The last few weeks at the National Stud have been fantastic; the days are getting slightly longer and weather is getting better. Lots of mares and foals are going out in nurseries, paddocks; some older ones are being turned out together in the bigger fields, which is always a lovely sight for us students and the tours. During this time I have been lucky enough to have worked on the Foaling unit/ Wavertree yard, Burrell (Spellers) and Bentinck.
The Foaling unit is full of mares that are soon to foal down and Wavertree is full of heavy mares that are towards the end of their third trimester of pregnancy (getting close to foaling down). Here we check the mares a few times a day to see if they are bagged up, waxed up or running milk. We also have regular visits from the farriers and vets. All students have the chance to assist with foaling’s, I’m lucky enough to have assisted with 4 so far. Lara, the Foaling unit supervisor is fantastic on explaining everything and talking us through how the foal is presenting, the birth up to the foal standing to suckle and placenta checks. The following day, one of the Vets from either Rossdales or Newmarket Equine Hospital (NEH) will be along to carry out new born checks which is always interesting to see. The mares and foals usually stay for 4 days before moving on to Bentinck or Rosebery yard.
I have been lucky enough to go out on a vet round at the stud, there are 2 rounds, NEH first thing and Rossdales mid-morning. This was extremely interesting being able to see the mare scans and have the vets explain exactly what was happening. Also to prepare the mares for swabs and being able to look down the speculum and see in person what is explained extensively in the lectures on the Evening Lecture Programme.
Burrell yard is solely for horses that require rest and/or rehabilitation from racing, whether from injury or post-surgery. The routine there is dependent on the vets guidance it may be horses are on box rest, in hand walking or to have time on the horse walker. The yard is totally different to the stud aspects but it was a very interesting yard to be on. I got the chance to deal with a variety of horses on different regimes and felt it was a real confidence boost. I found it very rewarding having the opportunity to present the horses to their owners.
Currently I am on Bentinck yard which is full of mares and foals at slightly different ages. The foals little personalities are really showing now and being so hands on is amazing. The routine here is teasing some mares to see when they will be ready to get back in foal. Vets and farrier visits are usually carried out first thing so all mares and foals can have a good amount of turn out time.
I am looking forward to heading to the stallion unit over the next few days to really get an insight, assist with the stallion care and to see some coverings.
So we are several weeks into the 2019 Diploma course. We are a really diverse group of people in terms of nationality, background and age. The management team and staff have been amazing, incredibly welcoming and helpful. They couldn’t have done any more for us and we appreciate the unique opportunity and challenge the Diploma course offers.
Week one was a great introduction, we visited Weatherbys and Tattersalls which was very informative for us in understanding their function and key roles within the industry. The visit to the National Heritage Centre was fantastic, there is so much history and information to see – we could have spent a day there if we had time! We were lucky enough to also visit Cheveley Park Stud and seeing Pivotal was a highlight for me, he is such a legend! The Evening Lecture Programme has started and we have been able to do Q&A`s with expert vets James Crowhurst and Huw Neal about the Mares reproduction system which was really helpful before commencing our time on the yards.
Week two was more of a practical introduction to the site layout, the studs currently has ten different yards working devoted to specific functions so it has taken time to become familiar with the routines. The highlight of the week was looking at the new stallions. Lancaster Bomber was a brilliant racehorse and his race record speaks for itself, having won or been placed in 7 group 1`s he looks pure class. Rajasinghe is a great individual, you can evidently see where his explosive power and speed came from, he looks very precocious but that’s not surprising given he broke the track record in the Gr.2 Coventry as a 2 year old. Time Test is a seriously stunning horse, everything about him oozes quality and it was difficult not to be impressed. It’s one thing looking at mating plans and statistics but there’s nothing like seeing them in the flesh.
Weeks three and four have focused on practical arrangements and procedures. As well as the day to day care and monitoring of the foals and mares. This includes picking out their feet, taking temperatures, grooming and mucking out, there are weekly lectures after work. It is hectic, typically the alarm goes off at 6am, with time to get coffee before heading off to do the various yards. There is lots to do in preparation for the forthcoming busy foaling period. We have over thirty foals on the ground and expect to have about hundred more before the end of the season – its hard work but very enjoyable!