Ronja’s time at an Irish horse ranch

Ronja took part in our horse programme in Ireland in autumn 2021. For 3 months, she lived and worked at a stud farm in County Cork, Ireland. Her hosts run a very successful boarding yard as well as an equine hospital and train top quality competition horses.

Read here about Ronja’s experience in Ireland.

My journey began on 20 September 2021. I flew alone for the first time and even had to change planes in Amsterdam. That all turned out well and at Amsterdam airport I immediately met a girl who had also planned a ranch stay. When I arrived in Dublin, I took the bus that World Unite! had suggested prior my arrival. The journey to Cork, the second largest city in Ireland, took several hours – but I was able to observe the fascinating green landscapes and the left-hand traffic.

In Cork, I had to wait an hour for my host mother, Corinne, to pick me up at the bus stop. The Irish are not as punctual as the Germans, which I learned over the next three months. When she finally arrived, she was not alone. A red-haired girl with a dog on her lap greeted me and I was relieved to have a girl my age to ease my arrival. World Unite! had also reassured me of this beforehand, as they knew of another German participant would be there before me.

Then we went shopping right away and the girl told me everything about life and work at the ranch. We usually went grocery shopping with our host mother once a week. She often took us out for dinner or to the pub when the work on the farm was done.

The first days or weeks were very hard for me and I had to get used to the new living conditions. My room only consisted of a bed and a cupboard. But I used the room only for sleeping anyway – the other girls and I were usually busy from 8 am to 5 or 6 pm.

Our daily tasks were:

  • Feeding hay and concentrate (in the morning and in the evening)
  • Mucking out and sweeping about 10 stalls
  • Cleaning bridles and saddles
  • Riding
  • Washing, grooming etc.
  • Taking horses to the paddock and to the horse walker
  • Since I was there in autumn, there was a lot of leaves to sweep every day

Most of the horses on our farm were sport horses. That’s how we got in touch with the owners as well. Once a week a very nice trainer came and gave us a riding lesson. A training lesson in Ireland is different from the ones I was used to in Germany – our trainer always asked us what we wanted to train (jumping or dressage). He let us ride freely and improved during the lesson. We didn’t ride out, as there were only roads around. It seems, the Irish prefer to go on hunts.

We were also allowed to ride Corinne’s horses during our lunch breaks. As the work was very strenuous, especially in the beginning, I often preferred to take a nap instead.

Once a week, each participant received a phone call from the partners of World Unite! who are the direct contact on site. They always inquired about our well-being and had an open ear for our problems or worries. If you have problems with your host family, they also make it possible for you to change your host. Once, someone even came unannounced to check in with the yard owners and myself.

The girl who arrived before me left after one month and a new World Unite! participant arrived. This time I was the one with the dog on my lap to greet the new girl and to explain everything. The new girl owned two horses in Germany and came with more riding experience than me. Therefore, she was able to ride different horses a day from the start, went to shows and even gave the children riding lessons.

Each girl had her favourite horse on the farm. People took great care in finding out which horse suits you best to ride. My favourite horse was a chestnut called Zeus.

Then came a French girl who planned her whole trip by herself. I also travelled with her at the end. The other German participant had left after a stay of four weeks. We also had two days off per week, which we used for travelling. We visited Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher and the Christmas market in Galway.

On 20 December, I started my journey home. I almost missed my connecting flight in Amsterdam, but everything went well and I was so happy to embrace my parents after three long months.

Overall, it was a very nice but exhausting time that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss!

Thank you for your support, World Unite!

Do you love horses more than anything else? In Ireland, we can help you land jobs on horse ranches, stud farms and riding stables, offering you free accommodation and meals in exchange for work! You will not spend the whole day doing what you love most, but you will also learn how to get more independent and maybe launch your equine-related career!

Find out more and sign up here!


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