This week I have been based in Kildare Yard, which houses all the mares that foaled in the INS foaling unit this season. It is my 4th rotation in this yard, and dont tell anyone, but its my favourite!! There is alot of handling of the foals, who arrive from the foaling unit at 2 or 3 days old if they are fit and healthy. As the weather has gotten better in the last few weeks, the older foals born in January, February or March are living out or "camping in Australia" as the Irish call it here! They only come in to the stables if the mare is needed for teasing or vetting, so we may have to bring them down to the yard once or twice a week. The mare is always led from your left hand and the foal from your right hand. But it is a fair walk, so we have time to get them walking and leading properly, they dont get too feral!
They are so used to people handling them, that you can walk up to them in paddock and give them a cuddle or a pat and they wont move a muscle. The other day we lay down next to one of the foals while he was sleeping and rested our head on his tummy and he just kept on snoring! Moments like those make you realise how lucky you are to be working with horses!
Kildare Yard is in the main area of the stud where tourists come through on tours and just on their walks. So once again, the foremen are strict on the yard being as neat and tidy as possible. Working in this yard you come across people from all sorts of backgrounds. I have met plenty of Aussie's, who are nearly always asking after Vintage Crop (Melbourne Cup winner 1993). You can get throughbred people asking after which foals are by which stallions, or you can get the opposite; people asking what is the difference between a stallion and a mare! So obviously you need to have plenty of tact and be polite to everyone! Sometimes you feel like a movie star, when you walk around a corner and there are 60 people standing there from a tour, each one with a camera snapping away!! And you are trying to keep a hold of the foal and the mare!!! Its very challenging!
During our time in Kildare yard we are required to complete a week of "teasing duty". So we are in charge of deciding which mares are needed for teasing and vetting. We are given each mares teasing records, and based on those have to make up the list for each day. Every stud is different in every country around the world, so this was done differently here to what i was used to at Swettenham. But having been around the vetting during the breeding season gives you a fair idea of what is going on, its just a matter of learning the different symbols and pregnancy testing days. This week is my week on teasing, and its great learning the different ways of doing things.
Having lots of fun with the foals, although some of them are getting quite big!!
Hope all is well back in OZ!