With the season only a short month away and the first foals on the ground, it’s a crucial time for stallion masters around the country to ensure their stallions are fresh, fit and fertile in time for the busy season ahead.
One of the best at the job, and renowned in the industry, is Stud Manager at Woodside Park Stud, Ben Gunn.
Born and bred into the industry in Newmarket, Gunn has gained valuable experience working in the barn at Darley UK, before Darley Victoria, and is now the main man responsible for the performance of Woodside Park Stud’s covering barn.
“It’s going to be a huge spring, so I need to ensure that the stallions are in fine form at the start the season, while managing them correctly so that they finish off the season as fit and fertile as they begin,” Gunn said.
“We take the winter break very seriously. We drop the energy content of their feed down and let them spend as much time in the paddock as possible. This allows them to have a physical and mental break, while we closely monitor their weight, condition and health.”
“During the breeding season they are continually getting groomed and paraded, so it is imperative during this time we let them “be a horse” and give them adequate downtime.”
Each stallion at Woodside Park Stud is treated individually in terms of their nutritional requirements and exercise program, but using broad strokes, they all start exercising for the breeding season at the start of July.
“We use the walker and hand walk the stallions. They enjoy being on the lead, always bright and interested, and you can get them really moving and using themselves for correct muscle development.”
“Written Tycoon is still highly fertile, with his book only limited to ensure he is covering a good number of high-quality mares for many years to come.”
“Rich Enuff is an enthusiastic young stallion, with fertility as good as his old man. Such an easy horse to do anything with, he always looks amazing with a wonderful coat. Professional to handle, he is ready to cover his biggest and best book of mares yet.”
“Tosen Stardom has let down beautifully over the winter and has appreciated the last 12 months to relax and embrace his new career. He is fertile, good-natured, straight forward, and ready for a busy spring ahead,” Gunn said.
“Cable Bay is a lovely physical. He’s been a pleasure to work with in his past two seasons in the barn. We’re very pleased with his progeny, and excited by the results he is achieving on the track with his first northern hemisphere crop.”
While there is no doubt that Foxwedge has been extremely well received by mare owners, and he has taken beautifully to his new home at Woodside Park Stud.
“He has settled in well, taken it all in his stride, and looks very well and content.”
“Overall, when handling and caring for stallions, it is important to keep them happy to keep their fertility high. Keep them fresh, feed them well, and balance their exercise.”
“One vital part of that is by managing their books properly. If a stallion is better with three covers a day, you don’t do a fourth, and we are fortunate our clients understand that. We want their strike rate to be as good at the end of the season, as it is in the beginning,” Gunn said.
While also crucial in terms of fertility stats, is having a committed and dedicated team who will go above and beyond.
“You have to give a wrap to the stallion staff who come in all hours. They cover up to four times a day to allow us to deal with large books of mares effectively. While our broodmare staff will not hesitate to go out of their way to put the welfare of the mares first. They will often come in early to bring a mare up to the covering shed. This allows her to spend the night out in her paddock relaxed, rather than stressing in a unfamiliar yard.”
“These are the 1%ers that ensure that each stallion is afforded the best chance of a successful mating with every mare they cover, and the whole team at Woodside Park Stud diligently play their part.”
Woodside Park Stud warmly invites you to come to their annual parade and open day on Saturday 17th August at 10am at the stallion and breeding farm located at 95 Central Road, Tylden, Victoria.