I thought in my first letter i would tell everyone about the Irish National Stud, the students and how the course basically works. This year due to the economic crisis there are fewer students, down from the usual 27 to 17. There are 3 Australians, a New Zealander, French and Indian, 3 from America (mainly the Kentucky area), 3 English and 6 Irish students.The stud is spread out into many different yards, named after exceptional horses the stud bred, which all serve different purposes, such as the stallion barn, the foaling unit, pregnant mares, yearlings, barren mares etc. All have their own foreman and staff. The first week involves inductions into each of the yards. Students are assigned a different yard to work in each week, and are put to work straight away! On day one I can definately give one peice of advice, and that is to practise straw boxes, they take some getting used to and there are plenty of them as every horse on the stud is boxed overnight. Students are also put on foal watch either 3 or 4 nights a week throughout the season. Each weeknight there are lectures from industry leaders from all fields and projects are given out regularly. For my first week I am based in Strawhall, which houses all pregnant mares and does the foaling down. So far the INS staff are great, the accommodation is toasty warm and the food is brilliant. I am heading back to work now in the SNOW!!!