Student Blog from Mikey Cooke (IRE) and Alice Wilkinson (NZ)


We are officially a month into our course and everyone has fully settled into life on the Irish National Stud! Every week we are all rotated to different yards throughout the stud and so far I have worked with maiden and barren mares which consisted of vetting and teasing them daily with hopes of them coming in to season so they can get an early cover in the breeding season, I have also worked in the stallion yard under Paul, Harry and Dylan which was a great experience seeing previously great racehorses in their next career at stud. Last week I worked in Strawhall and Kildare yard under yard manager Laura where we handled the newly born foals in the Kildare yard which consisted of making sure the foals are happy and healthy and we are then on to the next phase with the mares of the foals by making sure they are clean, healthy and ready for their next cover for the current breeding season.

Luckily all the mares and foals have been 100% healthy which makes our jobs a lot easier so we can turn them all out into their own paddocks so they can stretch their legs and graze the land!

Our lectures for the week were equine anatomy, equine business, equine breeding and farriery. The lectures over the course of the first month have been very enjoyable and enlightening as they have been giving us insight into all the aspects involved in the thoroughbred industry. Cathal Beale gave us our lecture for our module Equine business where he talked about the current state of the thoroughbred industry in Ireland, what the history of the Irish national stud is and how it got to where it is today and what the current goals are for the Irish national stud and where he would like to ideally see the stud in the future.

A personal highlight of mine has been working in stallions and looking after Invincible Spirit. Many years ago my father and grandfather were lucky enough to have purchased a breeding right to him when he began his career at stud and he has been a great servant to us over the last 20 years plus! He has given us some great days at the sales with highlights being 2 fillies selling for 600,000 guineas and a full sister selling for 440,000 guineas only a few years later. He has given us some great memories and great nights out and was nice to have it come full circle with me handling and looking after him.



This week I have been working in Maddenstown which is the barren mare yard run by Eimear and Michelle.

The yard has roughly 50 barren mares that all get teased every day. I found the teasing really interesting as we do it very differently back home in NZ. As we take the horses out each morning we walk them past the teasers window and stand them up next to his box. The teaser (Zac) from there indicates his interest in the mare depending on where she is in her cycle. If he responds well and is very interested in the mare, she will often stand still for him and even lean into him. If she is not close to ovulating Zac doesn’t show too much interest in her and she tries to walk away.

Each morning a teasing sheet is filled out for each mare, helping us keep track of their cycles and when they may be coming back into season. This procedure and paper work helps Michelle and Eimear decide which horses need to stay in for vet work.

Every day the vet arrives at approximately 9am and scans the mares that have been teasing well, or the mares that have already been bred and are needing follow up scans to ensure they have ovulated and are in foal.  If the mare is close to ovulation, then she is booked in to her prospective stallion to go for a breeding whenever the vet sees fit. Once she is bred, we will bring her in for a scan to make sure she has ovulated and has a good chance of being in foal.

I have really enjoyed seeing a different way of teasing and tracking the mares’ cycles. I have learnt so much this week and can’t wait to be back in this yard!



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

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