Name: Charlie Flanagan
Based: Meadowbranch Stables, Ballyboughal, North County Dublin
Equestrian background: I’m fourth generation when it comes to horses and grew up with a strong passion for them. My dad is a Harness Racing owner and trainer, so I was behind a horse at a pretty young age. I began professional racing at 15 and became successful in the sport as a driver and also an owner in Canada. We have a training centre in Ontario, which provides stabling for over 100 horses. I only got my first pony at 13 and that’s when the show jumping door opened up.
Current level: I have four show jumpers in at the moment, competing at different heights up to 1.40m, and looking to increase this year. As they are four mares, it can be pretty interesting some days! I would love to grow this number in 2023 by adding some new owners.
Biggest win/achievement: I compete abroad in Europe quite regularly and a highlight for me so far was winning a speed class in Gorla Minore, Italy last year with my horse Mizen (Fennells Bay). I then finished off the tour in Lier, Belgium with some good results. My biggest achievement would be creating my own business, Meadowbranch Equine Therapy, and growing my clientele. Meadowbranch Equine Therapy sponsored the 1.20m Grand Final in Cavan International in September, another pretty big milestone.
College: I qualified as an EMT (equine massage therapist) early last year, my days consist of looking after my four horses in the morning and hitting the road for appointments in the afternoon. I’m still completing the graduate courses to add to my degree, so the studying and learning never really ends!
Work: I’m loving working on the road as an EMT. I’m meeting so many new people and working on some really nice horses all across Ireland, I’ve even branched to the UK and intend to bring work to Canada this year also. I have clients in every discipline- show jumping, dressage, cross-country, thoroughbred, harness racing and happy hackers.
SI specialise in Kinesiology taping, light therapy and lymphatic drainage, my hands still remain my most useful tool. I cater for every horse’s needs, whether they’re coming back from an injury or rest, or preparing them for a big competition, or even correcting the structure of a foal’s crooked leg with K-Tape! There’s never a day that’s the same.
Training: I studied with Therese Murphy of Equi-Ed Ireland in Wexford. Therese is an excellent tutor but not only that, a good friend of mine now. I still attend training days and some CPD courses so I see her regularly.
How it all started: After I left school, I knew if horses weren’t going to be part of my future, I wasn’t interested. My plan was to move to the farm in Canada and study, becoming an EMT over there for five years. However I stumbled upon Equi-Ed one day, and it led me to where I am today. My parents were relieved, Wexford is a lot closer than Canada.
Biggest challenges: I would say my biggest challenge so far is getting some people to believe in Equine Massage Therapy. There’s plenty of old-fashioned thinkers out there that are hard to convince, but once I work on their horse and they feel a difference as well as seeing it in their performance, they soon believe! And that’s what makes it so rewarding.
Goals: My long term goal is to develop our training centre here into a Spa Therapy Centre in the future - a one stop show. We plan to add an equine pool soon. I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead for me in 2023.
North County Dublin's Charlie Flanagan specialises in equine massage therapy at Meadowbranch Equine Therapy, Ballyboughal