Ireland's strong association with "the horse" is nowhere more evident than in the East Galway hinterland and stretches all the way to the western seaboard. All year around there is a multiplicity of equine related events that are sure to catch the attention of everyone, whether a total enthusiast or an interested observer. There are horse fairs, horseracing meetings, hunting meets, a horse museum, hunting, pony-trekking, riding schools and stables.
The Ballinasloe Horse Fair, is one of the oldest in Europe and was commonly used by different countries to source horses for their armies, in the days when warfare was conducted on horseback. It takes place every October and witnesses literally thousands of transactions as horses are bought and sold on the fair green in the town centre, truly a sight to behold. Further west every August the Connemara pony show is an annual event taking place in Clifden, where there are hundreds of these unique animals on show and for sale. There is a worldwide market for these ponies originally bred in this area for their endurance and ability to deal with rugged terrain.
The world over, Galway Races are acclaimed as one of the great horse racing events on the annual calendar, the colour , the splendour, but most of all, the atmosphere combine to offer up an experience and a memory to treasure for ever. The principal meet takes place every year in late July and early August but there are equally attractive, and relaxing smaller meets that take place at other times of the year. Also nearby are the attractive courses at Roscommon and Ballinrobe, which attract an eclectic mix of locals and countrywide racing enthusiasts.
For those with only a passing interest in things equine there is a facility well worth a visit outside Loughrea called Dartfield Horse Museum and Park, which offers a range of engaging and passive activities guaranteed to fulfil a whole family's needs for an enjoyable day out. The purpose built facility is dedicated to telling and explaining the history of a 5000 year relationship between horses and mankind. Trekking by horse and pony is available from local providers as well as riding lessons and jump schooling.
Hanleys Equestrian Centre, Claremorris
Also Dartfield Horse Museum and Park