OVER 50 members from the Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE) visited Karlswood Stables, by kind invitation of Cian and Ruth O’Connor on Monday of this week, as Linda Young reports.

The group were graciously shown around the beautifully landscaped property by Cian who just returned from competing in Spain. It was clear to the AIRE group that a lot of research had gone into the plan of creating Karlswood.

Equines were undoubtedly being pampered and cared for in every possible way, from salt-steamed stables to water spas and treadmills. Every appliance is meticulously cleaned after each session to promote good health and prevent any cross-contamination. An isolated stable, away from the barn, with individual paddocks at the horses beck and call left for a very happy horse, who wanted to live outside.

The indoor arena was bright and airy, members found it hard to believe that the moisture in the silicone sand is controlled with underfloor piping, cutting out the normal dust that most indoor riders experience. The fabulous outdoor arena was as good as the very top international show rings with water jumps, stone wall and devils dike, no stone was left unturned. Cian explained he liked to introduce his horses to these questions slowly and quietly, he feels they are then ready for the bigger tasks abroad.

Students had a separate barn for their horses with tack rooms and wash bays adjacent to their own stables, canteens and shower facilities meant clients could have a quick lesson and head off to college.

Tack and feed rooms were better organised than most kitchens, beautifully finished with varnished wood - ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ as the old saying goes!

AIRE members had a truly marvellous morning enjoying the hospitality of one of Ireland’s top riders and came away feeling very privileged to have visited Cian at home and see him put a young rider through his paces but most of all, proud to think we have such a wonderful training facility in Ireland.