Breeding Course


The first Thoroughbred Breeding course was held in the Irish National Stud in 1971 and it remains the best-known equine training programme to this day. The aim of the course is to educate young people for a career in the thoroughbred industry, and many graduates have been prominent in stud farms throughout the world, racehorse training, bloodstock sales, insurance and the media. Unlike University based programmes, our training is mainly of a practical nature and is designed to provide students with a hands-on approach to every aspect of horse breeding. The course is full-time residential and starts in February each year. It involves yard work during the day and a lecture each evening, culminating in exams and prize giving in July.


The practical aspects of the breeding industry are demonstrated as students rotate around the yards on a weekly basis, spending time in the stallion barn, foaling unit and laboratory. In the evening, lectures are given by the stud staff and others involved in the bloodstock industry and cover a variety of topics from yard management to business administration.

The syllabus varies slightly from year to year, but generally covers all aspects of the science and art of horse breeding.

In the latter part of the course, visits are arranged to other stud farms, racing stables, sales companies, etc, and students are encouraged to interact with their personnel to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of each business area.

Written, oral and practical exams are held at the end of the course and successful candidates receive the Irish National Stud certificate which is recognised throughout the bloodstock world.



All students are accommodated in the student lodge on the farm with meals provided in our own canteen by professional staff.


Will include accommodation, meals, equipment and tuition. Students also receive weekly allowance. Contact Sally Carroll for further information scarroll@irishnationalstud.ie

English Language Proficiency:

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must include an IELTS result certificate (academic test) with their application. The required level for selection for the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Course is IELTS 5 which is described as follows:

‘Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express himself/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices’.

Click here for information on English proficiency.

Please e-mail for further details: scarroll@irishnationalstud.ie


An application form is available for download or can be obtained from the stud, with details and fees which may be payable. Completed forms  should be submitted by October 12th and final selection takes place in December for the following January / February.


  • “I learned something new every single day during my time on the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Course. Everything from foaling a mare to getting a mare pregnant - the whole process -which will stand to me in years to come when I build on my own breeding operation.”

    Jerry Horan, 2016

  • “The opportunities presented during my time on the Thoroughbred Breeding Course were second to none – the educational and learning aspect, trips and visits to places such as Ballylinch Stud, Jim Bolger’s Glebe House Stables and Coolmore, and lectures from industry leaders involved in different aspects of this great sport are presented to you on a daily occurrence. Friendships and contacts are made that will last a lifetime and it is easy to see why the course is held in the highest regard within the industry.”

    Tom Evetts, 2016

  • “Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Irish National Stud and learned a lot through practical work and during the lectures. The lectures were fantastic and relevant to the work we did each day in the yards.”

    Kate Curran, 2016

  • “The Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Course was a fantastic and very enjoyable experience. The course gave me the opportunity to meet some of the industry’s biggest leaders along with making new friends for life. I learned a lot from Irish National Stud staff, vets and guest lectures. It is a well-structured and respected course that has given me a platform to continue working in the thoroughbred industry.”

    Basil Brindley, 2016


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Student Blogs

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What is the Thoroughbred Breeding Course?

It is a practically based course designed to give students a good overview of the thoroughbred industry. Students gain experience in all aspects of the daily routine associated with a busy commercial stud farm. In addition, students gain theoretical knowledge with lectures given by senior stud personnel and leaders from within the industry. Students are required to complete assignments and exams throughout the course.

What are the benefits of completing the Thoroughbred Breeding Course?

The course is an introduction to a career in the thoroughbred industry worldwide.

What are the admission requirements for the Course?

Minimum Leaving Certificate or equivalent. Previous practical experience in the thoroughbred industry is desirable.

What is the age profile of selected students?

Students should be over 18 years; the age profile is generally 18-26 with some exceptions.

What are the selection criteria for students?

Students are selected by a panel based on education, previous experience, references from employers and character references.

What are the characteristics of successful course graduates?

100% commitment, good work ethic and good horsemanship skills

Are students required to work weekends?

Generally students work every second weekend. During the busy part of the season, students may be required to work every weekend.

What is a typical weekend off?

A typical weekend off is from 12 noon on Saturday until official starting time on Monday.

If a student is scheduled to work for the weekend, is the routine the same as a weekday?

All the routines associated with a busy stud farm must be carried out with the exception of mucking out on the Sunday.

How many hours a week are students required to work?

Students are required to work approx. 39 hours and if they are scheduled to work the weekend, the hours will increase depending on the workload in the stud.

What time is allowed for lunch breaks?

Official lunch break is from 1:00pm – 2.15pm.each day. Students are required to be back in the yards at 2.15pm sharp.

What does night duty entail?

Night duty commences at 6pm until 7am the following morning. Students are required to check all the foaling mares and assist at foaling, post natal care of mare and foal and if the need arises, assist with intensive care and fostering. Basically students carry out all tasks as requested by the foaling manager. Students generally complete 3-4 nights on duty at a time and are required to complete an assignment related to the foaling.

What is the typical daily routine for a student at the Irish National Stud?

Each student is expected to rise early enough to have a proper breakfast, sign the attendance sheet and arrive on time in their assigned yard. The yard manager gives out the tasks on the first day and each subsequent day. Mares are fed, checked and teasing commences. Some mares may be kept in for vet, farrier work or other reasons but all other mares and foals will be turned out in the paddocks subject to weather conditions. The daily tasks of mucking out and bedding down takes a considerable amount of time and energy. Students are readily involved in the care of and handling of all the mares and foals, and will assist the vet and farrier and help out in the breeding shed.

What is the visa requirement for a Non-E.U. selected student?

Non-EU applicants’ visa requirements vary from one country to another. The Irish National Stud applies for a student visa for each Non-EU National student selected. This visa is issued for the duration of the course subject to approval by The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Ireland).

Do students receive any wage during the course?

A weekly subsistence allowance is paid to each student.

Are students liable to any additional expenses for the duration of the course?

Students should have sufficient funds for the duration of the course to cover incidental expenses and any personal expenses that may occur.

Are students required to obtain insurance cover for the duration of the Course?

Students are insured on the Company Policy for occupational injury and any incident/accident that may occur during work. It is a requirement for all Non-EU Nationals selected to have full private medical insurance for the duration of their stay in Ireland and details of this policy must be presented at Immigration on arrival to Ireland. It is recommended that all students have private medical insurance.

Do students have the opportunity to visit other stud farms and associated facilities during the Course?

Visits are arranged subject to the work schedule and most visits take place in the latter part of the course.

Is the INS near any racecourses?

The Curragh Racecourse is approximately four miles from the INS. There are two other racecourses in County Kildare – Naas and Punchestown. For further information on racecourses in Ireland, check out  www.goracing.ie

What is the cost of living in Ireland?

It is relatively expensive, for example it costs €55 to visit a doctor. Restaurant prices vary but expect to pay €20 for an average three course meal. Department stores are competitively priced and some of the chain stores have good bargains. Public transport is reasonable.

Are students required to have their own transport while completing the Course?

Some students have cars but during working hours, students are transported by company vehicles; bicycles are also provided for students for internal transport on the farm.

What are the criteria for applicants that may not have English as their first language?

Applicants should have an IELTS minimum score of at least 5. For further information visit: www.ielts.org


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