Continuing our weekly look at thoroughbred studs in the region - and the people who make them tick.By Alan McLean
Her role might be likened to that of a carer at a child-care centre or a pre-kindergarten infant welfare centre.
Kelsey Dance is a stud hand at Eliza Park’s campus on Day’s Rd, between Nagambie and Murchison, and like a mothercraft nurse, her role involves the caring and nurturing of the weanlings, foals between about four and 12 months.
Equipped with an Advanced Diploma of Horse Management from Glenormiston College, a South West Institute of TAFE in south-western Victoria, and her own love of horses, Kelsey’s day begins with a check of about 50 youngsters on the riverside property.
Have any of them damaged themselves overnight? Any been damaged by a kick or a bite from an aggressive colleague? Are any not developing as they should? Anyone picked up an infection in a cut? As Kelsey summarises, ‘‘Has anyone got a lump or bump?’’
Then feeding proceeds, as the weanlings are worked away from mare’s milk for the ‘‘solid food’’ diet crucial to the development of any budding champion.
As Kelsey’s day unfolds, depending upon the needs of the babies, there may be treatments, medication to administer, bandages to apply or change.
The proportional growth of a juvenile horse is a vital step on the journey to the racetrack, bearing in mind that eventually about 600
The rearing process is the objective of the Nagambie campus, with the young foals often headed to Eliza Park’s Smithfield property nearby. There the polish is applied ahead of the annual yearling sales which may see the horses sold to buyers from around Victoria, interstate and potentially overseas.
‘‘We have about 50 here at present,’’ Kelsey said this week.
‘‘Some belong to Eliza Park and some we are rearing on behalf of private owners, who will determine whether to race them privately or to try to turn a profit via various yearling sales.
‘‘We work with them so that they can be caught, have a halter applied and generally behave ahead of them going to a horse-breaker who will introduce them to the bridle and the saddle.
‘‘In these times of instant media, we are involved in video and filming at every stage. Every owner wants to see his or her baby at every point of its development, so many of them become stars of the digital age before the age of one.’’
Eliza Park’s Australian operation assumed new ownership in June when the Sun International Group took over. In Victoria, the headquarters is at Kerrie near Romsey, but tucked away on a property with an 8
Kelsey has been at Nagambie for just on a year. She and three colleagues are fully occupied in the care of not VIPs, but her VIHs. Asked about her spare time, Kelsey smiles.
‘‘I ride my own horse Penny if an opportunity arises.’’
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