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Student's share unique trip to Tattersalls

12th Jan 2023

We caught up with second year students Paris and Catherine from the Abingdon & Witney College’s Equine Management course to hear about their unique trip to Tattersalls.

In November 2022, students Paris and Catherine joined their Stud Groom, Anna Wesolowska, on a three-day trip to Newmarket for the Tattersalls December Foal Sale. This year, Abingdon & Witney College bred and sold three Thoroughbreds, alongside, a foal they consigned from another owner. The four sold for a total of 27,000 Guinea’s.

In the Q&A below, Paris and Catherine caught us up on their Tattersalls experience, during which they stayed in Newmarket.

Tell us what you got up to, what did your trip look like?

Catherine “We headed down the evening before the event began as we were expecting early starts; despite Tattersalls not opening until 8am, we were up at 5am every day so we could get to the stables early and make sure that we had plenty of time to prepare the foals. We would take the foals for their morning walk, muck out their stables and spend plenty of time with them to make sure they got used to the venue and felt comfortable before the buyers arrived.”
Catherine “The event happens in two parts. On the final day we sold our foals, but before that, we were on hand for potential buyers to come and view the foals. The buyers would pick which one(s) they wanted to see, and we would walk them so that the potential buyers could see the way they move and inspect them.”

Was that part nerve wracking?

Catherine “A bit yes, although we’d practiced, the environment still felt new; but luckily our lecturer was very helpful. She showed us how to do it, helped us calm down and once we’d done it once or twice it just felt natural. We knew how the foals would react and it just got easier and easier, to the point where I now want to go into that type of industry. It’s really opened a whole new world for me.”

How do the first few days work? Do prospective buyers have a set time they can come?

Catherine “They can come from 8am as soon as it opens until it closes, they were long days! You could have a person who only wanted to look at one foal, or someone who wanted to look at all four. You never knew what you were going to get so it was very exciting.”

Was there a lot to do to prepare the foals?

Paris “We were with the foals from birth, and we groomed and cared for them whilst they were with their mothers so that they could get used to human contact and to having us around. Once they were weaned, we start training them in the fields. All the College’s equine students, no matter what level they are, have the opportunity to spend time with the foals. We all handle them and walk them, even before the preparation for the sale begins. It makes such a difference to how the foals feel on the day, they are more comfortable and tend to be a lot less skittish in the ring.”

Did you get to practice for the show ring beforehand?

Paris “There are lots of parts we needed to practice and prepare for, even simply getting them used to going on transport and a lorry takes time. For the sales, we did lots of practice with them in the College’s indoor arena, and as the foals got slightly older, we began putting them on the College’s horse walker.”
Catherine “We’d take them for walks around the main parts of the College campus, just so they would get used to walking in different environments. The more we could open them up to, the easier it would be at the sales and the more confident we’d feel. Although, having said that, on the final day they were still very excited!”

How has it influenced what you want to do in the future?

Catherine “It’s made me want to work with Thoroughbreds in the future, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and there was something about it which really drew me in.”
Paris “It was a great opportunity, but I wasn’t overly sure the sale process was for me. I found it difficult as I got very attached to the horses, and it was sad to see them go. I think I would be happier going into the industry as a trainer with the older horses; the later stages of horse racing seem much more suited to me. I would get to care for the horses when they have matured a bit, spending more time with them and as they aren’t as clingy when they are older, I think I’d find it easier to say goodbye.”

Would you recommend the trip?

Catherine “Yes definitely. It is an amazing opportunity, a once in a lifetime thing. If it wasn’t for the college, I don’t think I would have ever had the chance to do it.”
Paris “Yes, me too. It’s shown us just how many jobs there are in the sector. Most of the buyers were agents buying horses on behalf of others; I hadn’t realised the sales part was so separate from the training. Even if I don’t end up in sales, I now know I can work for an owner and have responsibility for the foal’s care. There are so many new career branches we have found out about from just one trip. We’ve both come away knowing about so many more jobs than before. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to give it a go.”

It was great to hear about the Tattersalls experience from Paris and Catherine who kindly shared their time with us and gave us a brilliant insight into their trip. To learn more about the opportunities provided and Equine courses at Abingdon & Witney College, please click here.