In this section participants share their personal experiences of the programme and their own interests in breeding.
Vera O’Callaghan grew up near Macroom in Co. Cork and has been interested in ponies and horses since a very young age. From as early as five years old she participated in events, starting out at the local agricultural show in lead rein classes and from there progressed on to pony club where she competed in various disciplines into her teenage years. Vera completed a BSc (Honours) Degree in Equine Management at the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Enniskillen. Read more ...
Conor Wixted grew up near Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare with a deep-rooted love for horses. As children both Conor & his sister Aisling, were lucky to have some really good ponies such as 12hh hunter pony “Paulank Windstorm” who won many classes, championships & supreme titles including Irish Pony Society ‘Pony of the Year’, “a pony of a lifetime who sparked in me a passion for showing.” Conor recently joined the Bloodstock Department at Goffs, Co. Kildare. His role predominantly involves processing entries and nominations, but also assisting vendors & clients and liaising with the inspection team
Nicole Groyer from Naul, North Co. Dublin grew up surrounded by animals and horses on her grandfather's farm. Her interest in horses began from an early age when her mother took Nicole to local agricultural shows, hunts and annually visited the RDS Dublin Horse Show. Nicole was lucky enough to have her own Shetland pony from three years of age but the strong interest developed during secondary school years when most weekends and summers were spent competing in eventing, dressage and schooling young horses.
David is 31 years old and is based in Enniskerry in Co. Wicklow where he grew up with a love for ponies, while learning and progressing through the Bray Pony Club. For David horses are his hobby, but also a very important aspect of his livelihood. He runs ‘Enniskerry Horse Farm’ a livery yard with 22 clients and a complimentary sheep farm (150 breeding ewes). David, always with his mind on the future, erected a 50x80m indoor arena earlier this year to compliment the two existing outdoor arenas.
Melissa Glynn is from Crannaghmore in Co. Roscommon. Born and raised in a farming family, her interest in agriculture started very early. Showing at the agricultural shows, selling at auctions and from the farm gate were part of her early education which included riding and pony camps. Melissa, a teacher at a primary school in Athlone, is passionate about agriculture, and is “happiest working with animals on the farm” alongside her family. Crannaghmore Stables is home to 10 broodmares, breeding to compete in the show ring and to produce future eventers.
David Browne grew up in Castledermot, Co Kildare, where he starting riding at the local riding school at eight years of age. Despite not coming from a horsey background his parents have supported him 100% in what has become a family interest. David is in his third year studying veterinary medicine at UCD. David has two broodmares, with the objective to breed 1.40m and upward showjumpers that “are ridable, athletic and will have long, successful sport careers”.
Sharon is based at Windgap Stud, Doon, Co. Offaly having grown up in a family of eight. When growing up there were always Irish Draught (ID) horses present on the then mainly dairy and sheep farm. Equine is now the main farm enterprise five ID stallions and a further twenty resident broodmares. Sharon works part time off farm while also playing a significant role in the management of the equine enterprise on the farm. All major decisions are made around the kitchen table as a family. Sharon and her siblings were each allocated a mare to show by their parents when starting out in the show ring.
Dan and his whole family from Castleisland, Co. Kerry are immersed in horses. The interest began with his grandfather, Donal Geaney, who most notably bred two time Olympic Eventer and Olympic team gold winner in 2008, Mr Medicott, also 2012 USEA Horse of the Year topping the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses eventing rankings. Dan’s parents run their family business Crag Cave which is located on their 30 acre farm in Castleisland. With 12 stables in the yard and a loose housing shed for young stock Dan, and his siblings, have always had the benefit of ponies and horses at home.
Living near Newtownards in Co. Down Sarah’s introduction to ponies began at two years of age when sat on a pony whilst holidaying with her family. Not coming from an agricultural or horsey background Sarah persistently requested riding lessons for her fourth birthday, launching her mum into the world of equestrianism. She has a yard of ten competition equines ranging from performance and show Connemara Ponies to show horses and cobs, young event horses and breeding stock. She has won the 4&5 year old Connemara class and reserve champion at Royal Balmoral Show on a mare she broke and produced.
Michelle hails from Sandyford in Dublin. Michelle spent much of her childhood in the countryside in Glencullen while attending crèche at Carrickmines Equestrian Centre. From the time she was a baby the environment to which she was exposed must have instilled a love of all things equestrian as in her own words she was “reared at the riding stables”. She is completing a BSC (Honours) in Equine Management at the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Enniskillen.
Amy is from Kiltegan in Co. Wicklow where she grew up with a keen interest in ponies and horses from an early age, owning her first pony ‘Buttercup’ at the age of four and hasn’t looked back since. She was a member of the Carlow Hunt pony club and also show jumped from the age of ten. Amy’s lifelong goal was to become a vet. Following her studies in Warsaw Poland she is a first opinion ambulatory vet in Berkshire UK with a keen interest in lameness and poor performance issues.