Student Blog from Grace Hamilton (USA) & Cathal Mariga (Ireland)

As the apex of the busy season begins its descent, it was still a week filled with activity. On Monday, RTE Nationwide was out and about filming the happenings of the farm, including student interviews talking about the educational aspects of the program and the daily routine of life on the stud farm. Many of the students got involved in Sun Chariot, the stallion yard, and Kildare Yard showcasing the hands-on components of the course and it was exciting to be involved with such a high-profile film crew. The result of this filming will be broadcasted this summer, so even after the course is over, we all have something to look forward to from our time at the Irish National Stud.

This week featured a guest lecture from Dr. Barbara Murphy, the Head of Equine Science at UCD and the Founder of Equilume Ltd. She shared some valuable insights on the role light plays in not only bringing barren or maiden mares into season, but also preparing the pregnant mare to foal on time and adequately provide for her foal’s nutritional needs. However, we learned light is not only important for the reproduction of mares, but stallions as well can benefit from the use of light therapy to improve their condition and fertility. Dr. Claire Hawkes also shared her expertise with lectures on the equine skeletal system and the musculoskeletal system, while Lauren Eisemann returned to continue our series of foaling lectures. These were valuable insights for all of us as we continue diving into our education on the equine breeding industry.


This week I was based in Black Cherry. This was the first week that this yard was in use. It is as an overflow yard for the Rota vaccinated mares from the Kildare Yard. 21 mares arrived this week and for the first time this year spent their time outside day and night. I was working with Mikey Cooke under the supervision of Claire Nuzum and Dylan Turner. In the mornings we would bring in the mares that need to be teased and vetted. We would then check all the mares and foals out in the field and feed the foals in a creep area where the mares can’t access. The vet would arrive then and we would scan and flush mares getting them ready for cover or checking how their pregnancy is coming along. The mares would then go straight back out in the fields after the vet is done her work with them.  After breakfast we would shake up the boxes where the mares were to have them ready for the next day and clean the yard. We would then help out the stallion yard as they were busy with coverings and shows. In the evenings we would check all the stock out in the fields again making sure they were healthy and sound and feed the foals again.

Outside of the yard work, this week the inaugural tag rugby tournament started in Newbridge RFC. The students this year managed to assemble a team of 18 partially athletic tag rugby prodigies for the tournament. Our first match couldn’t have got off to a better start with tries from Luke Bleahen and Luke Kevin that Jacob Stockdale would be proud of. From here things went south fairly quickly with our Captain Ian Hyland and debut try scorer Luke Bleahen both getting Sin binned for 10 minutes. As the pressure mounted and legs got tired we eventually folded and lost by 5 points. We can only improve from this performance. We had the biggest vocal support on the sidelines at the tournament thanks to Tadhg McGuinness and Mikey Cooke acting as joint managers. We will be back this Thursday for the next match.



This week, I had the opportunity to work in two of the yards at the Irish National Stud. I started off the week on Monday assisting with RTE Nationwide’s filming, before heading to Kildare Yard on Tuesday to work with the Rota Vaccinated mares and foals. I had previously worked in this yard for two weeks and I was excited to return and see how the foals I had worked with had developed after my departure. It was rewarding to see how even in a short stint the foals had grown not only physically, but mentally through the handling they had received from the staff and students. Many of the older foals reached a major stage in their development this week as many of them were moved to Black Cherry Yard on Tuesday where they are now staying out in fields overnight. With these foals now being more mature and the Irish weather becoming milder, they are able to spend more time out in the fields growing and strengthening physically.

Once these foals had moved, the daily routine in Kildare carried on as normal. In the morning, myself and the other students in the yard would arrive and make sure that any of the foals that needed treatments or bum washes were attended to, and that the mares on the teasing list were teased. Once those tasks were completed, any mares and foals not needed for vetting were taken out to their assigned fields or paddocks. After turnout, the veterinarian would arrive and myself and the team would take the mares from their boxes to the stocks for vetting. Following the veterinary rounds for the day, we would tidy the yard before returning in the afternoon to bring in the mares and foals. Once inside, we would check the foals and feed them, and depending on the day there could also be veterinary and farrier work to be done in the afternoon.

On Friday, I departed Kildare and moved onto night rotation. Ian Hyland and I assisted with the deliveries of four foals on our first night, the most I have ever delivered in one shift. The last of these foals was flat on arrival had to be resuscitated. I had never assisted with resuscitation of a newborn foal, and watching our supervisor, Carol Murphy, deal with the emergency situation was one of my most valuable learning experiences on the course. The foal was moved outside of the box and laid down flat while the resuscitation pump was used to get the foal breathing. Following the quick actions taken, the foal came around quickly and adjusted to life normally after the rough start. Knowing how to react in emergency situations can be life saving for a foal, and I am glad to know moving forward how to respond if I am ever in a similar situation.

One of my highlights of the week outside of my time at the stud was getting to experience racing at two Irish racetracks. On Wednesday, I attended the rescheduled racing at Bellewstown Racecourse and got to further explore National Hunt racing at the lovely country track. On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to experience my first Group level racing in Ireland at Navan Racecourse with the G3 Salsabil Stakes won by Ezeliya. While that race was exciting to witness, it was seeing Kyprios win the Vintage Crop that was the highlight of the races that day. Having followed Kyprios’ career during my time in America, it was particularly special to see him winning in person as an international racing fan. Thank you to my fellow racing enthusiast who made the journeys possible.



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Irish National Stud & Gardens,
Brallistown Little, Tully, Co. Kildare,
R51 KX25, Ireland

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