Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

Follow Where Dreams Lead

To really experience travel as the character in my dream novel does, we continued to travel without any plan, other than riding horses as often as we could. Funnily enough, I was never all that keen on travelling. I thought it was a huge waste of money. Sure, I’d done some travelling when delivering horses to new homes, but sprawled out on a beach to tan is not my idea of fun. I’d be bored in no time at all. Besides that, I’m not crazy about tourist traps. I like to explore and meander on my own schedule, which isn’t a schedule at all. It was only the dream that took me across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland, nothing else. We had a very tight budget, and we were going to be away from home for just over three weeks. In those three weeks, I assumed most incorrectly that I would have plenty of time to get a feel for the places in the book. Never mind get a feel for them, I thought I’d actually learn everything I needed to know. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Three weeks, is definitely not enough to get to know anything, certainly not a country, and in this case, we were taking in two. Most of our time would be in Ireland then, we finished the trip in Scotland. Ireland figured quite highly in the dream I’d written down, and Scotland was very important as well. I simply had to find out, if the dream had anything real about it, anything at all.
The first day and night in Ireland, were simply amazing. From the bus stop in Dublin, where the female, disembodied voice over the intercom continuously warning of pickpockets, to Blarney Castle then the lovely, old monastery bed and breakfast. It couldn’t have begun any better than it was, and we had weeks ahead of us. Standing in the bus station reading the possibilities for our next destination, we surveyed the board and made our decision based on price. We’d come to Cork, because it was a deal. What better way can you choose than by price, especially if you’re a bit of a bargain hunter in the first place. What am I saying? It’s all about the bargain. If I can’t get something on sale, or at least at a better than usual bargain, like two for one, or a percentage off, what’s the point? All I’d be doing is thinking about, how much something cost, and I don’t like to do that. I come from Manitoba, the ‘must have a deal’ capital of the world. At least, if it isn’t, it should be. We had a limited amount of time. We had to see as much of Ireland, as we possibly could. I had to see if the dream and story could be at all real.
I had the perfect partner for this new adventure. The girlchild was born fiercely bold and an explorer, neither a sissy nor wimp, she wouldn’t cry if things didn’t work out. She was up for whatever came our way, which was a good thing when there’s no set goal in mind, and no reservations made … not for anywhere or anything. We didn’t even worry about anywhere to lay our heads for the night, until the day wore on and it was a must have. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We were still on our second day, headed to who knows where. The price of the bus ticket was making our decisions for us. We were going towards an experience, an experience that would hopefully help with the story I’d written from a long-running dream. I was exploring with my daughter, in an unfamiliar country full of mystery and legends, and that’s all that counted. If we encountered leprechauns and faeries, we were going to do so together. If we found a pot of gold in our travels, we would spend it together. If the first day was any indication of what was to come, it was going to be glorious fun.
We headed to Kilkenny, where we took in our first ride. Most fittingly, my horse was named Lancelot. Seriously, what better name could possibly be chosen, for a giant of a horse in the United Kingdom, than that? He wasn’t my usual type of mount. Most assuredly part Draught, he was likely part Clydesdale, possibly Shire, complete with feathers, a gentle spirit and plodding gait. He was no speed demon that was for sure. Before riding, we were required to write down our level of experience. I suppose, I could’ve written darn near everything, as that’s what it looked like, after writing everything down. There was training, from starting new horses to retraining soured ones to ride, and some to ride and drive, all sorts of gymkhana events like barrel racing, pole bending and more, as well as jumping, competitive trail, endurance racing and driving. Heck, I’d even done a little reining, just for good measure. I was eager to ride, just give me a horse. By that time, Sweetpea had been my horse-helper for years. She’d been training with me for years, and wasn’t afraid of any horse. Her talents included many vaulting moves she’d learned from Pony Club, and being a part of Prince Phillip Games. If vaulting off a galloping horse, running beside it a few strides before leaping back on was required, she was the girl for the job. I have to admit, watching her pick a tennis ball from atop a traffic cone, as she hung off the side of a horse and cantered by, was one of my favourites to watch. Her horse was the opposite of mine, he was a little, perky crackerjack. I don’t know why they gave me the world’s slowest, most laidback horse, and she was mounted on a rather green, naughty but fun horse, but that’s what happened. She was given a riding crop and it was strongly suggested that she use it, if needed, just in case her mount decided to kick up his heels a little. Little did they know, sweetpea doesn’t use whips, not of any kind, nor does she use spurs of any kind. She couldn’t hit or hurt a horse, if her life depended on it. The crop was a requirement though, so she obligingly held it in her hand, just in case the gelding needed a little tap of encouragement.
One of the most memorable things about that ride was when, we first settled onto our mounts. The second we sat on those saddles, or rather, I should say ‘in’ those saddles, we shared a look of complete wonder. It was like settling into a wonderful, soft, easy chair.
“Are you feeling this?” I asked with a sense of awe, though it wasn’t necessary. I could tell by the expression on her face that mirrored mine. Never before, had either of us ever ridden with such a soft, comfortable saddle. Of course, we almost always rode bareback back home, but any saddle we’d ever used, didn’t hold a candle to these in comparison. We had to know what they were, and made sure to ask after the ride, but back to the ride.
The ride took us into a lovely park. A park that was most horse friendly, and from what we could see, very popular with all sorts of people. There were people out walking, a horse and carriage trotting along the paved road, and of course, there were people enjoying the grass and lazing about. Unlike back home, the horses were required to stick to a specific trail or path. No deviations allowed. I know this from firsthand experience. When we crossed a little stream and rocky patch, I moved my horse just a titch to the right, to what appeared to be a trail where there were far fewer rocks. There were hoof prints and everything … honestly. Surely, this made more sense than asking a hoofed animal, to pick its way over hard, round objects? I was immediately asked, to bring my horse back to the path. Though my route was a deviation of maybe a couple of feet, it was a really big deal. My shock must’ve shown on my face, as the guide swiftly explained that they had special permission to ride in the park, but they had to stick to designated trails. Apparently that was taken extremely seriously. It was a slow ride, an amble more than anything. The only one who had any excitement at all was my girlchild on her green mount. Tagging along at the back of the line, she and her mount were enjoying a more exciting ride than the rest of us. He did indeed, kick up his heels now and again. Sweetpea’s response was to collect him up and giggle. She always giggled when horses bucked, and this one wasn’t that serious about it anyway.
In the middle of a small lake, or possibly it was a river, there was an island with a castle ruin that got my imagination going. To our left and right, random showers came down in waves that swept across the terrain like curtains, yet somehow, completely missed us. We learned that this was an Irish thing. It could randomly rain at any time. A person might get soaked, or luck out and be completely missed. It’s a strange, yet amusing thing at the same time. All in all, it was a passive ride, and perfectly pleasant. A most acceptable first ride of what would surely be many. Of course, we asked about the saddles. They were trekking saddles made in Austria. Someday, we’ll have saddles like those. They were so comfortable, so wonderful and easy to ride in. I suppose owning one, getting to ride the trails in one someday, is a different sort of dream.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB