Agri Aware, the independent agri-food educational body, has collaborated with Equuip, the industry education and training department of Horse Racing Ireland, to launch the ‘From Foal to Race’ transition year programme.

The pilot programme was successfully rolled out in January this year, seeing almost 4,000 students from 120 schools around the country take part in the new initiative.

The Agri Aware and Equuip collaboration offers a comprehensive overview of the horse racing and breeding industry.

Feedback from the pilot programme was very positive, with 92% of teachers who took part in the project rating it between four and five stars.

Agri Aware and Equuip brought students from St Joseph's College, Borrisoleigh, racing in Thurles Racecourse to help launch the second year of the 'From Foal to Race' TY programme.

Rural reach

The horse racing and breeding industry is worth €1.84bn to the Irish economy and employs approximately 29,000 people across a wide rural reach.

This programme will continue to raise awareness of Ireland’s racing and breeding industry, increase the understanding of the foal-to-race story and highlight the many careers within this vibrant industry.

A new addition to the project for 2023 will be linking TY students to their local racecourses, so they can understand the sport and the industry better and build relationships with those working in all aspects of the industry - from jockeys, trainers, stable staff, breeders and administrators to support services.

The programme contains six chapters, including horse basics, making a racehorse, breeding and stud farms. Students also participate in a series of interactive webinars and have to submit a group project to complete the programme.

In addition, the programme also covers transferable skills of group work, debate, public speaking and research.

The programme also provides foundational knowledge for the Leaving Certificate cycle within biology, business and agricultural science. No prior knowledge of horse racing or the equine industry is necessary to participate in the programme.

Students from St. Joseph’s Borrisoleigh Jack Maher, Kalyn Treacy and Daniel Fogarty at Thurles Racecourse for the Agri Aware and equuip From Foal to Race TY Launch.

Agri Aware chair Alan Jagoe said: “The ‘From Foal to Race’ pilot programme was a great success, so I am delighted to see it launched as a full transition year programme.

"Agri Aware prides itself on providing free hands-on programmes for schools, so it was great to have everyone from St Joseph’s at Thurles Racecourse to get a real feel for what happens at a race day and behind the scenes in the horse racing and breeding industry."

From Foal to Race runs from January to May 2023 and teachers can register for free on the From Foal To Race programme page here.