Student blog from Kayla Bracken (USA) & Mikey Cooke (Ireland)


We are now less than 6 weeks away from graduating the INS and time is flying by. We have all made friends for life and I’m sure the final 6 weeks will be just as memorable as the first few months. This week I was working in Kildare yard under yard manager Laura Bennet, With the weather being good as of late it has made our jobs easier as many of the mares and foals are out full time and only coming in for veterinary checks and farrier trims. All the stock are looking well with the rise in temperature seeing all of them come into their summer coats looking healthy and well in themselves. We had a wide range of lectures this week our topics included equine nutrition, equine anatomy, and soil management. We started off our week with a visit from Goffs CEO Henry Beeby where he got all 28 of us to ask him 1 question each and he would then give us an in-depth answer to all questions asked. He covered topics such as his own job, tasks he face’s, obstacles he has overcome and what it is that motivates him to continue working. It was great to get an insight from a leading figure in the horse racing industry with information that we all benefited from.



This week I was back on night shift. As the season comes to a close there were only five horses left to foal. On the first night my fellow classmate and I had two foals. The first foal was relatively straight forward. At 9:25pm our night watch manager, Carol, alerted us to the foaling. I held the mare while she checked for presentation. Noting that both front legs and a head were progressing, the mare laid down and started contracting. Within minutes, the foal slipped out and we started what’s called stripping the nostrils. This clears out the fluid build-up in the foals nasal passage to help him/her to start breathing. The foal is simultaneously rubbed with a towel to help stimulate the body. At this point the umbilical cord was checked to see if it is still attached. Since it was attached we kept a close eye on it until the mare stood up and it broke. It was then sprayed with antiseptic solution to help fight infection. The foal was bright and alert which is always a good sign. We checked the sex of the baby and we had a healthy filly. The foal received an enema to clear out meconium, a hard waste substance that’s first excreted from the foal. The foaling from start to finish only took ten minutes, but it felt like we were there for 30 minutes. Within 1 hour the foal was up standing and nursing from her mom. As I was getting hay for the new mom, I found another mare breaking water and we started the process over again. The foals got vet checked in the morning and were all healthy. In a few days the mares and foals will be moved into Kildare Yard slowly transitioning into life with other foals. With only three mares left to foal, the foaling unit has been power washed and disinfected getting ready for a fresh start to next year.

As the course comes to a close we are able to reflect back on the 275 foals that were born in the foaling until this year. Knowing that the students were there to help at all the foalings, we can follow the foals progress to become racehorses and potentially be there one day to foal their babies. With the racehorse industry being so chaotic, sometimes it is nice to step back and enjoy the small circle moments that help bring these beautiful creatures into the world.



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

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