Preparing more than the yearlings

Yearling preparation consists of about eight weeks of getting one year old thoroughbred horses ready to be sold at auctions. I began working with Keith Harte Bloodstock for yearling preparation in the middle of August. I chose to work here as I had visited the stud and knew Eileen Harte as a mentor from Women in Racing.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have had the opportunity to work at a stud whilst studying, but i had never experienced a full yearling prep. I arrived the first week that most of the yearlings came- we all had so much ahead of ourselves!

The team were absolutely fantastic in helping me get to know the place and the process. A precise, effective routine is put in place for these yearlings to develop both physically and mentally- similar to a workout plan. It took me a little while to come to grips with this routine but with the helpful guidance of the team I managed to get there!

The plan changed throughout the weeks. It was altered depending on how horses were responding. One of the biggest features of Keith’s operation that struck me was the individual attention placed on each horse, as well as each of us members of the team. This was achieved in the horses through weekly individual assessments and daily performance and behaviour monitoring. Our performance was supported through regular casual meetings.

The physical impact this work would have on me was not something I had not fully anticipated! A week in, clocking up around 30km of walking each day, my weak work boots had already given up on me! An urgent request was placed back home to get my reliable heavy boots sent over. These have managed to survive the daily treks!

A sample of my pedometer records!

Both last and this week these horses have gone on sale at the Tattersalls yearling sales. I felt a sense of pride and relief as each of these loads of horses shipped off. Pride when I saw all of the little things that I contributed to- be it a great shiny coat, a transformed handling temperament or improved muscle definition. Relief because at those final stages I began to see each of them for their true delicacy. An injury at that late stage could prove fatal for their success at the sales.

My experience working over the yearling preparation of these horses has been a very positive one. I have learnt to work with confidence in a workplace where accuracy, timing and team work are essential components. The opportunity to see and contribute to the transformation of these animals has provided an incredible experience for me.