Student Blog from Alice Jeffries (NZ) and Sean Berns (IRE)
This week I was working in Sun Chariot, which is the stud main foaling unit. The mares are checked every 15 minutes to ensure that each foaling mare is able to be moved into a foaling box prior to foaling. A day in Sun Chariot involves putting the mares out into paddocks we then shake up the boxes and put hay and feed in. Throughout the day, any foaling boxes that have been used will be stripped, power washed, disinfected, and then bedded down in preparation for the next foals to be born. During the morning, the vet will come and examine any of the mares that foaled in the last 12 hours. They will check the foal’s eye, gums, neck, ribs, navel and conformation as well as take blood for the foal’s IgG test. It is great to have the vets explain the procedure to us students. The IgG test is a test to check the immunoglobulin levels within the foal for its immunity. If a foal fails this test, it will be tube fed with more colostrum or an IV of plasma to help boost these IgG levels. It is important that a foal will gain sufficient immunoglobulins from the colostrum of the mare because this will give the foal a good foundation for its immune system.
During this week, we had many different lectures, which included equine genetics and a guest lecture from Jack Cantillon. Within the equine genetics lecture with Emmeline Hill from UCD, she talked about the basics of genes and DNA makeup and how they result in different animals being produced. She also talked about the practical application of equine genetics and how it can affect horses at different stages of their life. Then to finish off, she talked about linebreeding within pedigrees and genes and the problems that can arise. The lecture with Jack Cantillon was slightly different to the normal lecture as he gave us a quick overview of what he does, and then gave students an opportunity to ask him questions These questions were about anything and everything, and he gave us a great insight into why he started Syndicate Racing.
This week, I worked in Blandford and Strawhall. In Blandford, I got to work with the Living Legends and the mares and foals. My daily routine started with checking the mares and foals in the morning to make sure the foals were fine. When all were checked, we followed onto teasing some of the mares. With the teasing done, we put out the mares and foals, some of them had to stay in as they were for the vet, holding for the vet was interesting, as the vet was talking and explaining which mares were ready for covering, I was trying my best to listen and learn from the vet. We also had the farrier for some of the mares and foals. We had to present the foals to the farrier so he could judge if any needed attention to their feet. Holding the foal for the farrier was educational, it was a new experience for the foals. With all the mares and foals out, we tidied up the boxes and the yard, putting in the feed and hay for the evening. After lunch, we brought in all the mares and foals, we fed the legends and the ponies and after everything was checked and all the work was done, the day was finished.
As well as working with the mares and foals, I also got to help with the living legends, for me this was really exciting as I really love horse racing and getting the chance to feed some of the best national hunt horses Ireland was really cool. My favorite is Faugheen (The Machine). He was born in 2008 and won 11 grade one races and was trained by Willie Mullins. He won 2 times at the Cheltenham festival beating another legend in Hurricane Fly in the champion hurdle. I was very lucky to see both of these superstars race, and now to be working with them I find is amazing.
To end off the week, I was working in the foaling unit in Strawhall, where we had a foal born by Phoenix of Spain. For me I find it exciting that I could be part of bringing a new foal into the world, this filly could end up being a champion race horse or a champion broodmare and I cannot believe that I get to be part of it.
I had an enjoyable week, learning more about the care of the horses and trying to improve my skills each day.
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Irish National Stud & Gardens,
Brallistown Little, Tully, Co. Kildare,
R51 KX25, Ireland