The Irish National Stud is a farm that specialises in breeding racehorses. Mares (mothers) come here to give birth to their foals and most are born between February and May. They will then spend most of their time in fields until they become yearlings (one-year-olds). When the foals are old enough, they will be weaned away from their mothers and put into paddocks with other youngsters of similar ages. When they they reach their first brithday, they will begin a fitness program which will prepare them for life as a racehorse.
The mares will also visit the resident stallions at the farm and will quickly start carrying another baby around which takes eleven months to grow. These mares require minding throughout the year and have to be checked by vets and farriers regularly. They will also need lots of food and vitamins and regular haylage. During the winter they will be kept inside at night in straw-bedded stables.
There are lots of routines at the stud that change throughout the year, so you’ll never see the same activities twice. Come in Springtime and you can be sure to catch sight of some newborn foals. In summer the foals are bigger and will be out in their paddocks, lazing around in the sunshine, their mothers busily eating the grass.
The stud is also lucky to have two beautiful gardens. The Japanese Gardens are over one hundred years old and have a special path to explore which leads you over stepping stones through a stream (mind your toes stay dry!) and to a stunning red bridge. St Fiachra’s Garden is a natural garden and it is there that you will see lots of wildlife.
Bring your cameras or sketching pads – it will be a day to remember!