Getting the chance to look inside a world class stud farm is not something that happens all the time, but this is exactly what a group of qualified instructors – including four members of the F&I Association – did on a drizzly Irish day.
Coolmore is known worldwide for its stable of incredible top class thoroughbred stallions. Winners come from these outstanding champion bloodlines worldwide including the recent Irish and Epsom Derby winner Australia.
Coolmore also runs a top class breeding programme with excellent facilities and a wonderful environment for raising thoroughbreds.
We met outside the office at Coolmore and were greeted by Jason Walsh, a member of the highly professional and experienced team in charge of stallion nominations. Jason has been on the team at Coolmore for the past 15 years. He was the perfect knowledgeable tour guide.
The tour itself was extremely in-depth. We started by walking through the grounds past statues of previous greats such as Yeats and Sadler’s Wells. The realism in these sculptures is incredible, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the yard; the attention to detail is incredible. After stopping to pose with our bronze equine heroes, we moved into the stallion yard.
Here we saw Coolmore’s top class thoroughbred Stallions, this time the real thing! We were lucky enough to be shown some of them whilst they were walked from their stables. Holy Roman Emperor and Pour Moi were even more magnificent than they appear on television, but the real icing on the cake was seeing Galileo. Regarded by many as the best sire in the world, he has such a powerful walk that it immediately reminds you of how easily he covered the ground on the track. However, what is also noticeable is his terrific temperament, which is a real testament to how much care the handlers take of all the horses at Coolmore.
After this we moved through the breeding barns and were given a thorough walkthrough of all the different stages that the breeding process includes, as well as the challenges that it provides. It was interesting to hear this from someone with as much experience as Jason. He took us (in between the rain showers) into the holding area and the serving area. Each part of the process is carried out to a minute detail to ensure that the horses are in the best state they can be to aid a successful mating and keep both them and the handlers safe.
After a suitably relaxing lunch break in the famous McCarthy’s Hotel of Fethard, we then reconvened at the Fethard Equine hospital. The equine hospital was opened in 2007 and truly is an excellent top class facility and one of Ireland’s leading equine hospitals. Showing us the inner workings of the hospital was Tom O’Brien, one of the resident surgeons.
It is very interesting to have the time to take in the intricacies of an equine hospital. Usually when you visit one you are too busy focussing on the welfare of your animal to want to see areas like the lab. However, the group spent time in all the key sections of the hospital; the operating room complete with hoist, the stabling facilities, the lab and the washrooms. Tom pieced it all together to emphasise how much work goes into an operation like this.
All in all we had an enjoyable day that not even the questionable weather (real driving rain) could temper
Huge thanks to Coolmore and the Fethard Equine Hospital and all involved for making this wonderful tour possible and so informative and enjoyable.
Many thanks for organising our Stud Tour to the B.H.S. F&I Association and of course to Faith Ponsonby BHSI.
Report by Daniel Horgan.