Thursday, October 10, 2019

Horsin' around and Bidding Adieu to Sweet Ireland

For our last full day in Ireland yesterday, we visited The Curragh and the Irish National Stud, both at Kildare, one of Ireland's oldest cities.

Kildare is about an hour south of Dublin.  We spent a little time in its downtown, mostly at the tourist center, where we learned about St. Brigid aka Brigit, who is said to have established a monastery in Kildare.

The nice lady at the tourist center told us that St. Brigid ranks right up there with St. Patrick.  She is the patron saint of many entities, including blacksmiths, babies, brewers, cattle and children born into abusive marriages, to name a few. 

We spent just a brief time at The Curragh, one of Ireland's premier race tracks (grass only) and found it interesting to learn that the facility has no stables.  Horses are stabled at training facilities rather than the track. 

Moving on to the Irish National Stud was inspiring and fun from beginning to end. I had visited the place with our daughter Annie on my first visit to Ireland in March of 2011.  

This time the trees were leafed out and starting to turn with fall colors and flowers were vibrant.  On that visit we saw paddocks with mares and foals.  In Thoroughbred circles, the closer to Jan.1 (not before) the better, since horses' ages are based on that date. 

This time, the mares and foals were not around, just stallions, retired geldings with impressive performance records AND a couple of foster horses.

Along with the horse operation, the grounds are home to one of the most notable Japanese gardens in all of Europe. 

To say that it's an exquisitely beautiful and artful place would be an understatement.  

Most aspects of the grounds are downright breath-taking, including the tree-lined walkway between the expansive paddocks. 

A trip to the National Stud takes one, especially a horse lover, on a journey of fantasizing----oh, if I could win the lottery!  Not too likely, but we can count on the fact that this beautiful place will always be around for the public to enjoy. 

It was a lovely experience and a fitting last day for going home to see my own horses, dogs and cats and still entertain the dream. 

Long day ahead.  The blog could be slimmed down a bit on Friday, but I'll try to drag myself out of bed in time to put something up.

Hope you've enjoyed this wonderful journey with us. 

Happy Thursday.   

My sister Barbara is quite pleased that her new baby horse is also known as Invincible aka Vinny, and his mom's name is Spirit.  Nice irony.

Barbara will have Ravenwood Invincible and Ravenwood Spirit (she'll be staying until Vinny is weaned) home in her barn tonight. 

This sculpture of a horse viewing the solar system was unveiled during Queen Elizabeth's visit. 

Don't know what the Queen ate when she visited the beautiful Irish National Stud facility, but the lemon squares and blackberry cheese cake were pretty tasty. 

Homes for the authentic and true "stable geniuses" at the Irish National Stud.

The stable cat leads a pretty good life. 

I'm guessing three-four bales of straw in each stall daily for the six stallions now standing at the Irish National Stud.

The stallions stay outside in their individual paddocks (probably 1-2 acres each) during the day.

When they've tramped down the grass, they move to a paddock on the other side of the walkway.

It's a cushy life for these guys who bring in a good portion of the money financing the facility through their stud fees, along with special sales of other stock.

Stud fees increase with the racing success of their offspring.  The more offspring doing well, the higher the fee.

Head gardener at the Irish National Stud

Patron saint of gardening

This nice and fun Aussie jockey brought his family to the Irish National Stud.  

Flags representing countries from which students travel to complete studies at the Irish National Stud. 

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