Ever wondered what happens late afternoon on a stud farm? You might be sitting in your office or home and look out at a street or tree, so I decided to take my camera and invite you along for a stroll around the Summerhill stables.

My first stop is the stallion barn and instead of seeing the dad’s of the farm prancing about, there’s Grant (our photographer) and some of the mare guys busy taking pictures of the Hong Kong Breeders Club’s mares. Believe me when I tell you it is no easy task to take a conformation picture of a horse. It takes a lot of patience and a quick finger. Amongst other things, the front legs need to be in just the right place, not to mention the ears forward.

On my way to the workshop I pass D-block stables where Ready To Run staff are busy wrapping the leg of a yearling. Bandages are tricky things. They look really simple and straightforward, but just a tad too much pressure or too little, can bow a tendon or cause more damage than good. So take no offence if we don’t let you do a bandage at Summerhill – you need to be an expert at it.

The workshop is finishing up for the day, not that the work there is ever done. As fast as they can repair our tractors, bakkies etc, we send another one straight back in. They say horse-people are not people’s-people, but I’ll tell you something, we’re definitely not mechanically-orientated people.

Walking around Vuma’s new extrusion plant, I pass John Motaung taking yearlings up to their stables. These are horses being prepped for the Breeze Up sale in November and they’re looking really well. There’s no trace of the fluffy winter coats or grass bellies anymore – they are starting to look like proper racehorses.

At the maintenance workshop, they’re very busy mending chairs for this weekends wedding at the Hartford House chapel.

Our small camps have been rested and are ready to provide the arena for the first steps, a walk, then a trot and finally a very wobbly canter of all the newborn foals. Mares and their new babies spend anything from a week to 10 days in these paddocks to bond, before they are introduced to herd mates.

Here Greig’s team (headed by John Gcalekhe) is busy building new water troughs that are not only safe and easy to clean, but also very attractive on the eye. From the small camps I decide to take a short cut across the grass to B-block stables. Remember my posting a few months ago of the very industrious project to stone clad these stables? Well you will not recognize them these days. Wow, the transformation is unbelievable, talk about a caterpillar turning into a moth.

I decide to make my way back to the office and on the way there I pass none other but Greig, the stallion manager himself. Seeing the camera in my hands he did not miss a beat and struck a pose. I finish my afternoon stroll with this picture, still laughing just thinking about it.

Posted by Annet Becker

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