The week started off with a full muck out on Tuesday as it was a bank holiday on Monday. At Kildare our day-to-day jobs include teasing, vetting, feeding, mucking out, haying and blowing the yard. Ernan O’Donnell, from Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital, is the vet who takes care of Kildare and it is fascinating learning from him about the reproduction of the mare. This week we also had multiple chest scans to do on the foals. These can be challenging as the foals can misbehave but are essential checks to spot early signs of rhodococcus. The week ended with a lovely sunny day on Friday which the foals thoroughly enjoyed relaxing out in the paddocks.
We had a lecture this week from Joanne Hurley, Head of Equine at Gain Nutrition. Joanne went into thorough detail about the equine digestive system, the role of nutrients and the importance of a healthy balanced diet. This was key information for us all to learn as Joanne explained the strategies that we can implement day-to-day in order to keep the horses healthy.
We also had a lecture from Claire Hawkes this week who shared her immense knowledge on the muscular system of the thoroughbred. The whole class found this fascinating as she went into detail about angular limb deformities and developmental orthopaedic diseases. Personally, I feel the class learnt a lot from this lecture and it will be great to have a follow up lecture with Claire again next week this time learning about the respiratory system of the thoroughbred.
The week finished with the students attending the Curragh Racecourse on Sunday at which the Irish National Stud sponsored the first two races. Personally, this was my first time at the Curragh and it really is a fantastic setup with some incredible architecture and a lovely track.
This week I was also in Kildare yard, working with the mares and foals. We began every morning with treatments for the foals and checking their overall well-being before moving on to teasing the mares. Teasing mares allows us to estimate at what stage of her cycle she is in and based upon that our vets can then decide if she is ready to visit a stallion. We then assisted with vetting to do things like check the mares for pregnancies, see how already covered mares are developing and take blood samples for the laboratory.
On Tuesday we had chest scans for some of our foals. This is done to make sure the respiratory and digestive systems of the foal are in working order and growing as they should. It was really interesting to view the scans and learn how to identify the organs on an ultrasound screen and note what is normal to view and what is not. Our other duties for the week included teaching the foals how to walk while being led by a person with their mothers and how to handle a foal while giving it treatments. After a very interesting lecture on identifying lameness in the horse’s locomotive system with Claire Hawkes, it was interesting to be able to use the materials given to us to then sight any abnormalities in the mares and foals as they walked. To top the week off it was the legendary national hunt mare Quevega’s 19th birthday, so there were plenty of carrots to go around!
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Irish National Stud & Gardens,
Brallistown Little, Tully, Co. Kildare,
R51 KX25, Ireland