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Hannah’s Blog - March 2016

Mares foal inside in Ireland
Mares foal inside in Ireland

Hello All,

Last month I worked night shifts foaling down mares in the foaling unit, which was a great experience, as I have never foaled down in a box before. Over the three nights I had 9 mares that all foaled happy and healthy babies. Foaling in a box did bring a new challenge for me as we had to work in a small space/area and we had to make sure the mare would not lie down too close to the wall as it would restrict our movement around her if she needed help. All and all this was a fantastic three nights and I am very much looking forward to the next night shifts that I will be on.

Following my night shifts at the foaling unit, I went to my first placement in Maddens Town Yard, which is the area of the farm where all the dry, barren and maiden mares are kept. Here we were to look after these mares as well as take them for covers and assist in the vetting and teasing of the mares to get them ready to be covered by various stallions.

Most of the mares at Maddens Town Yard were walk in mares and would come in just to be covered by the stallions at the Irish National Stud, additionally there were other mares that would arrive and be traveling on to visit other stallions on outside stud farms. Some of these mares would only be in the yard for a week or two. Other mares would stay for longer until they scanned in foal. There were also some mares that were boarding in preparation for travelling to England or other countries.

I really enjoyed this placement in this yard as it was very interesting to learn how a mare would respond to the stallion in different stages of their cycle leading up to getting covered.

The vetting of the mares was also interesting, I learned what different treatments the vets might use on the mare and also the development of the folical in the mare.

Following the week in Maddens Town Yard I was back in the Blandford yard. Last time I was there the yard only had yearlings. These yearlings have since then moved on to a different part of the farm, and now the yard is used for mares and foals. This yard is used for the mares and foals that have travel from England and other counties around Europe to come here to visit the stallions at the farm. These mares are mostly 25 to 30 days post foaled so they are coming here to get covered on their second cycle. This was another good week and I learnt a lot.

During that week, the Cheltenham Festival was on, which is the biggest week of jumps racing. All of the students over here were all very excited that this time of year had come around and there was plenty of money made and lost during the week!
Snowing in March in Ireland
Snowing in March in Ireland

My last week of the March I was in Kildare yard, which is another place on the farm where young foals and mares are kept. The mares that come to this yard come straight from the foaling unit on the farm. This was yet again a great yard to be on, as I love working with foals and it is something I am going to get involved with more in the future. This yard also had the added bonus of being one of the busiest places as all of the tourists come and visit. We really had to keep an eye on them and the children when we were bringing in the horses. I had to get used to getting my photo taken a lot as they all like taking photos of us walking the horses in from the paddock at night. I think is great for the tourists to have that experience and see some day to day things that are involved in working on a stud farm.

This month we also has some guest lecturers come in and talk about the handicapping system over here in both the flat and jumps racing. These lectures were very interesting to listen to as I myself did not know too much about how the handicapping system works or how the handicapper rates each horse and give them a certain weight for each race. Noel O'Brien, the senior Irish Jumps handicapper, was very interesting to listen to as he spoke all about the horses from the Cheltenham festival which was the week before and how some of the horses ratings may change going forward.

All and all this was yet another great month at the Irish National Stud, and I can't thank the people enough that have made this possible and I am looking forward to the future in this industry.

Till next time,

Hannah