Friday, 8 March 2013

Ireland Study Tour [2013]

This is a bit of a late post seeing as we went 18th February - 22nd February, but better late than never, right?

We flew out Monday afternoon and stayed at The Gables Guest House, Newbridge. It's such a nice little guest house with a swimming pool, gym, jacuzzi, sauna, etc! 

One of their many arenas
Tuesday morning we went to Coilog Equestrian Centre. Coilog is a relatively large yard that caters just for competitions. It has 5 large outdoor arenas, a large grass field with the Derby style bank with various steep slopes and a large indoor as well as a nice canteen area and marque for further expansion for sitting and eating. All of the arenas are named after trees as the site used to be a tree nursery. They are further expanding their centre and hoping to make their already large indoor even larger! On Fridays they run an 'open schooling' day which means you can just turn up and use whichever/whatever arenas you want and then leave money in a box. They tend not to have people on the yard to collect the money so use a donations box which, surprisingly, they said works well and have only had two occasions in the past 4 years where people haven't paid which is pretty impressive! 

MRI Scanner
Tuesday afternoon we headed to Troytown vets which is one of the major vets over in Ireland. They have recently merged with another practise and although they now have 15 vets they reckon this still isn't enough! The vet that gave us a tour was so thorough and we got to see everything! The labs where they run blood analysis, foal intensive unit, intensive unit, the anaesthetic room where you could see a horse being operated on in the theatre through the windows in the doors which the horse is hoisted through from the anaesthetic room or back to the recovery room so that was interesting! We also got to see a little foal coming round in the recovery room after having being rushed in that morning for a ruptured bladder - he was such a sweetie and seeing him trying to walk to his mum in the stable with the vets support made us all melt! The vet also showed us all of the patients and explained what they were in for, how they go about their recovery, etc. They also have two horses out in a field which were donated to them to use for blood donations. We saw the MRI scanner, ultrasound, scintigraphy, x-ray, etc., and she showed us pictures for each to help us understand what they are used for and how they work, what they show, how useful they are, etc. This was one of my favourite visits as she went into so much detail and we really learnt a lot!

Wednesday morning we went to the Irish Centre where they carry out various things such a post mortems, biomechanics, microbiology, blood testing, etc. This trip was not as informative about what they did but more general chat about horse topics. 

Wednesday afternoon we went to Punchestown races where we had a tour before watching the races. Unfortunately, my betting skills are a bit rubbish and it's safe to say I most definitely did not win much money but it was a fun afternoon all the same! We even got to present prizes to Eddie Harty and Frank Berry for their horse 'Dressedtothenines' and the picture was posted on the racing post website :) 

Filly in the Whirlpool
Thursday morning was a very cold one as we went to Curragh gallops. I cannot believe how big the place was with different types of gallops everywhere! It was so nice seeing horses being galloped up and even saw one with an endoscope attached. We then spent some time at Tri Equestrian (a large tack shop) because no equine study tour is complete without a trip to a tack store! Our next stop was to go and see some horses swimming at Peter Kealtey Swimming Centre which was such a fascinating experience, seeing how the horses are walked round in the pool as well as in the whirlpool. 

The afternoon was spent touring round RACE (Racing academy and centre of education). At RACE they take on young people (about 16 to 18 year olds) to give them an education in racing and riding out so that they can go on to a career in racing. They ride out during the morning, then in the afternoon they have lessons with some being normal school lessons (ie maths, science) as well as business and communication as they interact with people who could be potential bosses or clients. They also have a gym and simulators and are taught the importance of correct fitness and diet. 

Friday brought the last day of our trip and the morning was spent touring the prestigious Kildangan Stud (Darley). Wow, was this place impressive! It is so big with acres upon acres of land. There are 20 yards/stable blocks set around the complex, a special foaling section which is monitored constantly. We saw a couple of foals with their dams and even one who had been born the previous night but unfortunately lost its mother due to a haemorrhage and so was currently getting used to its foster mare who was very protective. We saw their stallions and they pulled a few out for us which was so nice. My favourite was Iffraaj who got a bit excited at first as he thought there was a mare! We also saw Cape Cross, the stallion to Sea the Stars and Ouija Board. We also saw little Teaser Tom, a little grey pony used as a teaser for the mares. The stud is truly fantastic and so picturesque and impressive! We even got a little sneak preview at a recent development of theirs which is a room set out like a museum which is still undergoing development but looks set to be impressive! 

Overall, the week spent in Ireland was one of the best and so enjoyable and educational! I learnt so much from the trip which will be beneficial for my last year and a half left at uni (scary stuff!). I would definitely recommend anyone who has the chance to go on a study tour or visit these places in Ireland to go as it is well worth the money! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura x

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