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A Day in the Life of a Kildalton Equine Student during Covid

Gwen Browne is a 20 year old Stud Management Student from Co. Carlow

Like everyone this year, life had become a bit of a mess due to the pandemic. I  had plans early on in the year to travel and work abroad but Covid quickly put an end to those ideas. I decided it would be best to try and get an education and horses being my work and passion, Kildalton seemed the most obvious choice.

Due to the current circumstances first years now take two weeks of online classes at home and one week of practicals in Kildalton to ensure social distancing and all the rest.

A typical Thursday of online classes and work,

I wake at 7:15am and get ready for work- I’m very lucky as there’s a point to point yard five minutes from my house and I’ve been riding out there for quite a while. I arrive in at 7:50 and depending on what’s done- feed one of the small barns. When everything is fed we start riding out -this is usually around 8am. By this time the first lot has already been on the walker so we tack them up and head up to the gallops. If we are quick I usually get 2 lots in before heading back home to get settled in for a morning of online classes. 

Our first class of the day is Stable and Yard Routine , at the moment we are going through feeding. I love this and I personally think its one of the most important areas to understand when training an elite horse. The last few classes have been going through different ways of working out how much feed a horse should get due to factors like work and temperament. This week we were put into groups to work out the correct feed for a horse of a particular weight, height, in a set amount of work. Finally something that we can use our maths from school for! 

Then a quick break where I grabbed something to eat and back to our second and final class of the day, Anatomy and Physiology. Thursdays are probably my favourite classes I find them the most interesting, useful and relevant to real life. In A and P we started on muscles, the types and how they work. Our lecturers, like us are only getting used to all this online stuff as well and do a good job keeping us focused and using different ways to replicate being in a classroom, such as doing break out rooms, groupwork etc..When we were learning about the skeleton we painted some of the bones onto the horses and also did a mural on the stable walls to make it easier to remember! 

When online classes are finished I get ready to go again, I’m very lucky there is a good few local yards around me that I go to during the week and work around my online classes and then at the weekend I ride out in Jessica Harrington’s. The second yard of the day is a dual-purpose one about 15 minutes from home, I arrive just after 1 and we get started straight away. I’d usually ride out 3 or 4 lots here – the amount we do depends on the horse and their fitness. When we’re finished riding out I help out doing odd jobs and bringing horses in from the field getting them ready for the night.

On my way home I pop into my own horse who’s a retired pointer enjoying an easy life, some days I bring him for a hack but the weather wasn’t great so I said I’d leave him with a few carrots instead! I get home around 6 most evenings usually after riding out 5 or 6 horses on a quiet day. 

The hardest thing about lockdown life is not being able to go out and socialise so I’m so grateful for my work as I’m doing what I love and getting to go out and meet people. I’d chill out for a bit when I get home and depending on assignments and classwork I’ll go do a bit of college work. Gwen is pictured here leading up Jungle Junction at Leopardstown