I want to work with foals, what is the best career choice for me?

You’ve seen the photos of Winx or Black Caviar with their handlers as foals and now you’re hooked on the idea of working in a position like that. A job where you get to work with foals all year round sounds like the career for you, but you aren’t sure where to start.

Don’t worry, there are multiple position that will fit what you’re looking for.

The first option is to become a broodmare groom. This is the better option if you haven’t been around mares and foals before as they take more specialized and detailed care than normal horses. In this role you will be tasked with the day-to-day care of mares and foals and looking for issues before they turn serious. While this is a very intensive role, it will also provide you with a good education for any other role you want to take in the industry.

Another aspect of the job that you will take part in is around five to six months after the first foals are born when they are weaned.

A few of the tasks you will be asked to handle include making sure mares and foals are fed and watered, making sure mares close to their due date are acting normal, and assisting with vet and farrier work. You may also be given a few daytime “foal watch” shifts during the foaling season to make sure no mares foal unattended. Other tasks during the breeding season could involve teaching the foals to be handled or taking mares and foals to the breeding shed.

Another aspect of the job that you will take part in is around five to six months after the first foals are born when they are weaned. This process includes separating the mares and foals as the foals become more independent and no longer need their dams. If you move over to taking care of the weanlings, many of the day-to-day tasks you were assigned when working with the foals and broodmares will be repeated here.

While activities such as teaching foals to wear a head collar and follow humans’ directions may ramp up at this stage, the weanlings will also spend a lot of time hanging out in the paddock. The main role you will play at this stage in the weanlings’ lives are just to make sure they are happy and healthy, noting if there are any problems with them that need to be rectified.

The lessons you’ll learn from being a broodmare or weanling groom will suit you well if you decide you want to become a foaling attendant.

A foaling attendant is often the first person to put a hand on a foal by assisting mares giving birth. Usually working 12 hour shifts at night, a foaling attendant’s main task is to make sure no mare is left unattended while foaling and that there are no issues during foaling. The majority of mares foal at night, so this is a job unto itself as it isn’t unusual for a few mares to foal within a few hours of each other.

Most foalings will go textbook with the mare doing everything right and minimal assistance needed but that is not always the case.

One of the important things you must know to be a successful foaling attendant is signs mares may show before they start foaling, such as pacing or getting hot. While in most cases a foaling attendant will have someone on call to help them foal a mare, another task that comes with the job is how to spot and correct a problem. Most foalings will go textbook with the mare doing everything right and minimal assistance needed but that is not always the case.

However even with its difficulties, being a foaling attendant has its perks. The first moment a mare sees her new foal is said to be the favourite moment of each foaling for many foaling attendants. Watching a foal go from newborn to walking and running in mere hours and growing into a successful racehorse is rewarding as well.

There is plenty of room for job advancement in both these positions. Many people in positions such as foaling unit manager or broodmare manager started out as a broodmare groom or foaling attendant and worked their way up to management positions.

Working with mares and foals is not an easy job with long hours and some stressful days but it can be the most rewarding job on a farm. Stressful days can turn into relaxing evenings watching foals run around at the end of your shift with the ultimate reward coming when they succeed on the track or as breeding stock after the work the you put into them as foals.