Ask me your
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
When I was 16 I took my transition year out from school to get some practical experience with horses and to attempt the BHS (British Horse Society) instructors exams. During this year I took and passed BHS stage one and two exams and gained great practical experience both riding competition horses and with handling and training young horses from the ground up.
It was during this year I came to the conclusion that I wanted to have a career with horses. When I returned to school the following September I realised six weeks into the term that there was nothing more for me there and that I didn't want to sit my Leaving Cert exam.
Although my parents and family were not delighted, after much discussion they agreed on the one condition that I would enroll in Kildalton College the following academic year, which I did. And this basically was where my career with horses began.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Far too many people to mention individually - my parents and family were extremely supportive and helped me in any way they could (even when they didn't necessarily agree with my choices) and I think that was a major factor in my choices being successful.
Also the many people who taught and trained me in my career so far, many of which I came to be in contact with either in or through Kildalton College. ....... thank you to you all....!!!
How did you go about getting your current job?
Describe a typical day?
An average day begins around 8.30am, I feed the horses first thing and then muck out and aim to be riding by ten (although on show days I would start earlier and in the summer when I am eventing I could be on the road with the horses in the early hours of the morning as early as 3 or 4 am).
I aim to be finished riding around 4pm (although this rarely happens) which would give enough time to finish the yards and feed the horses to be finished by 5.30 or 6pm.
I would also usually teach one or two evening's in the week which would mean I would work till 9 or 10pm on those evenings. Monday is usually my day off although this has to be flexible.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
Training and riding horses is extremely time consuming and it is the clock that I guess I feel the most pressure from. Particularly in the winter when the weather and the dark evenings make the days very short. Horses don't wear watches and there is no substitute for time and patience when training them. Trying to allocate time equally to all the horses I have to ride can be difficult.
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Obviously my riding skills are the most important for me and although I guess natural ability in that area is important, I think it is equally important to be hard working, dedicated and to push yourself and never be happy with nearly enough!.
A lot of people when riding and training horses put far too much focus on the horse and what it does right and wrong - I try, when I'm riding, to remember to put as much focus on me and what I'm doing right and wrong.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
As I mentioned earlier I didn't sit my Leaving Cert exams but instead went to Kildalton College and did the Sport Horse Production course. I also did the BHS (British Horse Society) AI exams and some of the EFI coaching courses both of which are relevant to teaching and coaching.
There is no real qualification for what I do and I would get most of my business through word of mouth, or from people that see me competing and decide to send me a horse.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Working with horses involves long tiring hours of very hard work especially during the busy competition season. This, in my opinion is a non-negotiable part of the hands-on side of an equestrian career and people should bear this in mind.
In my situation I take advantage of our crap Irish winter and try to make up some time for myself when the weather is bad and the days are dark either by getting down time at home or by getting away in the winter when things are quiet.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I try to get training as much as possible - ideally weekly, but at the very least once a month. I also hope in the near future to work towards taking the next level of the BHS teaching qualification, the BHS II.
Education and Training?
Advice for Others?