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 mid-January each year. 


The practical aspects of the breeding industry are demonstrated as students rotate around the yards on a weekly basis, gaining knowledge and skills from spending time in the stallion yard, foaling unit, yearling division and stud office. Students will attend lectures given by the stud personnel and those involved in the bloodstock industry including vets, farriers, bloodstock agents, etc. 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 thoroughbred 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.

Students are expected to complete continuous assessments and both individual and group projects during the course and successful candidates receive the Irish National Stud certificate which is recognized 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, industry visits and tuition. Contact Anne Channon for further information

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:


An application form is available for download or can be obtained from the stud. Completed forms  should be submitted by October 4th 2019 and final selection takes place in November 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 professionals 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 and references from employers.

What are the characteristics of successful course graduates?

100% commitment, good work ethic and good horsemanship skills

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).

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.

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

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 €30 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 course 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: