People who shine from within don’t need the spotlight.

People who shine from within don’t need the spotlight.

I cannot believe how time had slipped away from me since my last blog post! It feels like just the other day that I arrived in Mooi River to start the 2017 breeding season and now one hundred and twenty foaled mares later we are done and I am back at home.

So, let’s see … it’s been seventy days since my last blog post (whoopsie). The season ended on a high…we were busy until the very end, there was never a dull moment. Even on my last working day the vet decided to grace me with three caslicks to do! Not that I am complaining at all … the highlight of my season was being in charge of caslicks. This is the one thing I love about South African breeding seasons, you get the opportunity to do such procedures and treatments that you cannot do overseas. I feel like it’s a big advantage in emergencies and breeding season overall. I am just proud of myself for accomplishing something like this, having faith in myself and stepping up for a change!

I know I said it before but I really cannot believe how time just got away from me….it just shows you that time does fly when you are having fun! This season I was just worried about excelling at my job – travelling, and going out, making friends just had to take a back seat,  but God had other plans. In the end I made so many new friends, exceeded all my expectations, and got my confidence and independence back. I cannot begin to tell you the awesome memories that were made this season – the people that I met, ah, I am just so happy to have been apart of their journey. To hear students tell you that you are an inspiration and they want to be just like you made me feel so proud and work even harder! Everything else that happened in the past year brought me exactly where I needed to be. I would’ve hated to still be the person I was a year ago, I was stuck and more than happy to settle for less than I deserve because I was comfortable. Now I am heading overseas again, ready to start the biggest adventure so far! At the time, you question God on the direction your life is going, you question why some things happen to you but in the end He knows what the bigger picture looks like … I know my God is looking out for me, nobody can tell me different and He has an awesome plan for my life. The fact of the matter is that every book has a climax, and always has it’s happy ending (and a handsome prince too, but I haven’t gotten that far yet).

I was thinking on the long drive back home after the season, I was really sad to go but happy to leave. I feel like I accomplished everything that I needed to and achieved even more that I expected! Until the very end, I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning (who can say that after foaling one hundred and twenty mares, never mind surviving another breeding season) I was the first one outside greeting the new foals, packing the bakkie and sorting out the vet work equipment. I got my fire back and I have never felt better!

Since I have been home, I have just been enjoying the December holidays with my family and been working with my horse, just been relaxing and taking in every moment I have at home. The future is big and a little scary but most of all really exciting, my sister will also be leaving the nest in the new year and my brother is cooking up a storm in Cape Town. I didn’t think I would be saying this a few months ago, the year took a turn for the best and everything ended just fine! I couldn’t have done it without my amazing family, we all had our mountains to climb but we stood together and believed in each other. I really am blessed with four of the greatest friends anyone could ask for, I am just lucky that they are family too!

Before I say goodbye until the new year, I just wanted to thank all my readers for following my journey and thank you for the unconditional support. I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas and I want to wish you all an amazing New Year. It will be a year of more bucket list kinda adventures, more blog posts, more inspiration, a little more of everything good.

 

Here’s to the best team in the world – Summerhill Stud 2017 Breeding Season

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The sun will rise, and we will try again.

The sun will rise, and we will try again.

They say time flies when you are having fun, well, I think I can give that one a thumbs up! I am fifty-seven days into the 2017 breeding season, and we have literally two months of the year left! We only have about thirty something mares left to foal down, we are counting days with most of our mares for vet work. Things are slowly slowing down, but there is still tons to do which keeps us on our toes. I am not as nervous, and anxious as when I first arrived and I am not always second guessing my every move and my every thought. I will get the odd occasion that will throw me off balance a bit, but life isn’t perfect after all…I have just learned how to handle it better.

The days are going by in the blink of an eye….I am dressed and out of the house before six in the morning, I first welcome our new arrivals (if we have any) and then get everything ready for vet work. Our morning consists of collecting horses for vet work, teasing them, and filling in necessary paper work. Vet comes around 9:30 and probably leaves around 10:30/11:00 after that we would put all the horses back and wash the crush (my quiet moment of the day) and leave everything sparkly and smelling good for the next day. Our afternoon’s consists of checking the mares and doing treatments, catching up on some farrier work, sorting out foaling unit supplies and fitting all the preggie mares into stables for the evening. This is just a short run-through of a typical day…There is always a curve ball here and there since you never really know what is going to happen when you work with horses. That is why I love it I guess. There is none of that nine to five stuff, getting stuck in a daily routine, same old, same old mumbo jumbo. My mother would laugh at me right now, normally I am the most planned person and cannot handle when I haven’t prepared for anything, but in this industry you have got to take every day and every moment as it comes.

In other news, I cannot remember if I have updated you all on my future endeavor. I had planned on doing a season in America, but the application had not worked out due to my lack of experience. Somehow the whole situation did not get me down as I thought it would. My heart seemed more driven and more positive…so I sent my CV to a stud in Australia and before you know it I am applying for a four year visa. God definitely knows what He is doing! I only have about 58 days left here in Mooi River, with another season under my belt, my confidence packed in my bag again and even more passion…now I can continue follow my dreams abroad.

Before I go, I titled my post “The sun will rise, and we will try again.” because I am trying to remember now that each day is a new day to try again, a new day to get it right. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect right now. I am getting it right slowly, but surely. It also helps that I am surrounded by good people –  It feels so good to be surrounded by good people, people that are not only good on the outside but on the inside as well.

 

 

It’s okay if you fall down and loose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.

It’s okay if you fall down and loose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.

It has been about twenty-nine days since I started the season in Mooi River, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

I was almost at the brink of tears and panic when I read through the responsibilities of my new job. Just then I had realized that I had lost all confidence in myself, and in my career. I started thinking about everything that could go wrong, am I good enough, will I be enough? Then God does something quite amazing, my first night on duty I had delivered three beautiful, healthy foals. I made it through my first day of vet work…with no practice run of what would be in store for me. I am in charge and back to my old self with my lists and organisation, I am doing things that I never thought I would be able to do.

I have always been either with the foals or with the yearlings, this season would be the first time I am dealing with the mares 24/7. I was nervous because it’s more than just waiting for the mares to foal – its checking the dates; making sure they are stabled in time; making sure they have a healthy pregnancy all the way; vet work with the barrens and maidens mares; AND doing my own caslicks now; getting mares to the stallion barn on time; doing treatments as well as getting farrier work done. After all of this…can I tell you a secret? I AM LOVING IT! Even now, I cannot stop smiling as I am writing this! Uh, I love it!

Day after day, I have been slowly picking up the pieces, putting the puzzle back together…I am beginning to see the big picture again. I used to dwell on the past year, and wonder what good could come out of it…but then realize I would not be able to do over half of the things I can do now if I did not go through any of that. I do understand that everything does happen for a reason, and were you are today and what you have been through yesterday is all a part of the grand plan!

So good to be back!

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Top 10 Reasons to Work on a Thoroughbred Stud

Top 10 Reasons to Work on a Thoroughbred Stud

Top 10 BLOG Post Logo

To my friends and family I am the horse addicted girl who lives, breathes, and sleeps horses. I never grew up with them but ever since I can remember, horses were on my brain and in my heart. After graduating, I got into the Summerhill Stud School of Management Excellence and went on to win a Scholarship to the English National Stud in the UK. After all my studies, I had been given the most amazing opportunity to complete a breeding and sales season at the Sir Patrick’s Cambridge Stud in New Zealand.  I then decided to come back to home roots and do a season in South Africa at the beautiful Highlands Stud in Robertson, which ended up being an entire year.

Since my travelling soul and yearning to learn constantly tug at my heart, I will be packing my bags and heading to America for their next season.
Today, I wanted to share with the world the reason I cannot wait to get up in the morning before the birds in below freezing temperatures, the reason my heart skips a beat when I hear the sweet nicker of a horse greeting you as you walk in the yard. All the reasons I don’t call this my job but my hobby.
10. I GET TO WATCH THE SUNRISE, EVERY MORNING!
Some people have “watch the sunrise” on their bucket lists, as if it is a rare phenomenon. I count myself lucky that I have seen the beauty of the sun rise over a new day more times than I can count. That is not all though, we get to go through the storm and see the rainbow at the end. I have never experienced rain like I did in my New Zealand season, after you have done a season there you are definitely water proof. Rain and mud just became a part of life really; It felt odd when the sun eventually shone. New Zealand brought a bunch of firsts for me, namely foaling outside. It was a cold and wet experience but most of all, the most memorable. Nothing brings you closer than huddling together in the cold waiting for a mare to foal.

 

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ROUTINE
Horses always have something new to throw at you. This is definitely not a typical 9 to 5 job. This is a ‘wake up before the birds and go home when the job is done’ kind of job. I remember during the season in New Zealand, it was my night to be on call. We had just finished for the day and were on our way home when the night guard called myself and the team back to the paddocks because a mare was about to foal. We waited for her to foal, and while she was foaling, another mare decided to foal. We had three mares foal one after the other after work that day. We only went home somewhere past seven o’clock that evening.
8. ALWAYS LEARNING NEW SKILLS
This is the kind of job where you cannot learn everything in a classroom or lecture hall to prepare you for real life. Every day you learn something new, everyday you learn a new skill such as driving a tractor, or working a blood machine, operating machinery like walkers and so on. I also have to add that you will gain major driving skills with this job. I can now drive anything from a truck to a van, a four-wheeler to a tractor. Not only are your skills tested with different types of farm vehicles dating back to the early nineties but the weather surely helps you master your skills as well. You can only drive once you have navigated a vehicle through mud after a week of rain on a road fit only for one car.

 
7. WORKING WITH THE VET
I just love this side of the job…it definitely belongs in the Top 10. I am always like a kid at Christmas when the vet is coming to the farm. My favorite experience throughout my three years in the industry would be with a vet in my recent South African season. I got hands-on experience with small surgeries and assisted with multiple x-rays on yearlings and several minor injuries. I have never had the opportunity to get so hands on with certain injuries and be able to assist the vet on multiple occasions. This is one time where you can never stop learning, there is always a new way to treat something and a new injury that a horse can bring you. Over all my travels so far no farm handles anything the same way.
6. UNIFORMS
Call me a nerd, but nothing can make me stand up straighter and be more proud than coming back to South Africa wearing a National Stud jacket. Proving those people wrong who told me that I am too small, I am too weak, I will never make it. I am so proud of how far I have come and how much I have done already. When I put on that new uniform, I don’t only feel proud to have been able to work there but to wear their name and make them proud.
One more thing – You will promise yourself that it won’t happen to you, but you will become an instant cap collector, it’s undeniable.
5. PREPARING FUTURE CHAMPIONS

My love for the stud life started with foaling my first mare and that was it for me, I loved it so much. I didn’t think that I would love anything as much and then I did my first sales preparation in New Zealand and well, that just lit another fire. Taking these scruffy yearlings from their camps and teaching them to accept blankets and bits, going through their first bath and groom session….at the end of prep the yearlings cannot wait to be groomed and hand walked, and a little hose that seemed to be a terrible monster with water spraying powers is now their best friend. At the sales you see a sophisticated, well-groomed, beautifully put together yearling; a few months ago we could hardly catch him in a paddock. I cannot explain the way it makes me feel to witness such a transformation. It is a proud feeling.

 

4. THE FOALING SEASON
Every time I foal a mare it is even more magical than the first. This is my favorite time of the year, I have done four breeding seasons now, two in South Africa, one in England and one in New Zealand. Not one farm foals the same, not one farm has the same technique or after care, that is what makes it so exciting. On every new farm, it feels like you are starting from the very beginning when you enter a new season, but the result is always the same. No matter what time of night or morning it is, I always get excited to rub the water out of that little nose and watch it take its first breath…and witness the mothering instincts of a mare as she wraps her head around her new baby.

3. MEETING NEW PEOPLE
I cannot begin to tell you the amazing people I have met on my journey. I have met and had the opportunity to work with people from Ukraine, India, America, Ireland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. I think we had one of each nationality on the stud farm in New Zealand.
Spending a season with these people bring a friendship that only stud life can give you. You have a friendship that has conquered late nights and early mornings, staying up with sick foals, working as a team to get thirty stables done before breakfast time, walking long, long roads to take a mare back to her camp after a scan, feed run pep talks, and most of all living together with one bathroom definitely brings you a little closer. Good times and bad times, there is no closer family than a stud family.
2. TRAVEL
When I was at school, I remember dreaming of travelling the world. Getting on a big airplane and flying for hours, discovering new places…It seemed out of reach, it felt like it would always be just a crazy dream.
When I got accepted to the School of Management Excellence, I told my parents that I was going to get that scholarship to England and I was going to give it everything I had. I will never forget that night, when my name was called for the scholarship, my hands were sweating and my heart was pounding…my dream came true. After completing the scholarship in England I received an opportunity to go to New Zealand which lead to a life changing holiday in Australia and a year later I went back to New Zealand with my sister. What was once a wild dream, is now my life and my motto:

Work – Save – Travel – Repeat

1. SIMPLY, BECAUSE OF LOVE
The one and only reason but perhaps the most important, is I do this job because I love it. I hate calling it a job actually; I have told everyone that this is my hobby.
There is something about the feeling of being a part of something. The stud grooms, night watchmen, stable hands, and assistants look like such a small part of the industry…but I think we are just as important.
Some people forget all the work behind finally getting that racehorse to the track, never mind getting it to the yearling sales.
Waking up in the early hours of the morning to help a mare have her baby, making sure that foal is healthy and strong to grow up and become a naughty weanling and eventually start prepping a striking yearling to catch a prospective owner’s eye at the yearling sales. Feeling your heart skip a beat when that same foal that was figuring out what these four legs beneath him are used for is now being led into the parade ring after months of preparation, exercise, hand-walking, diet, blankets, and everything that comes with it.
This is what the Thoroughbred industry means to me…these are only a few of the many reasons I have dedicated my life to horses, I might not have grown up with horses but they have always been with me. I cannot imagine spending my life any other way.

 

By: ASHLEE HAMMOND

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. – Dr. Seuss

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. – Dr. Seuss

Hello again strangers,

It’s been quite a while, but I am back in action.

Let me begin by saying that my sister and I had the most amazing, mind-blowing, bucket list-kinda-stuff, out of this world, unbelievable time in New Zealand. The things we did, the stuff we saw, times that will be treasured forever. I still cannot believe that we dreamed of the day we would travel together but it always seemed like just a dream. Now that dream came true and my sister and I have traveled not one, but TWO countries together! All I really have to say is that we have an amazing God: we are crazy blessed! I know this is only the beginning, we have many adventures to come. Oh, thank you for everyone who liked our travel Instagram! #muchlove

I will be writing a separate blog post all about our time in New Zealand with pictures and all. I just wanted to let all my followers know that I am back, and fill you in on what has been happening since. Other than feeling like I have gone through a break-up (with travel). Don’t laugh, I heard it is a real thing…

Sehnsucht (n) Origin: German

A wistful longing and yearning in the heart for travels that have been and travels to come.

When you’re not travelling this can be an overwhelming feeling, or when you think about the travel you’ve done and you wish you could relive it all over again. This feeling is why you need to make the most of every moment! It’s why the more you travel, the harder it gets.

http://www.migratingmiss.com

Can you actually believe I have been back at work for two weeks already? So much is happening at the moment, we have started weaning the foals (taking them away from their mothers). I was quite excited about this since I have never been around for the weaning process. It has been so much simpler than what books explain, or what I imagined. I guess all farms do it differently, but I really like the way our farm does it. It’s so hand-on and there is so much patience and care the foals don’t even know their mothers are gone. It’s pretty cool! I try to be involved with as much as I can and help out wherever I can, even though I am technically on the yearling side. I am also assistant to the foaling side but apparently weaning is not apart of our job. Some people believe that if it is not in their job description then it’s not their “problem”. I cannot think that way, I believe every opportunity is a chance to learn even if it’s not my ‘job description’. This is the first farm I have been on where it has been like this. “Teamwork” is not a regular word here, it’s every man for himself really. I don’t really care about the whole, “this is my side, and that is your side” situation. If you need a hand, I will lend you one…if I see something that needs to be done, I am going to do it. That is how a stud farm works!

In between weaning, we have tons of sales preparation going on. Horses that need to go in the walker, horses that need to be groomed and hand walked daily. Then I have to look after the rest of the yearlings that haven’t made the cut for the major sales (but will go to other sales), in between dealing with farriers, vet visits (my favorite), and then my not so favorite-grumpy people, and people who don’t want to work.

I just cannot believe that it’s been three weeks since our big adventure.  Where did three weeks go? I like being excited for something, looking forward to something. The next thing is that my family (hopefully, the WHOLE family) will be coming down to Cape Town to visit me…and and and, wait for it, another exciting thing is that my sister will be staying with me for a couple of months. Talk about looking forward to something, the time cannot come quick enough! We can add some South African adventures to our list.

So this week I need to conquer some mountains anIMG_6176d make some decisions. So much going on in this head of mine, just too much to get through right now. I just wanted to let everyone know that I am back on African soil, back and blogging about life, horses, people, problems, everything really…you guys know me.

Thank you for listening…

Here’s to the stories to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Make them wonder how you’re still smiling.

Make them wonder how you’re still smiling.

Before I begin, I need to state something that has been holding up this post. My blog is about my story, my experiences, the way I felt and the way I see the world. I am not here to just write about sunshine and roses because that is what people want to hear! Life is not like that, life has it’s up’s and downs. I want to read back on these stories…I want to look back and say I made it, look who I am today! Most of all, I want you to read it and think, “If she can do it, so can I!”

So, the January sale is done and dusted. Months of preparing horses day and night making sure they are in tip top shape to be sold under the judgmental, careful, extremely excruciating process of picking a champion. It’s always funny to me, you spend hours and hours with these horses, knowing their good side and their bad side like the back of your hands…and to give them away to the highest bidder who thinks that they walk just right, their legs are straight enough or their heads are in proportion to their bodies. What about that horse that has slightly skew legs but has the most loving nature…he could be a champion too. That is the thing though, you never know. It’s all about taking the chance!

It’s a weird industry!

Well, let me get to sales week. I have no idea where to begin! Ready to go with new trainers and all, prepared for the hard work ahead. All thirty-six of our horses arrived at the Cape Town Convention Center mid-day on the 17th of January. I was so happy I got to drive in the truck with the horses, in the front! Getting in with my short legs was a whole story on it’s own!

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, my room was awesome, the shower was grand, and the bed was comfortable. Much better than what we stayed at when we did sales in New Zealand! I was not quite sure what to expect here, I was warned that  it was going to be tough and a lot of hard work (that never stopped me). I survived Karaka, I am sure a draft of thirty-six horses will be a breeze.

I was suffering with terrible hay fever the whole week, barely being able to breathe through my nose, being sworn to and embarrassed in front of the biggest people in the industry on top of it all. Sound like fun? People now tell me that it’s because “people” are under a lot of pressure, “they” are stressed, it’s a lot for “them” to handle. You know what, that is NOT an excuse! I REFUSE to accept that, under the most stressful situation I believe you can find enough humility to treat people with respect! Don’t you think we would then work harder and harder and try be better and better? How do these people’s brains work? Now I am the one who people will remember as the idiot that couldn’t do anything because that is how you portrayed me!

All I have got to add is, THAT is exactly what a life without God looks like! Unhappy, stressed out, tired, and a stone hard, ice cold heart.

Too scared to even sit down and have lunch, in fear of your name being shouted out with multiple curse words in front of an overseas buyer, I stood just waiting at the top of the yard…feet dead from the weight and blisters boiling in your tight shoes from swollen feet…wearing a smile behind the pain and boiling blood with images of packing your bag and leaving with a mic drop moment at the next tipping point (that would never happen).

Sales ended with a sort of anti-climax, no celebration, no thank you, nothing. We had sold all the horses, packed up and went back to our hotels at nearly 12pm on Sunday night. I don’t want fancy champagne, I don’t want a box of chocolates, I just want a thank you…a simple thank you for all the hard work and even a sorry for being so hard, but we got nothing.

I am trying to explain that feeling that I got, I simply cannot put it into words…being yelled at and well, you know – in Harry Potter what dementors do to wizards when they attack, they suck all the happiness out of the victim. I guess that is what it felt like, it felt like I was useless and there was no point in trying to prove him wrong because everyone close enough now believed it too. Through the tears streaming into my eyes, and broken voice, I still called lot numbers and greeted buyers with a firm hand shake and a big smile. I carried on. My light was fighting to shine through the biggest storm and strongest winds threatening to break the glass of my lantern and blow out my light.

So, that was the sales all wrapped up short and well, depressing – sorry about that. I am not going to sit here and candy coat an experience because it makes good reading. This industry is not easy especially when you are five foot something, with a small voice and an extremely big heart, just wanting to make a name for herself, make her parents proud, and live a dream people only imagine in their lifetimes. I am glad I had a “friend” there, for months she had made sure I didn’t have it easy, but in the time where we had shared the same pain we sort of had an understanding. We wouldn’t have made it without each other. Who know’s what it will be like back on the farm…I am just glad that in a dark place the most unlikely person found their light. Let’s hope it keeps burning.

Now only two weeks and a weekend and I will be setting off on a grand adventure with my little sister to New Zealand. Exhausted, and mentally finished, I simply really need to put the past behind me. I was trying to search for a soul gripping quote about letting the past go, and looking forward to the future. Well, you know what, there is really nothing more to be said. It’s that easy…just let go. There are more chapters in this book to read!

You will be too much for some people, those aren’t your people. Glennon Melton

 

What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does. – Hagrid

What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does. – Hagrid

I had written an “almost” whole post before I left for Christmas holidays and didn’t end up posting it. I did in fact post a little video with all (well, most) of the pictures I had taken during the season. If you follow me on facebook, you would have seen it. (Hint-Hint). Anyways, I have decided to scrap that old post and start afresh, seen as it is a new year. Happy New Year to all my followers, and the few that read my blog. I really do appreciate it, I still hope to inspire you through my journey…even if it is just one person. So, thank you for the support…this year will be my first off season and I am doing another season at the same stud farm! I am really excited, I know that this road is going to be an awesome journey and the destination is going to be worth it!

My Christmas break was just amazing, just what I needed after the season. I can’t thank God enough for working things out in my favor so I could spend Christmas with my family…most of all my sister’s 21st birthday. If God is for you, who could possibly be against you. Back in time for my New Years shift (unfortunately) wish I could have spent longer at home, but the positive side is, 28  days from now my sister and I will be jet-setting to New Zealand! Not so bad right? It still didn’t stop me from balling my eyes out at the airport! Idiot! I cant help it, I hate saying goodbye. Hate it. As my dear Mother would say, “Get over it, and get on with it!” In an extremely caring, loving way…of course! She has a way with words, I thought she was being tough in the beginning but the older I have gotten, I have realized that she was teaching me that at some point you have just got to buck up, it is the only way you can move forward! No point dwelling on the sad stuff, thank you Mom. I just love her!

Now, on my own again, settling in…getting ready for the year ahead! One whole year at the same stud, I couldn’t believe it at first but I am really excited now! I am excited to finally help with the weaning process, and prepare for more sales, assist with many more veterinary projects, and so on. It’s going to be exciting! I have a year to save for my plane ticket to America, that is my next destination! If Highlands sends me or I follow my dreams to Lanes End, we will see. Isn’t that the magic of a journey, you never know where undiscovered roads lead too.

I wanted to write about New Year’s Resolutions, my resolutions. Every year it’s almost the same-get fit, loose weight, exercise more, eat healthy, save money, be better. I still aim to do that, but a few more things to add to the list is to be okay on my own, live everyday to the fullest, be slow to anger and worry, be smart, learn learn learn. They all sound like old resolutions, everybody’s resolutions really. But these are mine, among many. The point I am trying to make is, there is always things we want to get better at or improve…resolutions? Call it what you want.

So this is it, my first post of the New Year, this year is going to be an awesome one…I can feel it! I want this year to be the year for my family. There are still obstacles that stand in my way, and have unfortunately followed me into the new year, people to be exact.  I WILL NOT let people control my happiness or my future anymore. That is God’s job! So, this year I am just going to take everything one step at a time…

STEP ONE: CTS Book 1 Yearling Sales – LET’S DO IT!