30th September 2015

Meet Aoife Byrne ahead of the Side Saddledash

I grew up on a small farm in Ireland next door to my uncle’s Park House Stud which has been breeding Thoroughbred horses for 4 generations.

I starting riding from the age of 4, progressing through the pony club system, doing dressage & showing ponies in the summer & hunting with my local pack the Carlow Farmers in the winter. My sister & I took up side saddle at a young age as another discipline to do with our versatile ponies – competing at the Royal Dublin show was the highlight of the summer & then we went hunting in the winter! Another draw to side saddle was how beautiful & elegant the ladies hunters looked – as a young girl I dreamt of one day riding the champion side saddle hunter at the Dublin show!

After gaining my degree over 8 years ago from university in Budapest, Hungary I started working as an equine vet with various jobs over the intervening years in Ireland, Gloucestershire & now I am based in Norfolk. I specialise in internal medicine, stud work & ophthalmology.

I’m aiming to get race fitness training done on the gallops with a local trainer & as part of my preparation will have a few days autumn hunting too.

On the race day my husband will come along to support me as well as my sister & numerous friends – who are all very excited! My Mum would be too nervous to watch but hopefully can watch it on a video when it’s all safely over!

I’m riding Lord Attica, a 16 year old Irish bred bay gelding who’s has had many outings with 6 wins, 9 seconds & 11 thirds in a variety of race types but never raced at Wincanton.

He’s owned & trained by Karen Bamford & was bred by Joseph Sheahan.

I have done charity rides before – for example in Ireland for the Make a Wish Foundation & most recently I took part side saddle in the 10 mile Badminton charity ride in aid of Hope for Tomorrow (see photo below).

It was during my time working in Gloucestershire that a veterinary friend’s son was paralysed from the neck down. His name is Rob Camm & is an inspiration to many with his amazing courage & bravery to get on & live his life. He started his university degree at Bristol & recently was the first tetraplegic person to complete a Tough Mudder race.

http://www.cammpaign4rob.co.uk/

Really looking forward to the race – it is going to be a truly memorable day!