This summer, I’ve been working for a thoroughbred stud in Germany, preparing their yearlings for the auction sale at the start of September.
I viewed it as a job for the summer and a chance to gain more experience with youngsters, which are unpredictable and more highly strung than the horses I’m used to handling.
Although not strictly on a placement for vet school, I was able to observe and get involved with a lot of vet work too – primarily radiography and endoscopy, which both form an important part of the preparation and sales process.
The first stages of preparation involved bitting, introducing grooming, and simple obedience exercises in the stable. The yearlings were then hand-walked, starting from 10 minutes a day and gradually building up to 40-50 minutes just before the sale.
Being part of this preparation outlined the progression from yearlings having been turned away to those who are suitably handleable and ready to enter the racing stable for training. However, I enjoyed the sale itself far more. Having owners and agents inspecting our horses and, ultimately, taking them through the auction ring made seven long weeks of preparation worth it.
Three early mornings and long days culminated in the auction itself, for which yearlings and leaders alike were polished to perfection before parading for prospective buyers until their lot numbers were called.
While aware that I was working with valuable animals, it was still surreal when we sold one colt at the auction for more than my family’s house is worth – the racing industry really is another world.
The sale also presented opportunities for networking and, through talking with vets immersed in the thoroughbred industry, enabled me to make new contacts – something I will never underestimate the advantages of doing. My step-dad has often remarked that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and from previous experience I know that to be only too true.
It always surprises me how much I learn about people when I start a placement or adventure with the intention of learning more about animals, and my two months in Germany were no different.