Horse Sport Ireland supports the IEVA Future Proof Student Initiative 2024

  • 20 December 2023, 17:25

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) were delighted to support the Irish Equine Veterinary Association (IEVA) ‘Future Proof Student Initiative’ at their annual conference hosted in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan from the 23-25th November 2023.

This initiative, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under National Breeding Services facilitated four veterinary students to attend the conference. The conference included several expert lead keynote lectures and research presentations including Equine reproduction, anthelmintics, Dentistry, orthopaedics, lameness and much more!

This also provided veterinary students with valuable networking and mentoring opportunities with established Equine vets in Ireland. Supporting students’ own development in the field to establish future career/development opportunities.

HSI, and indeed many HSI affiliates and the wider industry, require vets to across several National Breeding Services initiatives, and other equestrian events. It is important to encourage and retain training/student vets within the equine industry, and indeed in Ireland.

We spoke to some of the Horse Sport Ireland supported students, who had this to say of the conference:

Gregory Phelan, 5th year student, Warsaw University of Life Sciences

“I am 5th year student in Warsaw University of life sciences and upon completion of my studies I hope to work in the equine industry in Ireland. The opportunity for me was excellent as I was able to learn so much about the ins and outs of the Equine Veterinary industry in Ireland. As a fifth-year Veterinary student I am currently totally immersed in clinical studies, and while undertaking clinical studies I feel that it is very easy to forget about everything else that is going on in the world of Equine Veterinary.

The conference covered everything from the current major issues facing the sector and talks from experts regarding the future advancements. One of my key takings from the event was a talk from Nikki Walsh regarding Anthelminthic Resistance, it displayed the real issue that the industry is facing and requires action. My attendance at the conference allowed me to engage with all these things in a very welcoming setting. It was also a great opportunity to meet with my future colleagues and employers and use it as a discussion forum for myself to seek answers about my future career.

I believe the “Future Proof campaign” is a great idea and I would like to thank Horse Sport Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine for their support of this initiative”.

Emma Mulligan, 4th year student, Warsaw University of Life Sciences

“I grew up on a farm in the West of Ireland and although my parents are not horsey, I was lucky enough to grow up in the equine community. I have always been drawn to horses and I have had and produced my ponies from a young age. I love the performance Connemara classes, and above all, I love a day’s hunting with good company!

In 2020 I moved to Warsaw to begin my studies. There is over 200 Irish students studying in Warsaw University alone. The community here is fantastic and we can always count on one another for help or just a friendly chat. We have a Gaelic football team too, which is great for meeting others and having a break from studying. It is true that you are never more Irish than when you are abroad!

The programme continues to grow and from third year on becomes very practical. We are lucky to have a n equine clinic close to the campus and are  welcome to help out whenever we want. All the professors are very helpful and have made our adjustment to living in a foreign country much easier.

My key taking from the IEVA conference is that learning does not end at graduation and that there is so many different routes and research areas to work in after we graduate. It has definitely inspired me to look further into topics and studies beyond what we are taught in college. It was very interesting to hear the most up to date information in the industry and gave me an idea of what I can expect to be future problems while working as a vet.

The conference was a brilliant opportunity for us as students to meet the innovative and fantastic people leading the way in the equine veterinary industry. It was also great to meet students from other colleges, who perhaps one day might even become our colleagues! It also gave me a valuable insight into what would be the best route for me to take after graduation and it broadened my understanding and view of existing industry opportunities. Thank you again to Horse Sport Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine for this support!

Gregory and Emma at the 2024 IEVA Conference Gala Dinner

Kate Foley, final year graduate entry Veterinary Medicine student in UCD

“I am a final year graduate entry veterinary medicine student in UCD, having previously completed a degree in Animal Science – Equine in UCD. I hope to go on and work as a first opinion / ambulatory equine vet in the not-so-distant future!

The speakers were leading figures within the Irish equine veterinary industry and the opportunity to hear them speak on such a wide variety of equine topics was something I really valued. On the Friday, I found the talks on wound management and fracture stabilisation in the field to be very beneficial as I think these are topics, where in 6 months’ time as a newly graduated vet, I would hope to be able to draw on some of the information discussed. Similarly, the Saturday morning hearing industry experts discuss what was new in the research papers and discuss their opinion on research which has be published in recent months were talks I enjoyed as often as a student it can be hard to break down new research which can be more easily understood when presented in such a fashion. 

Not only was the program of talks presented over the two days of the conference in Cavan of benefit to me, the social and networking aspect of the event was a wonderful opportunity. As a student it can be difficult to make connections within the industry you are interested in. The conference provided the opportunity to not only meet expert vets within their field but also the chance to also network with other vets and new graduates based in multiple first opinion practices throughout the country – an excellent opportunity to network with those who will be colleagues in the not so distant future

I am very grateful to have had the support from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine and Horse Sport Ireland to attend this conference!”

Eimear Leahy, Veterinary Medicine student in UCD

“I found the conference extremely beneficial, in particular in how we discussed management of wounds and fractures in the field. The IEVA conference was extremely beneficial, not only was it educational, but it allowed us as students to meet with more senior vets. It really encouraged me to continue working in equine veterinary medicine.”


This initiative was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under National Breeding Services.