GRÁINNE FOY, owner of Bonagrew Stables in Brittas Bay, describes her day
I’M IN THE yard by 7.30am. We have 25 horses, and the first job of the day is to feed and water those that are stabled and go to check those that are out in the fields.
At weekends we tend to have loads of help with the mucking out, but on weekdays I do it myself. By that stage people will be arriving for the first lesson of the day, at 9.30am.
Because we are in Brittas Bay, a mile from the beach, our clientele changes dramatically in summer, with children holidaying in the mobile-home parks. To cater for them we run pony camps – day-long events where they ride, do pony games and learn about horse care and stable management. I cook a big barbecue lunch, and we have a quiz at the end. It’s always great fun, if exhausting.
We get a lot of foreign visitors, too, at this time of year, many of whom are staying in local hotels and come into the tourist office looking for a place to ride.
At the moment I’m running introductory afternoons for adults and children who want to get a greater feel for what’s involved in horse riding before starting. Horse riding isn’t like any other sport, as you have a second brain to deal with, and I think it’s that interaction with the horses that children, in particular, love.
What I love about the horses is their generosity. They are so much stronger than us, and yet do all these things for us, which is purely down to that generosity of spirit.
At lunch I’ll have a sandwich in the office. If I get a quiet moment I’ll use it to get some administrative work done or do a bit of marketing.
Today I’m planning a direct- mail campaign to promote our ladies’ fitness and fun rides. Horse riding is a great way to keep in shape, and these rides are always a great laugh.
After lunch it’s back out in the arena for more lessons. The yard is always buzzing in the summer, because some of the people coming to the holiday parks bring their horses to us. They get to ride them on the beach and the horse gets a holiday, too.
By about 5.30pm everybody is gone for the day, but the horses have to be fed and watered again and the yard cleaned up and made ready for the morning. It’s usually about 7pm by the time I finish up.
I’ve always worked with horses. I did try to give it all up once and work in an office. The financial security was great, but it wasn’t for me. This way I’m master of my own destiny, and, though it’s hard work, it’s a good life.
** Gráinne Foy owns Bonagrew Stables in Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow
** In conversation with Sandra O’Connell