MOUNT Errigal, in the north west of Co. Donegal, provides the imposing but beautiful backdrop for Errigal Equestrian Centre. This riding school and trekking centre is at the heart of a district that in normal circumstances plays host to many thousands of tourists each year.
The business was founded by Amy McGarvey, a graduate of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), who graduated in 2016 with a BSc (Hons) in Equine Management before going on to complete an internship with Horse Sport Ireland.
Arlene Doris, an Equine lecturer at CAFRE said: “This type of opportunity is part of CAFRE’s ongoing internship programme, where a number of internships are available to CAFRE graduates in businesses or organisations in the equine industry. The placements vary each year, but the opportunity remains the same; a chance to get a foot on the career ladder and make contacts in the equine sector.
“While completing her internship, Amy gained her HSI Coaching qualifications. And, when her internship was complete, she took a head girl position in a Grand Prix dressage yard in Scotland. During that time, she also completed her British Horse Society exams, with the view to becoming a professional coach.
“Upon returning home, Amy saw an opportunity to develop her own business and so Errigal Equestrian was born. Using the skills she had gained through her degree, Amy analysed the market and set about creating a business plan.”
Amy McGarvey said: “As part of our business module, we had to create a business plan and projected financial statements. This gave me confidence when it came to carrying out this part, as I knew I had the tools to complete it.”
Like many equine business owners, Amy has been affected by measures introduced to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Amy added: “Errigal Equestrian Centre opened in 2019 and we enjoyed a fantastic first season, open from April to November before closing for the winter season. We were due to open again in April of 2020, but due to the impact of Covid-19 we have had to postpone this.
“It is difficult to make any decisions as of yet in regards to the centre. If the restrictions ease in the coming weeks, we have risk assessed every area of the business and the health and safety of our staff and our customers has and will always be at the forefront of our policies. It’s a matter of reviewing the situation as every new piece of information comes out and continually assessing the circumstances.”
Arlene Doris continued: “Managing a yard is something that was also familiar to Amy. Students on our BSc (Hons) in Equine Management course play a predominant role in the management of the breeding unit at Enniskillen Campus.
“This allows students to gain a valuable insight into the working practices of a yard. They gain valuable knowledge of record keeping, stock management and develop an understanding of the financial aspect of running an equine enterprise.
“As well as running a riding school, Amy also coaches clients privately – although this too has been difficult during this time. She has been getting to grips with technology and using it to keep in touch with her clients. She is encouraging her clients to use exercise to improve their core fitness, so they will be in shape when they return to the saddle.”
“We wish Amy every success with her new business and we know that she is ready to welcome you to Errigal Equestrian when it is safe to do so.”
If you would like to find out more about the courses available at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus, check out their website: www.cafre.ac.uk.
You can apply for CAFRE’s Higher Education courses through UCAS. Applications for Further Education courses are taken directly through the website. You can also keep up to date with everything that is happening at Enniskillen Campus by following them on Instagram @discovercafreequine or Discover CAFRE on Facebook.