In this article we continue our behind the scenes journey with FEI Grand Prix Dressage Competitor and Dressage Judge, Melinda Hart and her beautiful Grand Prix Stallion, Richmond H. Melinda has shared with us her experiences and life lessons that have led her to develop and implement the daily management plan that she has in place at Mirabella Warmbloods.
A Typical day for Richmond H
There is always a sense of calm at Mirabella, the horses are happy and content – often seen napping in the sun and thriving on a routine that has been carefully designed for their mental and physical health. It is worth noting that Melinda also successfully runs a performance yard that is home to stallions, geldings and mares.
So, what does a typical day look like for Richmond H?
Melinda described Richmond H’s routine to us as very structured, with the focus being on safety and practicality for Richmond H and the other horses on the property. Richmond H and the horses that are stabled overnight have their breakfast in their stables at 7am, with Richmond H being the first to receive his breakfast. After breakfast, Richmond H is then the first to be turned out into the paddock. He spends his day in his post and rail paddock, specifically designed for him, with his specific needs in mind.
At 2pm, Richmond H is again the first one to be brought back into the stables, where a late lunch hay is waiting for him. The remainder of the stabled horses are brought in at 3pm. A hard feed dinner is served at 4pm and hay is topped up at the end of the day before the barn doors are closed up for the evening.
Staff Training, Signage and Rules
For the safety of all horses and humans at Mirabella Warmbloods, Melinda is meticulous about providing extensive training for her staff that handle the horses on a daily basis. Richmond H is the perfect gentleman, however the staff are carefully trained in stallion handling and what to do in the event that something were to happen. This training is essential to ensure the safety of every horse and human that visits and trains at Mirabella Warmbloods.
Melinda has what she describes as strict rules; developed and implemented through trial and error over the years since Richmond H’s arrival to Mirabella Warmbloods. Each rule that is now in place has been established through a learning experience. Melinda shared with us how a noteworthy rule came about, when she was leading a mare through the stable block. The mare planted herself in breeding pose in front of the stallion’s stable and would not move for anything, causing havoc in the barn! Thankfully no horses or humans were hurt in this situation, however from that day on Melinda put a strict rule in place that no mares were to be led past Richmond H’s stable. This rule is all about prevention, allowing the yard to run calmly and the horses to perform at their best on a day-to-day basis.
Richmond H’s stable is plastered with ‘Caution Stallion’ signage, you can’t miss him! The stable opposite him is also clearly labelled with ‘Caution Stallion in opposite stable – Do not tie here’. Richmond H’s stable looks out on the wash bay, with signage clearly asking that the window doors be closed when horses are being washed and opened once vacated. This simple yet effective signage around the stables and common areas, along with the strategic rules in place for all horses, agisters and visitors is essential to the day-to-day management of a stallion.
To date, Richmond H has approximately 30 foals on the ground, with the latest due any day now at Mirabella Warmbloods. Breeding season is where Richmond H’s one in a million temperament and impeccable manners shine. He is always the perfect gentleman, allowing Melinda to hand serve mares on the property single-handed in the paddock. Throughout the season, Melinda keeps Richmond H in full work and his routine is kept as close to normal as possible.
As mentioned in the previous article, while the mares are stabled overnight in the same barn as Richmond H, the mares’ paddocks are on the opposite side of the property. The stallions and geldings cannot see the mares from their paddocks. Melinda shared with us another one of her lessons learnt, this time when she was single-handedly live serving a mare with Richmond H in a paddock on the mare side of the property. She did this for multiple days in a row during the breeding season.
During the same season, Melinda soon realised that Richmond H was associating the mares’ paddocks with breeding. For the safety of everyone at the yard, the mares’ paddocks soon became off limits to Richmond H when being ridden or handled to help him differentiate between work and play!
Be sure to tune in next fortnight for part three of our Stallion Management series, with our final part in the journey of Richmond H and Melinda Hart.