2017 TTC BHA Graduate Development Programme Placement 2 – Georgia Misson

3rd October 2017

Following on from a successful two week first placement at Tweenhills Farm & Stud, Georgia spent four weeks at Newsells Park Stud, assisting with the busy sales period and joining the team back at the farm to begin the all-important foal sale preparation.

She documents her second placement during those busy four weeks:

Weeks 1-2 

The next part of my placement for the TTC was at the Tattersalls October Sales running cards for Newsells Park Stud. My only experience of the sales prior to this had been as a casual observer at the July sale and I’m not sure it entirely prepared me for what I was about to walk into. I can honestly say that running cards was the highest-pressure job I have had, but I can also say that in spite of everything I did enjoy it and learnt a phenomenal amount about the bloodstock industry.  

I began on the Saturday morning before selling began on the Tuesday. Things began gradually enough but by lunch time on the first day the viewings had begun in earnest and this continued with little let up for the next few days. I can only thank everyone at Newsells for their patience while I found my feet, because on that first day I must have been infuriating! 

The sales is understandably high pressure because of the amount of money that is at stake, but also because of the amount of effort that the team at Newsells put in. It is only fair that when it comes to showing the horses that they have the best possible chance to show the horse to it’s full potential.  If the interest in the horse isn’t sparked in the right people, this can mean the difference between a horse selling for 7 figures and the horse not selling at all.  For those running cards this means trying to give each horse enough space to walk, to try and get the best spot–ideally in the sun on the rubber matting, and not to keep clients waiting too long.  

Just as I has settled into the rhythm of Book 1, it was time for Book 2. This meant learning a whole new set of horses, at least by this point I had a grip on the way things worked. Also, I at least knew some more client’s names, knew who wouldn’t mind waiting to see a horse, and who was absolutely not to be kept waiting.   

For anyone wanting to learn more about the bloodstock industry I would say running cards is one of the most useful things you could do. From listening to conversations and really watching the horses you can get a much better understanding of the nuances of the industry. Another incredibly valuable thing about running cards is that you get the chance to interact with all the agents, learning who they are and which studs they work for.  Whilst at the time the sales can seem overwhelming, looking back on my experiences there I can totally see why the sales can become addictive and am slightly saddened by the fact it will probably be a while before I return to one.  

 Weeks 3-4 

After the sales I came back to the farm at Newsells to finish off the final two weeks of my placement assisting with some foal prep ready for the December sales. The timing of the placement is perfect because it means you get to experience yearling prep, the sales and then foal prep all of which are different in their own way.  

Working at Newsells really raises you own expectations and standards. The facilities they have in terms of barns and field space are phenomenal, and like most studs attention to detail is at the core of their work. My own horse is a bit shocked to find he is now being obsessively groomed, mucked out, fed and his stable cleaned- he is looking better for it and my stable management has certainly been given a much needed top up.  

When the foals come into be prepped, unless they have had an injury as a foal, this will be the first time in a while they have been in a stable for long periods and handled. People always say that routine is important to a horse but in helping foals to settle even more so. The routine began very gently with the foals just getting used to being turned out and coming back into their stables. After a week of this they progress onto getting used to being brushed and having their feet picked out. This stage is where you have to keep your wits about you for a set of teeth or a rogue foot, but these outbursts soon settle down. The next stage was to start walking the foals in hand, starting with just 10 minutes and gradually building up. As with yearlings how a foal walks is integral to the price it will fetch at the sales so this means walking at a pretty stiff pace. By the time I left Newsells I was much fitter for my hours’ worth of walking each morning up, which included routes up some fairly large hills.  

I would like to thank the whole team at Newsells Park for a fantastic 4 weeks. As with my time at Tweenhills I learnt more than I could have possibly imagined and know that the grounding I have had at Newsells will serve me very well in the future.