HELLO, my name is Ashley Kelly from Ballymena. I have recently enrolled on the Level Two Apprenticeship in Equine and I am employed at Mount Davy Stables in Cullybackey by Ian Ferguson.
I have developed a keen interest in horses since 2013. My main area of interest would be show jumping however through my employment I have developed a keen interest in the racing industry.
I have had to adapt my riding completely. I found it really hard to begin with but my employer has been very supportive and even arranged for me to do some training at the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) at the Curragh. This was a real eye-opener and made me realise how much I needed to increase my fitness and strength. I am very grateful for these opportunities as I can now ride a better range of horses and have been able to take more responsibility around the yard as my experience increases.
I heard about CAFRE at a careers event and I was sure I would like to study there. There was one problem! It was quite a distance from home and I didn’t want to be away from my horse during the week.
I did consider bringing my horse on livery but I wanted to compete at weekends so this wasn’t feasible either.
When I heard about the Apprenticeship option I knew it was the right choice as I could get an equine qualification whilst working and gaining new experiences. I was delighted when I got my trial at Ferguson’s and I am very thankful that they agreed to work alongside CAFRE and employ me during my apprenticeship.
I have been to two training blocks at Enniskillen. I am looking forward to riding at CAFRE and increasing my equitation skills.
I settled in really well during training blocks and made friends easily. I was surprised at how much I have enjoyed the residential element of the training blocks. There is a good balance of timetabled classes, practical skills and social activities. Staying away from home has been a good experience and allowed me to look for opportunities further afield when necessary.
I have been working closely with my tutor to make targets and plan my training. I have enjoyed the training from a wide variety of staff members. We have been learning about a range of topics and I have been able to use some of the nutrition information for my own horse and the horses I work with.
I have gained a lot of knowledge which has given me a deeper understanding of horses. I am hoping I can ride out the race horses at CAFRE during some of my training blocks.
I have enjoyed integrating with students from other full-time courses. Full-time students were very helpful when I first arrived and even invited me for tea on the first day I arrived.
There was always someone on hand to show me around and share their knowledge of the campus yards and CAFRE horses. This meant I was able to become familiar with their individual personalities or needs and has allowed me to grow in confidence whilst working at CAFRE.