What better inspiration than the inaugural HSI Stallion Showcase to sit and write this year’s welcome?

I’m sitting in Cavan Equestrian Centre with a cuppa and my notepad and the heady soundtrack of horses and humans is buzzing away all around me.

There’s something about the smell of horses and coffee that has always been a joy for me, and by the looks of it tonight, it’s a joy for many others too.

At the heart of it all there are over 30 magnificent Irish breeding stallions from across the Connemara, Irish Draught, Irish Sport Horse, Irish Sport Pony and Warmblood studbooks. It’s truly a sight to behold.

As all of us breeders know, those 338 to 365 days are a long old wait to see your theoretical plans manifest into living, breathing, foal form. The work before and after those 11 months is not for the faint-hearted and so for this year’s supplement, I chose the editorial theme of ‘good guidance’.

Look for support

Breeding can be a lonely affair and knowing where to look for support and wise counsel may not always be easy. We can be afraid to ask questions for fear of making fools of ourselves, we may not listen well enough to those who have succeeded before us, or we may be so caught up in the everyday hard work of equine farming that there is no time left for any more.

Whatever your situation, it is my hope that in these 36 pages you can find some helpful voices.

Having lost a foal at nine months gestation last month, the good guidance from my vet was never more welcomed. My advice is keep in regular contact with your vet, their knowledge and confidence can sometimes be the difference between the outcome you want and the outcome you dread.

In this supplement, you’ll find seven pages of expert reproductive veterinary advice covering pre-breeding, equine health and foaling. We also have some of the top breeders not just in Ireland but the world. Ballypatrick Stables, Connolly Stud Farm and Heritage Stud all share their personal journeys on what it takes to breed, care for or build for the very best.

Farm model

I look to Sweden for a sustainable breeding farm model and Horse Sport Ireland are on hand with their latest information and support schemes for breeders. Wendy Conlon of Teagasc celebrates the Young Breeders National Champions who will go on to represent the Irish Sport Horse Studbook at the next World Championships. We are thrilled to have guest writer Adriana van Tilburg back with us to explore the pedigree of sire of the moment Ermitage Kalone, and the experts at Connolly’s Red Mills have set out their sound advice on the nutritional needs for youngstock.

However many foals you have on the way this season, whether your operation is a hobby or commercial one, remember to look after yourself in amongst the late nights and foaling alarms.

I wish all of our readers safe arrival for your foals and good health for your mares, your stallions and for you.

PS. Be kind to your vet, it’s a tough job.

Tune in to our podcast

‘Sport Horse Breeding: Bloodlines, Sweat and Tears’ available on farmersjournal.ie and theirishfield.ie