greeted with vibrant yellows, blue hues and pastel flower shades that fill the grounds with hopes of warmer weather – the beautiful bluebells, tulips and bright daffodils will surely be welcoming you to the Estate and filling you with inspiration! This is the perfect time to focus on your cross country skills, as the expansive XC course at the venue will be offering perfect ground and grass cover, and will have been prepared and tidied by our staff ready for the season ahead.

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Check out Absolute Horse magazine at www.absolutehorsemagazine.com