It wouldn’t be a horse farm if I didn’t mention the foals! As the season started to wind down with all the maidens in foal, I packed up my things and moved into a 20-foal barn. All the foals were less than a month old and although they were very cute, they put me off having children for a while!
My first few days were a little bit challenging. I had never hand walked a foal and mare together before and it is a lot harder than it looks … especially if the mare or foal decides to not cooperate.
The other challenge I had was picking feet. A simple task for a mare wasn’t an easy task for a less than a month-old foal.
Those first few days taught me to think outside the box in how to achieve my objective and to revise the definition of patience. As the days turned into weeks, my highlight was watching the foals grow both physically and personality wise. I was quite lucky in that seven of the foals were ones I had personally foaled, so being able to see them every day and watch them grow was very rewarding.
Of the 20 foals in my barn, I definitely had a few favourites!
Affectionately known as “Dobby’, the filly by Candy Ride had been born a few weeks premature, and was tiny, but that never stops her. She loves zooming around the place and is the most curious of all the foals.
“Baby B” is an Honor Code filly who I had foaled on April 1st and she was sassy as soon as she was foaled. She didn’t like people in the beginning, but as she got older, she took after her mother and became the sweetest filly in the barn.
My favourite colt is a Quality Road colt called “A.P”. He was the most memorable foaling I had for the simple reason that he was the biggest foaling on the farm for the season. He was 175lb (80kg) and had a 34lb (15kg) placenta. He’s a big foal, but he’s the definition of a gentle giant!
Unfortunately, stud farms can’t always be rainbows and unicorns as I learnt when dealing with sickness and injuries. Whether it was a cut, swelling, fever or trauma injury, I learnt how serious and quickly things can become worse when dealing with a foal and why it’s crucial to get on top of minor things quickly.
In the time with the foals I used the advice I was given from John Kelly during my placement at Newhaven Park, “foals are like babies: when they happy they are well, when they’re not happy they are sick.” How true his advice was!
During my time with the foals I was lucky enough to assist and watch various ultrasounds and procedures, learn more about foal confirmation and further concrete my mare reproductive knowledge.
After finishing with the babies, I again packed my bags and moved over to arguably the most important part of a stud farm’s income, the yearlings.
For me, I get the best of both worlds, working on a stud farm whilst preparing horses for everything that will happen at a racetrack. I have a colt by Honor Code and two fillies sired by Maclean’s Music and Into Mischief that I look after and educate every day.
The most interesting part of my first few weeks with the yearlings is the difference between American and Australian yearlings.
American yearlings have been handled since Day 1, so small tasks like walking properly and picking feet aren’t a new thing like they are for Australian yearlings.
As I settle into my new routine, I am looking forward to the next few months. We have officially begun sales preparation for the beginning of a three month back to back sales period, and with any luck, if I have some free time, I’ll pop back and visit the foals for a few cuddles!