In the duration of my Master of Agricultural Sciences degree, I have learnt a lot in a wide variety of subject areas but the most rewarding and beneficial part of the degree was having the option to complete an internship. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to complete my placement at Living Legends, a retirement home for racehorses and registered charity. Starting off with 9 horses in 2006, there are now 18 horses (19 if you include a cheeky miniature horse) and it is still the only property like it in the country, perhaps even in the world.
I don’t know what my day on placement will hold, but I do know that after arriving at 8:00am, the hard but fun work begins. The only guarantees are horse poo (walking in it or cleaning it up), hay (down my top and in my hair) and spending hours caring for magnificent horses.
With Apache Cat, a champion sprinter with a gorgeous face
Throughout my time there I was able to observe veterinary care, watch over time as a long-term hoof issue gradually improved, and rub shoulders with some racing legends. I am talking about Melbourne Cup winners and Hong Kong champions. I really got a kick out of looking at a paddock containing only 2 horses and thinking, “Wow, that is $18 million right there”.
Although the work I do changed on a day-to-day basis, it all revolved around the beautiful horses. I could find myself cleaning paddocks (with nosy horses following behind checking out what we are doing), in the kitchen helping out with customers who come in for Devonshire tea, taking visitors on a tour, or in the office sewing holes in rugs.
Meet Brew - a Melbourne Cup winner (2000), receiving attention from the farrier
The most enjoyable work by far is working with the horses. To learn bits and pieces about their personalities is like being let in on a secret. Efficient is a horse many people remember from his Melbourne Cup win 10 years ago, but I never knew how cheeky he is. He would often enjoy scaring people and biting them if they try to pat him without offering carrots. Meanwhile, Might and Power will follow you around the entire circumference of his paddock if he thinks he has a chance of getting carrots from you.
Completing an internship has brought together many areas I’ve studied at university including welfare, behaviour, nutrition, stress physiology, and even genetics. It has given me so many new practical skills and I am excited to carry them with me into a future career, whether it be with horses or in a different field. Going on placement has been the highlight of my course, and I will forever treasure the time I spent learning from some true legends.