Our second yard at Kilduff has now been divided into two separate yards each with their own managers. As they both have similar routines, we are going to look at a mornings work on the top yard, managed by Katie and assisted by Rita, and an afternoons work on the bottom yard, managed by Jen.
A morning on the top yard with Katie and Rita:
Katie: Jen, Rita and I are in for seven to put horses on the walker for a twenty minute warm up before the work riders arrive at seven thirty. Plenty of things going on this morning, some gallopers up the woodchip, a few steady canterers on the sand and a couple of others head down for some physiotherapy in our deep stream! While these are out we feed the box rest horses and give them any drugs that are required. We have twenty seven horses turned out in numerous fields around the farm for their holidays so they also need to be checked, along with their water and fencing. I head off to do this and leave Rita to man the fort.
Rita : While Katie checks the holiday makers, I remain on the yard and load the next lot of horses onto the walker while first lot are in exercise. When they come back in there is a quick turnaround, the horses just worked are washed down and put on the walker to cool off while the horses warmed up and ready to head out for next lot are pulled off. Before Katie and I head for our morning break, and when second lot have returned, we give the horses in training their breakfast. Afterwards, all horses recovering from injury are put on the walker for their required time. Like any athlete, coming back from an injury takes time, and their work is to be built up gradually and carefully. In the rest of the time to follow, both Katie and I brush off all the horses, rug them up and deal with any that need to be hosed due to hot or swollen legs. A few of the horses in training are popped out in the field for a pick of grass and we will take a bucket load in for those stuck on box rest (wouldn’t like them to feel left out!)
Katie: Today is slightly different as we have a new horse arriving later. A stable needs to be prepared in the new block of six in the bottom yard. This is where all new arrivals go as it is tucked away at the back of the yard, detached from the other boxes and all the yard activity. It is, effectively, an isolation block. They remain there until we are satisfied they are not carrying any infections that could spread throughout the rest of theyard. Another thing to prepare is the arrival form. Whenever a new horse arrives on the yard its condition and general wellbeing is immediately assessedby us. We will log the condition of its coat, teeth, feet and body before also checking for any scarring or evidence of previous injuries. Generally all of this will take us to our lunch hour.
An afternoon on the bottom yard with Jen :
After we have taken our lunch break, I will make my way around all of the horses in my yard and check their legs. I take a diary with me and note any new cuts I find or any changes to existing ones before adding them to my cut list on the white board. Following this, I will return to these specific horses and treat each injury as necessary and bandage those in need of it. Then after some correspondence with the main yard at Arlary, I will organise the work board for the next day, allocating each horse with a suitable rider and drawing up a plan of their mornings work. Once the new horse has arrived I will move him into his assigned stable. He is on my yard and so it is my responsibility to check him over and ensure he is settled and comfortable for the night.
Our feeding routine at both Kilduff and Arlary is a little different to that of a lot of yards. At about four o’clock I will give all the horses in my yard their dinner before organising the feed trolleys and hay barrows for what we call, night feeds. This is where at around nine o’clock, a member of staff will give each horse their fourth feed of the day, and another portion of hay to last them into the night. We prefer to use this system as they are getting four smaller feeds over a longer period of time, rather than having their last and larger meal in the late afternoon and then having to stand throughout the majority of the night with nothing to eat. It also gives us another chance to check round all horses later on at night, and any signs of colic or discomfort will be noticed and dealt with at the time.
At the end of our day, when all are fed and tucked away for the night, the three of us will head out together and do a final check of all the horses turned out in the fields before securing all gates to the farm, and heading home for the night.