Jockey Johnny Murtagh will be among the guests when Clondalkin Equine Club hosts its Open Day at the Ballyowen Equine Centre on Saturday as part of Horse Aware Week.

The Equine Club opened the centre last year and it has proved to be a real success story for the area, helping to educate young people about responsible horse ownership.

Roisin Kearney of Clondalkin Equine Club told Dublin Gazette that the ethos of the club is about “planting the seeds constantly about equine welfare and animal welfare all together”.

Horse Aware Week is a joint initiative between Clondalkin Equine Club, DSPCA, the Irish Horse Welfare Trust, Fettercairn Youth Horse Project & UCD Veterinary Staff.

It is part of a concerted effort to increase awareness about responsible horse ownership in the Dublin area spearheaded by the Dublin Region Horse Welfare Working Group (DRHWWG).

Representatives from various animal and equine welfare organisations including DSPCA, the Irish Horse Welfare Trust, My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR), Donkey Sanctuary, Clondalkin Equine Club, Fettercairn Youth Horse Project, Cherry Orchard Equine Centre and representatives from Dublin traveller community groups have all signed up to DRHWWG.

The focus is on animal welfare and equine legislation, indiscriminate breeding, education and awareness relating to urban horse projects and programmes.

The week has seen a number of events, including talks in local schools, ahead of the Open Day on Saturday.

“It’s going to be great,” said Roisin.

“We have a wide variety of people coming. Again, it’s the message of just being aware of how much it takes to look after a horse correctly and obviously it’s worthwhile but it’s also extremely hard work so it’s not to jump in before you know all the facts.”

Roisin added that the club also tries to open young people’s minds to potential career opportunities linked to horse ownership.

“We’ve always brought them on trips to say, the master farriers, the race academy. We’re hoping to go and visit the equine school in the Irish Army,” she said.

“So again, it’s planting the seed that it can just be a meaningful hobby if that’s what you want it to be, but it can also be a lot more if you get the right skills behind you.”

Roisin said that she hopes that the centre will continue to grow as a community resource.

“It’s been a long time in the making with a lot of work going on behind the scenes and now we have the purpose-built building which opened last February, so we’re just shortly over a year operational,” she said.

“We have a part-time manager and we have community employment workers now which is great, they’re the backbone of the place.

“But everybody else is there in a volunteer capacity which gives a real sense of community pulling together and I hope in the future we will find funding to have more mainstream staff and further develop it but as it stands now, it’s a real community effort.”

The Ballyowen Equine Club Open Day will take place on Saturday from 11am to 3pm. All are welcome.

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