On Course 96; Horse sense.
And she owes it all to further education.
From the age of three, the horse-mad youngster had no doubt as to where her future lay.
And though her teachers at Lenzie Academy were sceptical at first, they eventually gave their blessing to her ambition.
Languages and mathematics simply didn't add up for Kirsty, who frankly admits that she regularly plunked school to take care of her animals.
But she faced more hurdles than there are at Aintree to fulfil her life's ambition.
The BHSAI - British Horse Society Assistant Instructor - certificate is neither easy nor cheap to come by.
And were it not for the courses and tutors available at Oatridge Agricultural College in Midlothian, Kirsty would not be where she is today. It was there that she studied for, sat, and passed crucial stages of her exam.
The BHSAI is a gruelling marathon of an exam than can cost more than pounds 500 to pass.
"There is no doubt that the discipline of the classroom helped me tremendously," said Kirsty.
SHE added: "It was a long and arduous struggle but it has been worth it in the long run.
"When you go for a qualification like the BHSAI you have to be totally dedicated.
"When you are not in the classroom you are working in the fields or on the yard.
"And the amount of information you have to retain is incredible."
Not only do you have to know how to look after, feed, and groom your animals you have to able to able to ride them, lunge them, and know the calorific value of everything you give them.
"On top of that there is the first aid exam where you have to give mouth- to-mouth resuscitation to a dummy," said Kirsty.
"It all may seem a long way from jumping on the back of a horse and having a good time but it is all part and parcel of running a safe and successful business -- and imparting your knowledge to those who seek it."
Kirsty now has her own riding school with more than 20 horses on the outskirts of Kirkintilloch.
But she's still got more learning to do yet.
"There are a lot more qualifications that I could and should have and I will be going for them," she said.
"You can always learn, no matter how old or how experienced you are and further education is a great thing."
Top rated instructors who are BHS-registered can earn in excess of pounds 40 an hour ... and run their own business at thesame time.
BHSAIs can command fees of pounds 15 an hour.
Kirsty says going to Oatridge was the opportunity of a lifetime for her.
She chose the college after considering two others and adds: "I think I backed a winner."
Oatridge offer a variety of animal and land-based courses for those with an outdoor outlook.
There are courses in the most modern agriculture for up-to-the-minute farmers, greenkeeping and groundsmanship for golf course tenders, horticulture for botanists and plant freaks, and engineering and mechanisation for those who want to fix tractors and combine harvesters.
"We believe we have the most extensive agricultural courses available in the country," said college boss Chris Nixon.
"And for those who prefer an outdoor life we believe we can provide the answers, from farriery to animal husbandry and from crop management to equine studies.
"We are fortunate with our facilities here in that we are able to take the classroom onto the farmyard.
"And there is no substitute for hands-on experience."
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Aug 13, 1996|
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