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Luke Drea, Event Rider

Luke Drea is a 3 Day Event Rider who is Self Employed. He left school before the the Leaving Cert exams to study in Kildalton Agricultural and Horticultural College in Kilkenny, where he completed the Sport Horse Production course. During his Transition year in school he took a year out to work with horses and did the British Horse Society stage I & 2 exams.

Ask me your
first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

When I was 16 I took my transition year out from school to get some practical experience with horses and to attempt the BHS (British Horse Society) instructors exams. During this year I took and passed BHS stage one and two exams and gained great practical experience both riding competition horses and with handling and training young horses from the ground up.

It was during this year I came to the conclusion that I wanted to have a career with horses. When I returned to school the following September I realised six weeks into the term that there was nothing more for me there and that I didn't want to sit my Leaving Cert exam.

Although my parents and family were not delighted, after much discussion they agreed on the one condition that I would enroll in Kildalton College the following academic year, which I did. And this basically was where my career with horses began.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

Far too many people to mention individually - my parents and family were extremely supportive and helped me in any way they could (even when they didn't necessarily agree with my choices) and I  think that was a major factor in my choices being successful. 

Also the many people who taught and trained me in my career so far, many of which I came to be in contact with either in or through Kildalton College. ....... thank you to you all....!!!

How did you go about getting your current job?

At the moment I am self employed. This is always what I wanted and over the years I have built up a big enough client base to enable me to do this.

Describe a typical day?

An average day begins around 8.30am, I feed the horses first thing and then muck out and aim to be riding by ten (although on show days I would start earlier and in the summer when I am eventing I could be on the road with the horses in the early hours of the morning as early as 3 or 4 am).

I aim to be finished riding around 4pm (although this rarely happens) which would give enough time to finish the yards and feed the horses to be finished by 5.30 or 6pm.

I would also usually teach one or two evening's in the week which would mean I would work till 9 or 10pm on those evenings. Monday is usually my day off although this has to be flexible.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My main task is riding and training the horses that I have in preparation for competition or for sale. Although I have a multitude of other responsibilities including the daily well being and care of the animals, teaching, yard work, direction of other staff and many other miscellaneous duties.

What are the main challenges?

Training and riding horses is extremely time consuming and it is the clock that I guess I feel the most pressure from. Particularly in the winter when the weather and the dark evenings make the days very short. Horses don't wear watches and there is no substitute for time and patience when training them. Trying to allocate time equally to all the horses I have to ride can be difficult.

What's cool?

From a very young age I loved animals and guess that being able to have a career working with them was always a dream.  In a modern "cyber" world I  feel really lucky to be able to spend time outdoors and lead a healthier lifestyle.  Also I get to do a lot of traveling with the horses which is great.

What's not so cool?

There is a lot of very menial physical work that I don't enjoy but can' t be gotten away from  i.e. mucking out, sweeping, care of pasture and riding surfaces etc.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

Obviously my riding skills are the most important for me and although I guess natural ability in that area is important, I think it is equally important to be hard working, dedicated and to push yourself and never be happy with nearly enough!.

A lot of people when riding and training horses put far too much focus on the horse and what it does right and wrong - I try, when I'm riding, to remember to put as much focus on me and what I'm doing right and wrong.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Although school subjects don't have a huge relevance in my career I think some of the business oriented subjects (accounts etc...) can be very useful for book keeping and the business management side of things. Fitness is also very important so sports and physical ED would also be useful.

What is your education to date?

As I mentioned earlier I didn't sit my Leaving Cert exams but instead went to Kildalton College and did the Sport Horse Production course. I also did the BHS (British Horse Society) AI exams and some of the EFI coaching courses both of which are relevant to teaching and coaching.

There is no real qualification for what I do and I would get most of my business through word of mouth, or from people that see me competing and decide to send me a horse.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

The time I spent in Kildalton College was great and opened my mind - which I think changed the direction of my career. Also I think the fact that I left school early was helpful as I got into the adult world a bit quicker, learned a lot of life skills and got acquainted with reality!.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

For me the biggest sense of achievement comes from winning prestigous competitions - which is usually the culmination of a lot of hard work.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?


What is your dream job?


Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Working with horses involves long tiring hours of very hard work especially during the busy competition season. This, in my opinion is a non-negotiable part of the hands-on side of an equestrian career and people should bear this in mind.

In my situation I take advantage of our crap Irish winter and try to make up some time for myself when the weather is bad and the days are dark either by getting down time at home or by getting away in the winter when things are quiet.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is more of a life style than a job.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

I think patience is vital both with the animals and sometimes more so with the people atached to them!

What is your favourite music?

very eclectic..... anything except hard rock really.

What is your favourite film?

the fifth element

What is your pet hate at work?

answering the phone... it never stops ringing!!!!

What is your star sign?


Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

I try to get training as much as possible - ideally weekly, but at the very least once a month. I also hope in the near future to work towards taking the next level of the BHS teaching qualification, the BHS II.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Relevent practical experience ie. working in competition yards as work rider or groom

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