Keith and Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship Recipient Hannah Airey gives us an update on her time at the Irish National Stud.
Eight weeks in and things are chipping away nicely on the Irish National Stud apart from someone’s lasting decision to not wash their hands in China. Luckily nothing on the stud has come to a grinding halt, and work continues as usual, with some precautions in place. Mind you, the closing of the local watering hole hit us all where it hurt.
Picking up from where I left off, I’ve not only done my first stint on night watch, but my second too. I can hardly say we were overrun with foals but enough to keep us awake, which is the important bit. In case anyone was wondering, the longest three hours out of all 24 are 3am until 6am. We were lucky enough that the mares eased us into it, gave us no troubles, and all walked away with happy, healthy bubs. The stud also reached foal Number 100 on Thursday night, courtesy of a wee chestnut maiden mare, who was as delighted to see the newcomer as we were, if a bit puffed.
Being in the stallion yard was a blast. I’d never considered it, never thought about being in the covering shed but I see now how it could attract so many people as a career goal. It’s an impressive, well-oiled machine, as far as working with horses goes. Beyond being in the shed itself, the rest of the day there chips away quite placidly and you find yourself smitten by the stallions and their personalities.
You cannot go past the stallion yard however without mention of the Irish National Stud’s legendary Invincible Spirit. 23 years young, and heading into his 18th breeding season, he bounds into the covering shed like some spritely young thing, blissfully unaware of the legacy he is leaving. He reaches all the way into our corner of the globe in the likes of I Am Invincible and Charm Spirit and is still going strong with another four sons taking to the covering sheds of Europe in 2020. And still, is very popular with the ladies.
Several weekends ago I swapped Kildare for Dublin, to stay with a lovely family I had met in New Zealand a couple of years ago. There was not an equine to be seen all weekend, but I was marched out to the end of the East Pier, and driven miles around the shoreline of Dublin through narrow streets and old-timey houses perched on sheer cliff face, owned by people with lots of money. In the end I had earned my homemade chicken and broccoli, and a Teddy’s ice-cream, which I was assured was true and proper Irish cuisine.
On a more educational note, one of the local vets at Troytown had the notion to let me follow her around on her rounds the one day. There was nothing extraordinary for her to deal with that day but some of the things we’ve dealt with at home, or simple procedural tasks, take on new meaning when they fall into new context; on someone else’s yard, or from the POV of the vet. Its not so simple as to treat the ailment, the real challenge doesn’t seem to lie in the horse but in a whole range of other factors like money, tradition, and timing.
I will leave you for now, there are assessments to type and hands to wash,
Until next month,