Top 10 Reasons to Work on a Thoroughbred Stud

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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

Grow through what you go through.

I have not posted anything in quite a while, so I thought I would just sit down today and write a little update on everything.

Let’s get updating. If I thought previous months were crazy, I should think again. I had been looking forward to May for ages since my family came down for a visit all the way from Limpopo and my brother came from Natal, it was the first time in a long time we were all together. They had planned a visit for a while so that my sister could come down and live with me.  It was an awesome visit, and I loved being with my whole family again…we ate, we fished, we laughed and we ate some more. The older you get the more you appreciate the time that you have with family. I definitely savored every single moment. I think the goodbye was not as hard this time because my sister was staying behind. She has been with me now for about three weeks…time has just gone so quick while she has been here; I have loved every single minute having her with me. The days seem shorter and my smile bigger. She has brought back a side of me I had thought was lost…you do become the people that you spend most of your time with. That is the thing about stud farms; you see the same faces every day. There are no clients that come in on a daily basis. It’s just you and the same colleagues every day.  It is so hard not to fall into that trap, I found I was more negative and complaining was coming too easy. I decided to remove myself from all of that. I just need to thank my sister though…she has not been corrupted by the world – She is still my pure little sister and holds the innocence and safety of home within her beautiful heart. I thank God every day for blessing me with a friend within a sister and for bringing this opportunity for us to live together…I have been grounded by my family just by chatting to them but now I have a little piece of my family with me. I needed her more this week than I have ever needed her before. Sorry but this calls for a hashtag…

#BLESSED

In between family visits, sister adventures, new adventures…life and work still goes on. I have already sent another lot of yearlings to the sales and have two lots being prepared at the moment. It is much easier now with the yearlings since they are much older (almost two years old now). They handle everything like champs, just walk straight into the walker, and they take blankets like a breeze. The horses (and I) are taking to prep much easier now. I know the routines, the horses, the schedules, everything….I am a yearling prep machine.

All the while we are dealing with yearling preparation and all tIMG_0510heir treatments and issues…we are almost finished with weaning all the foals. The last group will be coming in next week and then all the weanlings will be my department as well (that is probably one hundred weanlings).

All in a days work right. People always wonder what life is like on a farm, well, I am here to tell you. There is never nothing to do. There will always be a pole that needs fixing, a horse that needs tending, they all need to eat, and boy, do they eat! That is what I like about this job…every day is a new one…routine? What is that? Horses will always have something new to throw at you, a new lesson to learn every day.

Before we know it the breeding season will be upon us. At least this wont be my first rodeo. I don’t have to get use to a new routine on a new stud and everything. The only difference this year is I will or might be foaling on my own! Scared? YES! Excited? OH YES! This will be the biggest step in my career.

I still cannot believe I have been on this stud for almost a year. I thought I would feel like I wanted to stay, I thought I would have found my ‘permanent’ And then God does something to put me straight, as if to say, “Excuse me, why are you letting go of all your dreams…this is just a chapter in your story!” I have a great God. I am only 23 now. I still have a lot of the world to see and I WILL lead a horse in the ring at Gold Coast before I even think of staying in one place. Taking into account that there is still six months of the year left, there is still going to be a lot more to learn. This year is just going to fly by before you know it. I think I am more excited now more than ever to leave. I have gained experience in so many fields I never thought I would have the opportunity too, I gained confidence in certain fields and lost a bit in others. I am glad I stayed for more than a season, I have more experience under my belt and a beautiful addition to my CV.

Before I close…My mom made me realize that I have been so focused on the negative people and all the things have come against me that I have realized that I have forgotten why I love this job so much. I was so focused on the negative, I forgot about the positive. I was so focused on things that needed to be done, I was so focused on what could go wrong…I was missing out on all the moments that things went right. I heard once that life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.  I decided to let stress, worry, and negative people control my outcomes. Not anymore. I have decided to go back to that little girl who just needed the warm breath of a gentle giant on her face to make her day, and the graze of a prickly muzzle to make her smile. You know what, you do only live once and if you do it right…once is enough! I am back to that girl who doesn’t have a job, she has a passion.

“…life is 10% what you make it

and 90% how you take it.”

Last week was not the greatest of weeks in the history of great weeks, not work wise but life wise. My Dad always told me that, “…once you have had the worst of the worst days out of the way, only good days can come after that…”

So, excited for the week ahead, I get to see my father and brother on Friday and I have an off weekend coming up! I have another week with the best roomie anyone could ask for, a job everyone only dreams of, a future to work for and be excited about, a loving family by my side. What more can I ask for?

I think you are all caught up now…that is just about everything in a nutshell. Thank you for readying.

Over and Out.

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!