Hannah Airey and Laura McNab are currently in Ireland at the Irish National Stud on the Keith and Faith Taylor Equine Scholarship. They fill us in on how the Irish National Stud is dealing with the Covid-19 situation and how management have taken practical measures to ensure the farm can operate in a safe way while still providing a top level of care to horses on site.
Here at the stud, all tourism has stopped completely. We have no members of the public entering the premises which makes the stud seem rather like a ghost town (especially since we were used to trying to dodge tourists as we bring horses in and out of paddocks!).
In terms of mares arriving for foaling or for covers, the drivers and owners have to remain in their vehicle the entire time, and we unload/load the mares for them. All paperwork (passports etc) has to be emailed to the office before they get to us. The vets are still coming as usual (obviously they are essential to the day to day running of the stud) but we have very strict hygiene measures in place. When we take mares to outside stallions for covers, the protocol is the same, masks/gloves on all handlers and we must remain in the vehicle at all time.
All the pubs/restaurants in surrounding Kildare are shut so we have been limited to staying on the stud full time unless we need to go to the supermarket.
Our current challenge is how to continue with lectures in this time. Obviously we are limiting the number of people who are allowed on stud, and so lectures have currently stopped until we manage to find a solution.
But we are all staying busy with assignments! And we have organised an in house 5-A-Side Football tournament to keep us all occupied in the evenings. Everyone is staying as positive as we can, and we are working as hard as we can to keep everything running to some form of normality
Obviously there is a lot of hand washing and sanitising going on, and social distancing and that type of whatnot.
Tours have been halted, no one is allowed onto the stud unless for stud type duties (vets, staff, covers etc). People with horses for cover have to wait in their car, until their mare is put back into their float/truck and then they must drive on.
No lectures, and no outside visits either of course so it will be nice when the educational factors are underway again, because it feels like everything is on pause.
I imagine it’s a logistical nightmare and pretty fiscally damning for those in charge of that stuff here.