Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship recipient Kyla Robb updates us on her travels:
Hello from England! The plane trip over here is a bit of a mission but I was lucky enough to get a whole row to myself and sleep for the first plane ride!
Leaving a particularly hot dry summer to come to an English winter wasn’t something I was looking forward to but it has been relatively mild (or so they say). To be fair (yes I’ve adopted this constantly used phrase) the first few days here were pretty clear which tricked me into a false sense of security before the rain began! Apparently it’s been the wettest February on record in years!
Upon arriving in England it was a rather dull trip to the stud. So many bare trees and boring roads. Thankfully as soon as we arrived at Shadwell that all changed. It really is an absolutely stunning property.
I was greeted at my hostel and shown to my room. I’m living with 8 other people who are all relatively new here too. There is a scholarship system with this farm so the students work here as part of a placement. They have a series of lectures to attend at the National Stud which I think this is such a great initiative and am thoroughly interested to learn more about this. After meeting a few faces in the kitchen over the weekend while I recovered it was off to the office for my induction.
Shadwell is a very unique enterprise and is comprised of almost 100 properties, I don’t even want to get into the number of employees, animals, vehicles etc. it’s mind blowing! Here in England they breed Arabian and Thoroughbred race horses. My first thought was will I be able to tell the difference?....turns out it isn’t as easy as you’d assume. They are treated exactly the same and foal down together etc. However the Arabs tend to stay at the Nunnery Stud (where I am based) as the ground suits them better and the Thoroughbreds leave once they are strong enough for bigger paddocks to another farm with much more grass.
After a thorough talk and good dose of health and safety it was off to meet the team, and what a team it is! The sheer quantity of staff is extremely impressive. We’re all in our Shadwell gear. Yes I got fully decked out and fit right in. It’s very shocking to see a mob of 20 or more people all in the same uniform walk across a yard, lead ropes in hand. We turn out the horses all together and bring them in as a team. This year the number is slightly reduced and they will be foaling around 65 and there are 33 dry mares. Which is a fairly average sized stud for the area.
The farm is broken down into ‘yards’. The Main Yard is where we meet at the start and end of each day. Where the foaling unit is, the mares and foals and all of the ‘heavy’ mares (ones that are close to foaling but not quite under CCTV). Yard 2 is where the rest of the pregnant Thoroughbred mares are, Yard 3 is the rest of the pregnant Arab mares, Yard 4 is for the ‘barren’ (dry) mares and Yard 5 is where the yearlings who live out full time are. Oh but we can’t forget about the foster mares! There are 5 quiet and sweet but extremely wide coloured cob mares which are kept just in case a foster is needed. They are such great mothers they literally will just look after any foal. They’re worth their weight in gold (which would be quite a bit!)
After turning out we are given our yard for the day. My favourite is probably yard 4. There’s plenty to do and the vet is scanning each day. It’s great to be able to chat with such a knowledgeable vet who is interested in all the different practices and compare notes. I’ve even been lucky enough to follow the main vet around the farm and chat about all the different practices they have in place. Speaking of vets, after leaving the office from my induction I stepped out of the vehicle and the first face I saw was a very familiar face of a vet who I worked very closely with back in New Zealand! It’s such a small world!!
Seen as I am barely 30 minutes from the birth place of racing it is a given that I spend some quality time in Newmarket. I was fortunate enough to spend an entire weekend exploring! First off it was up Warren Hill to see the horses working. Before we even got there I was in awe. Strings of 30 or so horses being ridden through the town all in matching tack and uniforms is beyond an impressive sight. This town is literally built around horses. You’re trying to get a peak behind the fences to figure out if it’s a stable or a house. There is even two sets of buttons at the traffic light crossings, of course one is for the riders on horse back! The first rider pushes the button which stops traffic pretty quickly, then the last rider will push the button again so the traffic can flow.
After seeing the horses work up the hill and getting plenty of friendly ‘Good Mornings’ from the riders it was off to see my tour guide's filly at the stables and then watch her work on grass gallops. I was even lucky enough to venture inside one of the top trainers stable here and see some pretty impressively bred horses!!!! Just mind blowing. Can’t believe I actually got that close (of course I didn’t touch) to that level of bloodstock. On Sunday we explored Palace House the museum with all the history and some amazing art work. I even got to have a go on an equicizer!
The days are getting longer and temperatures are warmer. Everyone back home was laughing at the start but it’s almost time for the tables to turn....with that said I think I can hear rain....best not get too excited just yet. I look forward to updating you all again soon.