• Catríona Bolger

    My name is Caitríona Bolger and I am currently working in Tattersalls Ireland as part of the I.T.B.A Next Generation Apprenticeship Scheme.

    From a young age I was interested in horses and as a child I hunted and show jumped. After my Junior Cert I joined Ger Lyons Racing for summer experience and stayed on part time at the weekends when I returned to school. Working in a professional racing yard opened my eyes to the world of racing which I fell in love with.

    After my Leaving Cert results came out I had to decide whether to follow my heart and give the equine industry a serious go or to go with my head and choose to do beauty therapy. I followed my heart and headed off to CAFRE, Enniskillen to complete a Foundation Degree in Equine Management. One of the main reasons I chose CAFRE was the practical element of the course. It is roughly 50/50 classroom versus practical work on the yard. This suited me as I’m dyslexic - I had found the school environment difficult being in a class room all of the time.

    CAFRE was great, we learned about many parts of the industry and studied modules including; Business Management, Breeding and Stud Practices, Biology, Equine Nutrition and Grassland Management. I also chose the course in CAFRE because as part of my second year I went on work placement for four months. I was very fortunate with my placement which was with the leading Irish National Hunt trainer Gordon Elliott. I was able to apply what I learned from college and put it to use within the yard. I loved working for Gordon and stayed on part time after I returned to college. When I completed my degree course I worked for him full time during the summer months. I love going racing and enjoy all that is involved in the race days. My goal is to become a head travelling girl. I have recently passed the test for my trailer licence. I am aiming to achieve my HGV licence next. This has all been possible thanks to the wonderful opportunity which CAFRE provided to me through my college course.

    CAFRE is great at giving the students insights and opportunities within the industry. This led to me applying for the I.T.B.A Next Generation Apprenticeship Scheme in the summer of 2016 after graduating from CAFRE. The scheme gives you the chance of an apprenticeship which runs for a year. It consists of three four month work placements over the course of a year. There are two rounds of interviews after which the I.T.B.A offers two successful candidates an apprenticeship. 

    I was fortunate to be selected and I began my first placement in Rathasker Stud in September 2016 doing yearling prep. For my second placement I went to Coolmore Stud where I was part of the Private Foaling Unit. I worked with many Group 1 winning mares or dams of Group 1 winning progeny. I got to foal some of the top mares for example Meow, the dam of Churchill. My last placement, which I am currently at, is in the Bloodstock Department in Tattersalls Ireland where I am working in the office for the upcoming sales.

    All of this has stemmed from CAFRE. I would highly recommend CAFRE to any person with a passion and will to succeed in the Equine industry. My experience on the I.T.B.A Next Generation Apprentice scheme has been invaluable.  I have had the opportunity to work with the top people within the industry and have gained experience and knowledge first-hand from them. This has been amazing. I would advise everyone who has a love for horses and a drive to succeed in the Equine industry to take full advantage and apply for the scheme. The opportunities provided through the I.T.B.A. scheme are second to none.

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