Each week you are placed in different yards, the last couple of weeks I've been at Maddenstown. Commonly known as ‘Mad Town’, this is where all the dry mares are overseen by Tom (the foreman stationed there) who manages the many mares who get teased and put through the crush for the vet to check them.
This has been one of my favourite places to work. Tom is a great guy to work with, as he has a sense of humour, allowing for some quality banter and laughs to be tossed around. He is also great at teaching people, coming across approachable and good at passing on the knowledge he has.
The season has well and truly kicked off here at the stud. We have had 50 foals hit the ground so far and we are expected to foal over 250 here at the stud. As I sit here in Sun Chariot on my second set of nights for foal watch, the night is just beginning, with plenty of mares ready to start firing out the next champions to come from this great nursery.
A night of foal watch goes for 12 hours and there is plenty to be done such as checking the mares every 15 minutes and setting up the foaling boxes for the mares to foal in.
We had our first assignment last month and it was a really enjoyable one where we had the opportunity to choose between pinhooking a weanling or buying a broodmare for our broodmare band (then plan a mating if we purchased a broodmare).
This was done a lot different this year. We were unable to attend the Goffs February sale this year due to Covid 19 so it was all done online. Personally I took a lot out of this, having to do the research on all the pedigrees and going through the videos and photos that were attached with the lots until you found a horse that you thought could make a return on your investment.
Lectures have been in full swing in the evenings and again it's been a lot different to other years with most of them being done online using zoom. We have some great people talk to us about their jobs and provide a bit of insight into how they began their individual journey within our industry.
My favourite lecture so far was when Kevin Blake shared his story. He was such a down to earth guy. He talked to us about his roles with the races, his own little breeding operation- where he has a handful mares that he breeds from. The part I enjoyed the most was learning about the roles and responsibilities of being Joseph O’Brien’s racing manager. He gave us an in-depth insight into what his role is there.
We have had a lot of lectures with vets such as Vincent O'Connor, Kevin Corley, Ernan O’Donnell, Claire Hawkes and Emmeline Hill. They have been really good lectures, I’ve been learning plenty on stallion reproduction and getting a really good understanding on how a mare cycles during the season leading up to cover and what happens after a mare is cover.
Other guest lectures have been Joey Cullen of Goffs, Lorraine Fradi from Red Mills feed company as well as lectures from the full time staff of the Irish National Stud.
A hot topic that has recently happened is the story of one of the premier jump trainers in Ireland Gordon Elliott. It's been a well talked about conversation in the group here at the stud with everyone having their own opinion about it.
It's a really disappointing incident to happen with Cheltenham just around the corner. The latest news, as of today, shows he has been banned to race any horses in England as the investigation continues.
Life here in Kildare is still so different to home. We are still in lock down so we haven't been able to get out and go exploring yet. It's hard seeing all my mates send snapchats and instagram messages of them enjoying the warm weather at home and getting to all the big racing events that are occurring at the moment. The one thing a lot of us want to do here is get to the pub for a nice cold pint of Guinness. Personally, I don't know when we're going to be able to do that.
On the bright side, with lockdown still in action here and the students unable to go too far, it's given everyone a really good chance to get to know one another really well.
The weather is starting to improve over here in Kildare; the temperature is starting to warm up and we are seeing a lot more blue sky.
All and all I'm really enjoying my time over here learning about different topics in the equine game and working all over the farm in the different yards. I've made some really good connections with some great people from all over the world.
Until next month!