Some of the best moments of college were the unplanned moments. I was in a sorority and just hanging out in the house with my sisters was great. One of my last semesters, I was riding Dressage and got to project a horse that was great. I really enjoyed working with him and I had the opportunity to show him with the school. Silvano was a school favorite then and still is.
William Woods really helped me with time management. I had to balance extra-curricular activities, being in a sorority, and working with the horses. I also had a job outside of school and had to balance homework. That skill of time management definitely played a big role with where I am at now.
An international journey
I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan and though I was the only one in my family interested in horses, my family let me take lessons growing up. I went to a community college for a year, because I knew I wanted to work with horses, but I did not know how to do that. I met a William Woods alumna when I was in Grand Rapids and she told me that the program allows you to do so many different things with horses. So I applied to transfer to The Woods and never looked back.
I graduated with an Equine Administration major as well as one in Business Administration. That summer I went back to the job I had done previously working on a farm with draft horses. In October of 2017 I moved to Australia to work at Widden Studs, a thoroughbred breeding farm there. I worked there for 10 months and then I moved to Kentucky to work on another breeding farm.
Both of the breeding farms were some of the biggest in the world, and while there were similarities, there were also significant differences between the two countries. They work the same in that in both countries you have a breeding season, a yearling season, and then maybe a little bit of down time before it starts all over. The biggest difference is the way that they work. In Australia, all the mares are outside all the time, and only come into stalls if they are injured or sick. In America, all of the mares foal inside. It’s a different amount of work because you are mucking their stalls more and turning them in and out.
Always on call
I just got promoted at Coolmore America to be a vet nurse. Before that I was a groom. As a vet nurse I am a floater, so if a horse needs to be with the vet, or needs any kind of vetting work I have to be there. Our farms have two different areas, and I have to run back and forth between them a lot to meet vets, give medicine, and otherwise tend to any horse that needs extra care.
During the foaling season, which runs from January to May, I am on call 24/7. If a mare gives birth, I need to go out to the farm and make sure both the mare and foal are healthy. I still work day hours during the season, so I check on all the mares and foals regularly to make sure they are healthy. I may have to take a horse to the vet clinic or go check on what is being attended on there. I never really have two days that are the same here.
Because my role is to take care of sick horses, I am on call every day. I have one day off a week, but if a horse is sick on that day, I still need to go in. As a groom, I was not on call like this, so it really depends what role you have on a farm.
A stable career
I always wanted to work with horses every day, because they are my passion. I originally came to William Woods because I did not want to be a vet and The Woods gives you an opportunity to learn about so many other areas of the equine industry. Then when I was at William Woods and took classes with the campus vet, Dr. Paul Schlitz, I found that I really did like caring for the sick and injured horses. I realized I did not want the schooling and the lifestyle of a fulltime vet, but I still wanted to work some way in this capacity. I kind of just fell into the opportunity here at this job.
Working at a large breeding farm has a lot of benefits. I am really fortunate to have a job here and be in the position I am in. Since it is a large operation, we receive benefits that are not as prominent in the smaller farms. I have health and dental insurance, along with other benefits, at a really affordable cost. I live on the farm, and because of my position, I am also provided a vehicle and phone. My income goes a lot farther when I have so much provided by my employer. I have been very blessed since graduating at William Woods.
All about progress
I would say making the horses make progress is my favorite part of my job now. And that has two parts to it. It can be a horse that is sick that I have to spend nearly 24 hours a day with, to going back to being healthy and living in a field. Then there is also being there from the moment the foal is born and getting to watch them grow and develop their personality. The foals here will be sold at a yearling sale. Since we do thoroughbred breeding, must of them go on to be racehorses.
The two triple crown winners, Justify and American Pharaoh, also stay at the barn I work at, so it’s amazing to be around two of the best horses every day.
Advice to future equestrians
If an opportunity is thrown your way, even if it is not what you were expecting, take it. The only reason I am where I am today is because I never said no. When my old boss told me I was going to come work with him and the draft horses, I just said yes, even though I had never worked with a draft horse before. When I was offered the job in Australia, I just said yes. And when I was offered my current job, I just said yes. I’ve never regretted any of those yeses. When opportunity comes your way, if you have a way to make it happen, just say yes.