Student Blog from Kayla Bracken (USA) & Tadhg McGuinness (Ireland)

“You don’t need luck when you are breeding for Lucky Vega.” As we got our first assignment of the course, we focused on showcasing the stars of the stallion roster. As we swapped places with the nominations team, the students were placed in groups learning about the stallions’ pedigree, race record, and conformation. We looked into the stallion’s progeny and the sales statistics. We also focused on unique reasons why someone would choose to breed to the stallion. After feedback from the nominations department, we now have a better understanding of the different stallions at the INS. Special thanks to Paul and Harry for parading the stallions.

The topic of this week’s lectures was foaling. We started out with what to expect when the foaling is straight forward and eventually throughout the week, we started discussed foaling dystocia’s. Lauren, INS night watch staff, came in to discuss with us the steps of foaling down specifically at the INS. Throughout the course we will all take part in night watch and help foal mares.

In addition to working with the horses, we also had a very informative induction with Martin Leahy, the stud’s master farrier. He taught us how to hold a mare and foal in the safest way possible for the farrier. Stressing that the most important part of holding for the farrier is to be on the same side so that if trouble arises everyone can be kept safe. It was a valuable lesson that will benefit us in our rotations throughout the yards.


This week I was in Maddenstown yard. The main focus of this yard is to manage the barren and maiden mares. Each morning, we take turns standing the mares next to the teaser trying to determine which mares are coming into season. The mares are tracked on a spreadsheet with (-) for not in season and (+) for in season. With teasing them every day we can track their cycles. When they are showing to the teaser, they get vetted to see follicular size and to make sure that they are cycling correctly. This is to ensure that we are covering them at the optimal time to have a successful pregnancy. After they are teased/vetted they spend the day outside while the students fluff up their bedding and get their boxes ready for the evening.

This week also consisted of adding the finishing touches to the sales yearlings. The Irish National Stud will be consigning 12 yearlings and 5 mares to this year’s Goffs February sale. Each day the yearlings were put on the walker for approximately 30 minutes and were then turned out into the paddocks for a few hours. Around lunchtime they were brought in and paraded around the yard to practice walking and standing for the sales. On Thursday, Irish National Stud CEO, Cathal Beale came to do his final assessments on the horses before they go to the sales on Monday.


This week at the Blandford yard, I had the opportunity to work with Leona and take care of two mares and their foals, the teaser pony Joseph, and a yearling on box rest. I come from a racing background, so I have never handled mares and foals so it was a new experience for me, but I learned quickly letting them in and out of the paddocks daily. I also learned what daily checks to be doing on mares and foals. One of the mares was sucking in air. So, she had to be stitched up by the vet to prevent her getting bacteria in her uterus.

One of my main tasks was power washing all the stables in the Blanford yard. After power washing, disinfectant was applied. It’s important to keep the stables spotless to prevent the spread of infection. I also had the tasks of feeding and shaking up the horse’s bed so it’s as comfy as possible.

I also spent time in the mill yard, where I had the honour of looking after some true legends of the racing world. Hurricane Fly, Faugheen, Beef or Salmon, and Hardy Eustace have an impressive combined total of 50 grade one wins. It was truly amazing to be in the presence of these magnificent horses, as I have watched them race and admired them for years.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to one of the legends, Hardy Eustace. He fell ill and, at 27 years old, had to be laid to rest. Hardy Eustace was not only an incredible racehorse but also a beloved character. It was a privilege to work alongside him and all the legends for the week. He will be greatly missed, but he couldn’t have asked for a better retirement. I want to give credit to all the staff at the stud, especially Leona, who took care of these incredible horses.



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

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