‘Life is extremely busy,” Wendy Donnellan-Conlon says. “My husband Pat works full time, and the kids all have different interests. My son Kristian is 12, and he plays rugby and hurling. My oldest girl, Rebekah, has just turned 19 and loves to dance. My youngest daughter, Ellie is 13, and she plays rugby alongside competing at showjumping competitions. In amongst it all, I run my own business. Life is hectic, but I love it.”

Wendy grew up around horses, although she didn’t properly learn to ride until later in life. She was keen to participate when a local drag hunt was formed in nearby Kiltormer, and decided to give it a try. Hastily purchasing a green three-year-old horse, Wendy found herself on a steep educational trajectory. “I learned the hard way!’ she says, laughing. Hunting with the Kiltormer Drag Hunt and the East Galway Hunt further fuelled Wendy’s passion for horses and led to her joining the South Roscommon Riding Club. Here, she enjoyed many days out competing and training, making friends and enjoying herself.

Caught the bug

Finding herself well and truly bitten by the showjumping bug, Wendy decided to try her hand in the Showjumping Ireland amateur classes. She found an exceptional horse called Mornane Aragon, and together, they achieved some notable successes in the ring.

“I trained really hard during lockdown. I started doing 70cm classes in the riding club, and I slowly moved up. My horse taught me so much; he was brilliant at his job.”

In 2021, she qualified Mornane Aragon for the RDS Dublin Horse Show. Sadly, Wendy’s hopes were dashed three days before departing for the capital when the horse went lame.

“It was so disappointing to miss the chance. Our daughter Ellie took up riding not long after that and has taken to it quickly and easily. She has caught up on me already. Ellie jumped in the 128cm classes last year and is now competing in 138cm classes. She recently qualified her pony, Carnhill Rascal, for this year’s RDS Dublin Horse Show, and it is lovely to hand over the reins to her. I love going to all the pony shows with her.

“Our older daughter Rebekah doesn’t ride but loves being around the horses. Although our son Kristian has no interest in riding, he likes to come to the bigger shows with us.” Wendy currently owns 10 horses, which are a mix of broodmares, young stock and competition horses and ponies.

Wendy Donnellan-Conlon, daughters Rebekah (unmounted) and Ellie, and Carnhill Rascal. \ Pat Conlon

Alongside raising her children, Wendy worked as an ICU nurse. She spent time caring for patients with head injuries in a hospital in Dublin before working in ICU in a hospital in Galway. In 2020, Wendy stepped away from nursing to set up her own business, Habitat Health.

“I provide consultations and advice using natural solutions for physical and emotional health and wellness. For some people, the traditional medical model hasn’t worked. For others, they would like an alternative that avoids reliance on medications. I use my nursing experience as well as everything I have learned about holistic healthcare.”

Customer support forms the basis of Wendy’s business model, and she is on hand to guide and assist. “A huge part of my business is educating and teaching people, creating protocols for them and providing resources and support. I want people to empower themselves.”

Wendy runs occasional equine workshops, where people learn how to help their horses using a holistic approach to health and wellness solutions.

“I want to continue getting the message into communities in Ireland and abroad that people have choices, and to encourage them to look after their own and their family’s health. I have a real passion for health and wellness in the workplace, too, and in time, I would like to explore that a little more.”