Keith & Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship recipient Alice Jeffries gives an update on her time at the Irish National Stud.
Since my last update, I have spent three out of the previous five weeks in the foaling unit during the day.
I have enjoyed these weeks as it has been very busy as the farm has already foaled down 160 mares, and it's always exciting to come into the yard every morning and see which mares have foaled overnight. I have enjoyed being in this yard as I have got to further my foaling experience, however, my favourite part has been the vetting at the beginning of each day to check the mares after foaling and the newborn foals. This is helping me learn so much about different conformation faults and warning signs within newborn foals.
During the morning checks, the vet will look at the foal's eye, gums, neck, ribs, navel and conformation, as well as take blood for the foal’s IgG test after 12 hours of life. They will also check the mare's gums, heart rate and temperature to check that she has come through the foaling safe and sound. It was great to have the vets explain what they were doing and why they were doing it to improve our understanding.
I also spent a week in Murphy and Minoru yards which are home to pregnant mares who are about to head up to the foaling unit and also some quarantine mares. It was a reasonably straightforward week in Murphy’s as the mares got turned out in the morning and brought back in later in the day. The Minoru yard was home to some quarantine mares who had recently returned from sales and came over from France and were quarantined for two weeks. This was a good experience because I was introduced to different procedures that occur during this period and the different tests they need to pass before they can go into other yards.
Also, I spent four days on night watch, where we only foaled six foals as it was pretty cold and snowed on two nights. It was great to get some further foaling experience, as I didn't get any foals on my first round of night watch. Each foaling and aftercare was different, so it broadened my knowledge as we had to do something slightly different for each foaling.
Over the past month, we have had many different lectures with the usual topics for our modules, however, we have had some interesting guest lectures over this time. Tom Wilson from Racing2, which is a data analysis company to assist when purchasing thoroughbreds. This was interesting because he talked about all the different data points he would look at when buying or recommending horses. Another interesting lecture came from Alan Creighton, the head of biosecurity for the Irish Equine Center. In this lecture, he talked about different practices for keeping disease down on a farm and the ideal set-up of a farm and barns.
We are currently completing a group assignment on a negative perception within the thoroughbred industry and an individual assignment on how we can attract and retain a younger demographic within the industry.
This week I am in Kildare yard, where the mares and foals go once they have left the foaling unit. This will involve teasing the mares from six days after foaling and teaching the newborn foals to lead. I am looking forward to this week as I have limited experience handling newborn foals.