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29 January 2021

Welcome to the second part of Kylie Manser-Baines’s blog. Hanging up her racing saddle, Kylie was committed to rehoming racehorses but about to start another dangerous line of work…

In 2019, my business was awarded the prestigious title of RoR Accredited Rehoming Centre and I have rehomed several horses through this charitable scheme. Only 10 rehoming Centres were formally approved as meeting the criteria required to receive funding for the rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming of vulnerable former racehorses. The Centres are assessed in a range of areas to ensure they meet the criteria of an Accredited Rehoming Centre. As well as checking that the on-site facilities were of a high standard, such as stabling, exercise, schooling and turn-out areas, the Centres were also assessed on their staffing, veterinary care provisions, rehoming programme and governance, as well as the overall sustainability of the operation. I was very pleased that my business was up to scratch.

I hope to develop my business further by selecting more quality horses and producing them for the RoR classes. I competed my own horse Laatafreet in the RoR classes and qualified him for the Hickstead final at his second attempt a few years ago.  My partner specialises in show jumping and I would love to find a thoroughbred that I can produce to win the RoR Show Jumping classes.

Firefighting was my dream career

I was really keen on the idea of being a Firefighter when I was a teenager, as I find it very rewarding helping others, having a hands-on job and being in a disciplined profession. However, horses took over when I was younger.

I am now a full-time Firefighter with the London Fire Brigade.  After a lengthy application process, I started training in January 2020 and was posted to Forest Hill Fire Station last April.  When I started seriously considering this way of life in 2019, I was worried that you’d need to be big and strong but actually it’s not always about that. The other day I had to get a fox out of someone’s house where it had spent the night sleeping on the spare bed. Another time, I had to rescue a Chihuahua from a burning house and you didn’t need to be big and strong for those jobs! It is a very difficult job to get into with a lengthy and demanding application process, not to mention a long and intensive initial training period so I am very pleased I was successful!

Two jobs combining well

I was rehoming around 60 racehorses a year prior to joining the London Fire Brigade and anticipate that dropping but only by a little. The two careers combine pretty well, as I work on shifts for the Fire Brigade, which means there are only two days each week when I can’t do my horses in the day but I’m able to work round that.  It’s nice to be able to carry on with the horses but be able to supplement it with a steady income from the Fire Brigade.

It is early days for me as a Firefighter and I am still learning my new career each day on the job but in time I hope to work up the ranks. There is a huge opportunity for career progression. I carry out day-to-day firefighting, rescues and fire safety work. I hope I can progress to being a Leading Firefighter who is in charge of the crew of a fire appliance/engine. The next progression is Sub Officer, who is in charge of the watch at smaller fire stations; then it’s Station Officer who is in charge of the watch at larger fire stations. They can all take charge at incidents. Ranks past this level are more office based and less hands on.

Firefighters tackle a wide range of emergency situations where problem-solving and initiative is vital to resolve incidents quickly and calmly. Before I joined, I didn’t realise the range; I always knew that I would see some quite horrific things, but you can’t prepare yourself for acid attacks, burns victims and people who have jumped in front of trains.  Those are few and far between, though.  More often we find ourselves dealing with automatic fire alarms, flooding, gaining entry to houses and small domestic fires.

My days as a jockey still helping

Working in a male-dominated environment in racing has helped me settle in well in the Fire Brigade.  As a jockey you have to be a good team player to stay safe and get on with people, and that really helps in my new job.  You have to be brave to ride horses and to go into fires.

As a jockey, I worked long and unsociable hours, which also meant that I knew how to handle my new life. Being a jockey gave me great knowledge and an understanding of thoroughbreds and also I know how they were ridden and trained when in racing, which I think is a huge advantage when it comes to retraining them. 

Heart of the community

I plan to progress up the ranks within the Fire Brigade but now I am concentrating on completing my Apprenticeship in as short a time as possible (18 months). I have worked all through Covid, which has meant I have been very much involved with helping the local community.

As a Firefighter I feel rewarded by helping others and at times risking my life in doing so.  I knew the London Fire Brigade would be very diverse in terms of what jobs we get and the different people and cultures we deal with on the job.  One day I might be helping the local food bank unload vans of food supplies for the less fortunate in the local community and the next I am crouching in a loft fighting a fierce blaze from the adjoining house. Starting my job during the Covid-19 Pandemic has added another dimension to an already demanding job.  I am proud to represent the London Fire Brigade and to help save lives.

JETS a support throughout

The Jockeys Employment Training Scheme (JETS) have supported me throughout my new careers with invaluable advice and training.  With the help of JETS, I am a fully qualified LGV and trailer driver and I have driven for RaceRight (racehorse transporters) and ETA (international horse transporters). I have found these qualifications essential to transport my own horses. My LGV qualification will also be used in the Fire Brigade to drive the fire engines and will be supplemented by a qualification to drive on blue lights (EFAD Emergency Fire Appliance Driver).

Whenever I have new ideas about my career, I call Lisa Delaney (JETS manager) and she is always very helpful, giving me advice and pointing me in the right direction.  When I got in touch about becoming a Firefighter, Lisa put me in contact with Alan Daly (another former jockey turned Firefighter) for guidance.

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Winning the JETS Jockey Club Achievement Award meant so much to me because it shows that people have recognised my commitment and achievement to both jobs that I have chosen after my racing career. It is very important that racing is a socially responsible sport and I feel that I have taken that culture and used it when both retraining ex-racehorses and Firefighting.

Go back to read part one of Kylie’s blog

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