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ITBA EDUCATION: Helping breeders to improve their business
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ITBA EDUCATION: Helping breeders to improve their business
on 14 June 2019
Kerry Ryan of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association spoke to Mark Costello about the ITBA's educational programme for 2019

MC: Give us a little background on the ITBA’s educational programme. When did it start?

KR: In its capacity as the officially recognised representative body for breeders, at both national and EU level, the ITBA has been successful in securing funding for its annual educational programme for the last 15 years.

This came initially from the Government’s National Development Plan and in more recent years through the Department of Agriculture, under its equine technical support and breeding scheme project.

To date over 120 individual courses have been provided for Irish breeders and the wider Irish bloodstock industry. The costs for those attending have been heavily subsidized thanks mainly to the financial support we receive each year from the Government.

MC: From the ITBA’s perspective what are the principle objectives of these educational programmes?

KR: We aim to deliver ambitious, breeder focused programmes, with tailor made content to assist breeders (established and emerging) in meeting the many challenges of 21st century thoroughbred production. The ITBA advocates for a culture of lifelong learning within the workplace. It is something we are very passionate about and we encourage breeders and stud farm owners to put time and effort into creating this ethos within their operations.

MC: Do any of these courses come with a recognised qualification?

KR: When possible, programmes includes a number of QQI (Level 4) Government approved and accredited courses. Once successfully completed, they result in a recognised certification. With many of our veterinary-based courses and evening lectures we look to secure CVE (Continuing Veterinary Education) points from the Veterinary Council of Ireland. While breeders may not benefit from this directly, we feel the more informed your vet is, the more they can benefit your breeding operation.

MC: What is the process for designing the programme and does it differ each year?

KR: We normally sit down at the beginning of the year to review the previous year’s programme in term of both take-up and feedback. We ask all who attend our courses to complete a feedback form, encouraging them to be as frank and honest as they can. This allows us to modify and improve our educational programme.

We actively seek suggestions and ideas from members as to what topics they would like covered. When possible, we include new elements based on this feedback. For example, two new topics being included this year are debt recovery and video production, both of which were suggested last year.

We always include some health and safety elements.

Workshops which prove popular, such as foal sales preparation and breeding season preparation, have become stalwarts on the programme. We also endeavor to respond to the ever-increasing legislative requirements being thrust upon our industry and in turn encourage breeders to be fully informed and compliant in such areas.

We are in the digital age, and we want to equip breeders with the necessary skillset to embrace and make the most of online applications.

MC: What is planned for this year?

KR: The first element takes place at the ITBA offices from July 1st-8th, our annual summer educational series. It will cover all areas of bloodstock administration along with two health and safety-related certified courses. The relevant information can be found on the website, via our social media platforms, and on the ITBA app which can be easily download from the App Store.

Our educational programme for the rest of the year includes:

  • July 15-17: First Aid Responder & manual handling at Mount Coote Stud, Limerick
  • Early August: Management development programmes in Co Meath & Co Tipperary
  • Mid-September: Foal sales preparation in tandem with Irish National Stud
  • Oct/Nov: Autumn-Winter veterinary lecture series, Co Kildare
  • Mid-December: Breeding season preparation in tandem with Irish National Stud
  • First Aid Responders refresher course (subject to demand)
  • Contact details


    Tel: (045) 877543


    What breeders say

    “What I find so good about the ITBA’s educational programmes is that they are all tailored to the specific needs of breeders and those working within the Irish thoroughbred industry. The programmes cover everything from health and safety, computers to employment law. The ITBA team and the instructors are very welcoming, as a result of which you feel totally at ease – far from that of a school setting” – Olive O’Connor Bloodstock

    “I attended a management development programme at the ITBA offices at the start of the year. Those of us working in the thoroughbred industry tend to be so absorbed with our daily hands-on work with horses that we often overlook the business management side of our operation. I found this course was extremely helpful in addressing this shortcoming that we can easily fall into.

    The ITBA put together a thoroughly professional team of instructors to guide us towards better business practices. As an aside, I found the coffee breaks useful in providing an opportunity to share our business problems and our recently acquired knowledge with our peers in the bloodstock industry. Well done to ITBA in providing this course which I found so helpful. I look forward to similar learning opportunities in the future” – Richard Brabazon, Rangers Lodge

    “I attended both the GDPR and stud farm admin courses during the ITBA’s summer series in 2018. As they were delivered in an interactive manner, the information was made relevant to each attendee and their current roles within the industry. I now work more efficiently, thanks to attending the series.” - Anna McSparron, Rahinston Stud.

    “Each year the ITBA creates and hosts a super education programme for its breeders, allowing us to be well informed on new regulatory arrangements. Mount Coote Stud is delighted to play host to a three-day First Aid Responder (QQI Level 4) course and a manual handling course at our farm.” – Luke Lillingston, Mount Coote Stud

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