How I earned my spurs off a team of horse whisperers
FROM city girl to country and western chic, this is one business to get your cowboy boots stuck into.
We may be far from the wild west, but some of the country's most dedicated horse trainers are proving that the traditional cowboy is very much back in the saddle.
This weekend, punters will be going back to basics as one of the nation's biggest indoor horse events comes to Punchestown Racecourse.
Taking place on November 2 and 3, Equus live is a two-day event that is featuring celebrity master classes and quirky displays on top of the traditional dressage and jumping competitions.
Husband and wife team and self-confessed horse whisperers, Sarah and Chris Brady, are equine trainers with a difference.
The couple are licensed Parelli professionals and advocates of "natural horsemanship" a technique which they say is all about teaching people how to train their horse.
Sarah and Chris started their horse training business six years ago.
They describe the Parelli programme as a "primary school" for horses.
"It is derived from the original cowboy in America who developed a horse in order to do a particular job.
"It basically teaches people how to teach their horse," explained Sarah.
"It starts out with basic things like ground work which is often skipped over, and then we develop them in riding as well."
Intrigued to learn more, the Herald took a trip out to the couple's stead in Sallins, Co Kildare, where we put two of their students, Whiskey and Minx, through their paces.
Hoping that my weight combined with the saddle wouldn't be too much for poor Whiskey to take, I hopped on, rather nervously.
And I was soon fully convinced by the couple's training skills as more than once they managed to stop young Whiskey from going for a drink with nothing more than soothing words and a gentle pat.
I began to enjoy the jaunt and decided that Whiskey should graduate to secondary school for his patience.
There are currently six Parelli instructors in Ireland, from a concept that originated in the US and is now taking root across Europe. Sarah will take two of her horses to Equus Live where she will be conducting demonstrations using animals that are trained in dressage and jumping.
The couple say that they have also debunked the mystery that surrounds horse whispering.
"That is something that people associate with us, but it is just a system to teach people how to get on better with their horses," said Sarah.
Equus Live opens at Punchestown Racecourse, Co. Kildare on Saturday and Sunday, from 10-6 daily.