Keith and Faith Taylor Family Trust Scholarship recipient Morgan Wilks gives an update after her first few weeks since arriving at the Irish National Stud.
We started off this course with the exciting opportunity to go for a tour around Ballydoyle and Coolmore Stud. We got to see an insight of how Aiden O’Brien trains his horses and shown around the incredible facilities that Ballydoyle have.
We were shown the swimming pool and the track where the horses work. The most interesting thing I found about the track was that it is made up of three layers of bark in different coarseness which gave the track a very nice soft springy feel and I can imagine would help minimise shin soreness and injuries.
We then we were given the opportunity to see a group of two-year-old colts and fillies do their work for the morning which was very interesting as they were worked in a big group of 20-30 horses. This is very different to how the horses are worked at home, and they work them on a straight up a hill where their speed is tracked through a speedometer that is on the track.
Aiden said that he will go and watch every horse work and will follow them in a vehicle so he can monitor each and every horse closely.
After we had seen the horses work, we were off to have a look at the rest of the farm which included the cryochamber, water walker and the new stable. The new stable houses Aiden’s best horses including Point Lonsdale, Luxembourg and Hispanic.
It was incredible to see so much talent in one barn, some of which may end up going off to be breeding stallions at some point in their career. The cryochamber was an amazing piece of equipment which is used everyday in the program to treat all injuries or ailments.
After Ballydoyle we headed off to Coolmore where we learnt about the history of the stud as well as past and present stallions. We were given the opportunity to see some of the stallions they have standing at Coolmore, my favourite being Wootton Bassett who is such a stunning and well-mannered horse.
We also got to see the first season sire Blackbeard who is only three-years-old and is by No Nay Never who we were also able to see. Blackbeard was a champion two-year-old winning two Group Ones, a Group Two and a Group Three as well as winning a Listed race.
He looks to be a lovely type and I for one am excited to see what he produces. We also got to see Ten Sovereigns, Churchill, Magna Grecia and Circus Maximus among others which was an incredible experience. I have worked with some of their babies and it was so amazing to be able to see the stallions and compare the horses I have worked with to their sires.
After that incredible experience I was eager to get stuck into the course as we hadn’t properly started. So come Monday I began work.
We are put onto a new yard every one to two weeks and every yard does a different thing. My first placement was at Murphy’s and Minoru which is where they keep the pregnant mares who are close to their due dates but aren’t close enough where they need to be in the foaling unit.
My first morning entailed me doing the muck out where we completely muck out every box from all the old straw and then bedded the boxes down again with fresh straw. Coming from sawdust boxes, this was definitely a learning curve for me and after a couple weeks off work, my muscles were definitely feeling it. However it was good to get in and do some work as I was very ready to.
After the first day we had a fairly easy week to ease into things and gain our bearings a bit.
We did have a mare colic mildly on Tuesday which we had to get the vet out for which was interesting as he did an ultrasound just to make sure everything was looking fine in her uterus and it wasn’t something sinister causing the colic. This was interesting because he showed us how he measures the uterus, this was to ensure that there is no thickening of the uterus which could indicate to placentitis.
She ended up being fine and the baby was fine.
Later in the week we had the vets come to do clitoral swabs to test for any infections that could then be passed on to the stallions once they are ready to be served again. They did these while the mares were still in the boxes and we just backed the mares up to the door and they did it through the door which was so different to how we would have done the back home and was very interesting to see.
Next week I am going on to night watch for the foaling which I am really looking forward to as it is something I am very interested in and will learn so much.