The calm before the storm

Lucy Procter, co-owner of The Glanvilles Stud, shares a diary of life on a Thoroughbred stud.
This month – sales foals and poo-picking after 30 horses.

Sending colts to the salesroom requires more work than at first glance – as does overwintering a stud filled with thirty horses, shares Lucy Procter.

Walking the sales foals for 20 or 30 minutes each day is an important step in getting them fit enough for long days of being shown to prospective purchasers. Image – The Glanvilles Stud

At the time of writing we still have several mares living out, albeit well rugged against any rain. The erection of our temporary stables is finished, so by the you’re reading this column these last mares will be coming in at night – and then the real slog of winter begins.

Winter with 30 horses

We’ll have over thirty horses onsite, which means 30 horses to put out into the all-weather turnouts, over 30 boxes to muck out and mares to be exercised on the walker. At the end of the day, the turnouts need poo- picking and preparing for the following day… and so the cycle begins again.

Shortly, this will be added to by newborn foals and a morning routine of breeding scans as we start to get mares ready to visit their chosen stallion.

We will all be flat out so, most importantly, we keep the staff well fuelled with bacon rolls, cake and biscuits at morning coffee.

Colts together

Our main focus this month is the GoffsUK Breeding Stock sale in Doncaster at the end of the month. This year we are sending ten foals and one pregnant mare; some of our own and some for clients. All the foals have been ‘in prep’ for the past month which involves daily walking in-hand for 20 or 30 minutes to make sure they are fit enough for long days of being shown to prospective purchasers when at the sales. During prep, the foals also have a daily groom and are turned out in a field together for a few hours. But beware – see the video above. Turning out three colts together is like touching a match to tinder!

By the sale, the foals will also have been checked by our equine physiotherapist in the hope that a few tweaks might help them walk with a longer, more athletic stride, the most important attribute of a potential racehorse.

The sales foals all have equine physiotherapy sessions to help them walk with the long, athletic stride of the successful racehorse.

A buyer’s dealbreakers

Along with the walk, there are several other factors a purchaser considers when they are trying to decide whether a particular foal might turn into a good racehorse. Often, before even arriving at the sale, purchasers will examine the foals ‘page’ in the sales catalogue. This will show the racing and breeding performance of several preceding generations of the family. Purchasers will also be influenced by the foal’s sire and whether or not a particular stallion is currently fashionable.

A horses catwalk

Buyers mark the foals they would like to view in a catalogue. Then they walk the sales stables complex asking for particular foals to be brought out and ‘shown’ – walked and trotted up and down showing strips to assess their athleticism. They then stand to be examined for their overall conformation. Good conformation doesn’t just look nice, it improves the chances of a foal maturing into a horse who will stand up to the demands of training to become a racehorse, one that we can excitedly follow the career of in the coming years. By this time next month, we’ll hopefully have at least a couple of newborn foals to report on – watch this space!

by Lucy Procter

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