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Amy delighted to Saddle Up By The Sea

'Every day can be fulfilling in so many different ways when you work in tourism', says one Limavady woman who turned her hobby into a full-time career

Stunning countryside and beach views are all in a day's work at Crindle Stables, which has now rebranded as Crindle Bespoke Experience. Pictures, Tourism Northern Ireland
Stunning countryside and beach views are all in a day's work at Crindle Stables, which has now rebranded as Crindle Bespoke Experience. Pictures, Tourism Northern Ireland Stunning countryside and beach views are all in a day's work at Crindle Stables, which has now rebranded as Crindle Bespoke Experience. Pictures, Tourism Northern Ireland

Providing bespoke and inclusive horse-riding experiences for visitors has been ‘neigh’ bother for a Limavady woman who followed her heart and embarked on a new career.

 

Saddle Up By The Sea, which is part of Tourism NI’s Embrace a Giant Spirit experience brand, has proved to be enormously popular with visitors, but for the mother and daughter at the reins of the business, working in tourism hadn’t been in their plans.

Amy Patterson completed her degree in language and linguistics and had her heart set on pursuing a career in primary school teaching. Her further studies saw her complete a PGCE in teaching.

However, after some soul searching, she decided a career in the classroom was not for her and while contemplating training as a speech therapist or working with children with disabilities, Amy began to become more involved in the family business and helping her mum, Hazel at Crindle Stables, which has now rebranded as Crindle Bespoke Experiences.

Amy said: “We have always provided riding lessons, but it was never as part of a tourism offering, now it is exciting to think that we are making people’s trips even more special.

“The longer I worked at the stables, the more I was able to bring my teaching skills to the fore and mum and I ended up completely revamping what we offered to provide visitor experiences.

“It is wonderful to be able to turn something I have always done as a hobby into a thriving business. To spend my days with my mum and our horses as well as meeting new and interesting people and being out in the countryside or on the beautiful Downhill beach is a real joy.”

A REAL FAMILY AFFAIR: After completing a PGCE Amy Patterson decided a traditional career in teaching wasn't for her. She instead became heavily involved in helping her mum, Hazel at Crindle Bespoke Experiences, and hasn't looked back

Amy is thankful for the direction her career has gone in and encourages anyone else who may be at a crossroads to be patient.

“I’m really glad I made the decision to step back from teaching and I would encourage others to follow their heart.

"Providing visitor experiences has been so rewarding. A couple from America joined us recently to get engaged on the beach and to play a part in such a momentous occasion like this was a real privilege.

“Every day can be fulfilling in so many different ways when you work in tourism. We know a large percentage of people visiting the stables have never been on a horse, so to see them become more confident and relaxed around the animals as the day goes on is special.

“For anyone considering switching careers, if you believe in something enough you can make it happen, especially if you are really motivated.

“I’m very thankful I have been able to take the skills I learned with teaching and use them in a different way, it has given me a real sense of purpose.

“It is great working alongside mum and we have been able to develop processes that work for us and our lives – we aren’t stuck on that hamster wheel all day every day.

“Mum recently retired after 35 years in health care and working in tourism has given her a great work-life balance as the hours can be flexible."

Both Amy and Hazel are also encouraging others thinking of entering the tourism industry in Northern Ireland to embrace the opportunity.

Hazel said: “We have met so many different people since we began working in tourism. We are proud to be an experience provider with Embrace a Giant Spirit and really enjoy giving our visitors a warm welcome.

“When it comes to the other experience providers there is a real sense of community. From well-established large tourism attractions through to smaller businesses like our own there is a togetherness.

“People are happy to offer advice and give support where needed, it is a very supportive environment to be in.”

Saddle Up By The Sea is all about providing an inclusive experience whereby people can enjoy each other’s company, immerse in the beautiful surroundings of the Causeway Coast and even practise some mindfulness along the way.

Amy said: “From my teaching studies, I know children don’t necessarily want to be taught something in the traditional way, they want to learn by having fun, so that’s what we do on Saddle Up By The Sea and the other experiences we offer.

“We are in such a beautiful part of the world with amazing scenery, so we started to provide experiences the whole family could do together, rather than just being confined to our stables.

“As someone with a disability myself, I am passionate about making our experiences as inclusive as possible. We can cater for people with autism, those with disabilities as we have a special saddle, and elderly people can join their grandchildren which is special to see.

“We love to share our stories which our visitors really enjoy. My sister Hannah has competed for Team Ireland U21s and people love to hear her story – which in many ways is the story of Crindle Stables.

“Mum took Hannah riding when she was about six and of course Hannah became totally addicted. One thing led to another, and we ended up opening the business.

“The visitors meet Hannah’s horses although they are much more athletic than the Irish Cobs we use for the experiences. We like to say the Irish Cob has a relaxed personality much like most Irish people.

“Arriving at the beach is really the ‘wow’ moment for our visitors. It is very special to be on the beach on horseback – some can go for a trot or walk in the water or even go up into the dunes.

“We love what we’re doing, switching careers to work in tourism has been so fulfilling for me and I would encourage anyone thinking of working in this industry to ‘saddle up’.