A day in the life of an Equine Student at CAFRE

Date published: 21 September 2020

My name is Anna McGuinness and I am from Brackaville, Co Tyrone. I have a real passion for horses and an interest in National Hunt racing. I have just completed my first year on the Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Equine Management at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) Enniskillen Campus.

I have been riding from a young age and I have a real interest in race horses and racing. While I was in secondary school, I attended an open day at CAFRE and I knew that this was where I wanted to study. The open day allowed me to see the vast range of education and employment opportunities in the equine industry. I loved the idea that I could work with horses every day and still continue to develop my education.

A typical day for me at college begins on the racing yard at 7.30am. Students at Enniskillen have the opportunity to ride out the racehorses on the gallops before class. This is done on a voluntary basis so it is a big commitment, but for me this is the best part of the day. There is nothing quite like the feeling of a frosty morning on the gallops when the rest of the campus is quiet.

Each semester we also have a number of weeks when we are allocated morning yard duties to complete. This helps us develop the skills necessary to care for horses in the yard environment. Along with our yard supervisor we are responsible for mucking out, checking health and feeding the horses on campus. Depending on the yard, we may also have other duties to perform such as putting horses on the walker for exercise or turning them out.

It is then time for breakfast and by the time lectures start at 9.30am, I am wide awake and ready for the day ahead. I have a busy timetable which involves a mixture of practical and theory classes. Topics like Nutrition, Equine Health and Behaviour are covered in depth in the classroom with the more practical classes such as Tack and Equipment taking place on either the equitation or racing yard. We also learn practical horse management skills such as health checks and how to maintain a yard to a high standard. As part of our riding module we ride twice a week with a mixture of flat and jumping lessons to help us improve our skills.

Classes end at 4.45pm and we have the evenings to ourselves to relax. Sometimes we have study in the evenings especially around exam time but that is unavoidable! I often use the racing simulators in the evenings to help improve my fitness or join the weekly circuit training classes. Some evenings we have movie nights and order in pizzas, where we all get together for some fun.

Every day is busy, but there are lots of opportunities to work with horses which I love.

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