When a coworker told me that I could rent a Gypsy caravan, complete with horse and use it to explore the Irish countryside I really thought that she was joking at first. After a Google search, I saw that she was telling me the honest to gosh truth, and the idea fascinated me.
I love horses. All girls love horses when they are little, but somehow, I never grew out of it. I have also always been kind of an old fashioned girl at heart, and the idea of hitching up a horse to explore the world really excites my inner child.
The caravan provides sleeping space for 4 people as well as cooking and washing areas (a huge plus, as I love being able to cook some of our own meals while traveling.) The idea is to travel a total of about 2-5 hours a day, leaving time for sightseeing and hanging out in the local pub in the evenings. According to the Irish Horse Drawn Caravans website, this equates to 7-20 km depending on how fast your horse walks.
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The caravan must be parked off of the road at night, so many local farmers, pubs, guesthouses and hotels make space available for a fee for you park your horse and your temporary rolling home. They provide grass for your horse, as well as trash and bathroom facilities. Many of these places offer further amenities in the form of fresh, local produce, packed lunches, meals and hot showers. They can also give you the inside scoop about where the best music and entertainment is to be had in the city that you are in.
I am very comfortable around horses, and have some experience in handling them, but that is not at all necessary for you to have a holiday in Gypsy Caravan. The breed of horses that are used for this type of work is primarily an Irish Draught Horse. Draft horses in general have an easy, calm temperament and they are bred to be slow and steady. They were originally bred for working on a farm, where a hot tempered horse would just be a liability. The caravan provider gives you guidance and instruction about how to care the horse and how to hitch it up to the caravan. You are specifically instructed about checking for rub marks on the skin and checking the horses feet and shoes to make sure that they are in good condition. This is the horse’s job, and he knows how to do it very well. All you need to do is care for him and trust him to do what he has been extensively trained to do.
I am a very type “A” traveler. I like to be constantly on the go, seeing as much as is humanly possible, often at the expense of my health or my travel companion’s sanity. I have been working very hard at slowing down and learning to be ok just taking it slow and relaxing. The very nature of this type of trip would MAKE me slow down (7-20 kilometers a day isn’t very far) and enjoy the beautiful countryside and the quaint little villages that we pass through, as well as allowing time to make real connections with the people that we meet along the way.
Does this sound super cool to anyone else? Anybody reading ever done a Gypsy Caravan Holiday before?