Jessica Harrington (75) is a renowned Irish horse trainer who has been in the profession since she was 40 years old. She lives and works in Commonstown, Co. Kildare and has three daughters and one son.
Three words that describe you.
My daughter described me as crazy, ambitious and fun.
how were you raised
I was pretty outgoing. My brother John was only a year older than me so we did everything together. we had dogs I had a country life and I was happy about it.
We grew up with horses and as far as I can remember I have always been able to ride. My father rode horses and played polo, and my mother rode horses too. My Irish born father used to trade in horses. He was retired from the British Army and then became a farmer.
Which parent do you take after the most?
I’m more like my father. I can have a short fuse, but when I throw a little tantrum, it’s always over. I never hold grudges. If you want to give someone something, give it to someone and then it’s over.
What drives you?
I’ve always been ambitious and always wanted more. If I win a race, I want to win another race. I like being successful, but I enjoy life. It’s also about the journey. i love the plan With a desire to win, there’s always massive disappointment along the way.
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How do you deal with disappointments?
Like everything in life, you can deal with it. I always think about what I could have done better, but I don’t deal with it.
You were late for horse training. As?
I rode horses until I was 40 and took care of the family and did little things. I’ve always been into horses and trained a bit, but nothing to the extent that I’ve landed now.
How would you describe your job?
I receive young horses from owners and breeders. They could be show jumpers or flat horses. They come in and get breached. Then it’s the training of them. You train them every day. We have good drivers and they are developing. If you get them before they turn two, it’s amazing how they change. Like children, some grow up faster than others, and some are lanky. Some run fast and some don’t. Horses are individuals. They all have different quirks and that affects how to train them and get the best out of them.
What is special about horses?
They’re just lovely animals. Most of them are very nice.
Are you still driving?
I stopped riding every day about six years ago. I suddenly realized that I’d rather be on the ground looking at the horses than sitting on them.
What have horses taught you?
They are great levelers. You could be on top of the world one day and the next day you think everything is going wrong. They keep you grounded.
Best advice you got?
Go with your gut feeling.
Best advice you give?
Think positive. You must be optimistic.
What’s the biggest misconception about horses?
Humans and the horse world?
People think it’s very glamorous and that you dress smartly. In reality, it’s a lot of early morning hours and cold, bad weather. It’s a lot of hard work and disappointment. You work 24/7. With horses you can’t close the door on Friday and open it on Monday and say, “Hello, did you have a nice weekend?” They need to be fed, watered and mucked out. It’s not a glamorous job, but I love it.
How has motherhood changed you?
You become less selfish, have to think of others – and cannot give them back.
What are you doing to laugh?
I have some good friends. We started walking our dogs during Covid and we have continued to walk. I try to go for a walk every evening. I had a new knee in January but it’s great now.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/racing-trainer-jessica-harrington-i-have-a-short-fuse-but-if-i-have-a-little-tantrum-it-is-over-and-done-with-i-never-bear-grudges-41995266.html Race Coach Jessica Harrington: “I’ve got a short fuse but if I throw a little tantrum it’s over. I never hold grudges”