Hannah Discovers Arrowfield

Hannah Marks is in her second year on the Godolphin Flying Start programme, where she is completing her four week work placement with the Head Office at Arrowfield Stud. Godolphin Flying Start is an international two year management and leadership training programme that combines a dynamic range of lectures, visits, hands-on experience in Ireland, England, USA, Australia, and Dubai. Hannah describes her experience of discovering Arrowfield.

My experience at Arrowfield began with an introduction to some of the best stallions Australia has to offer. Arrowfield Stud held their annual stallions show just before the breeding season kicked off, and what a show it was. From champion sires to those just starting their careers, Arrowfield’s parade was a great introduction to what makes a top Australian sire. As an Irish landing for the first time in Australia, Arrowfield provided me with my initial experience of learning about the Australian ‘type’. Redoute’s Choice and his sons, Not A Single Doubt, Snitzel, and new sires Panzer Division and Scissor Kick show off the classic strength and toughness that is synonymous with the Australian breed. These are horses built for speed and stand up to the rigours of training, with plenty of bone and athletic ability. Outcross sires such as Manhattan Rain, Dundeel, Real Impact and Olympic Glory showed the influence that different stallion lines can have on the Australian markets.

I had the great opportunity to work at Arrowfield for my Godolphin Flying Start work rotation, where I helped out with all aspects of stud duty for three weeks. In my short amount of time the team welcomed me and helped me get stuck in to a variety of work. I assisted in the breeding shed, worked with yearlings, vet work and had the chance to work with top class foals. My favourite part was working in the foaling division alongside the great team. I got the chance to see amazing families, foals out of top class racemares, work hands on with future racehorses and potential future champions.

Working with mares and foals in Australia is still a bizarre concept to me. I will never get used to seeing a foal walk loose behind the mare coming in from a paddock, or leading mares off quad bikes. While it would never become practiced in Ireland, unfortunately, I will always think back to the days of driving on a quad bike in a paddock during feed runs or when running in horses when I have to walk to the back corner of a field on a wet day. Another different concept in Australia is foaling mares. When I was first shown the typical foaling unit, my initial thought was ‘so where is the barn?’ Mares here are foaled outdoors in small individual pens. They move into slightly bigger pens for a week and then usually get paired with other foals of similar age by the second week in small paddocks. Foals here seems to grow quicker. I would swear that a five day old foal looks like a month old at home. Maybe it is the climate, maybe it is the outdoor living, or the strong Aussie type that is so prominent, but these foals are tough and lively.

Working at Arrowfield has been a great experience and stands out as one of the best farms I have worked on, offering a broad yet hands on experience. The team are open, willing to teach and are always up for a laugh. Three weeks was a short amount of time to work across all divisions, stallions, mares and foals and yearlings, but I was able to get stuck in and learn some great new techniques. The classic Aussie foal wrangling will come back to Ireland with me, though I might keep the head collars on. I only wish I could have stayed for longer.

Fortunately, I have been lucky to join the Arrowfield team again, but this time in the Head Office based in Sydney for my four week Flying Start work placement. Having seen the work done on the farm, I will now get the opportunity to explore what is done in the office and understand different marketing, sales and branding methods.

Tune in for the next instalment on my experience with the Head Office.

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