There comes a point in everybody’s life where we have that sink or swim moment. That was the first thing that came into my head when I was standing outside the Lane’s End front office with my two suitcases. I knew that when I walked into the office and introduced myself at the front desk, my life would change.
Everybody knows the international reputation of Lane’s End. Through their proven stallions, well-established broodmares lines and their runners’ record on the track, they have very much solidified themselves as one of the top – if not the top – stud farms in America. So, for a kid from Sydney who wanted to do something big for 2020, leaving Australia to go to Lane’s End was my equivalent of finally winning the lotto.
My first week at Lane’s End was learning the basics about how Lane’s End operates and the ins and outs of how the farm ticks over day by day. I was in the barren mare barn which, looking back, was a very gentle introduction into the workload and pace I would commence later. By the end of my first week, I had been moved into the Maiden Mares barn.
The barn houses 29 maidens made up of 15 Group 1 winners, 12 stakes winners or stakes-placed mares, a half-sibling to Justify and one of the Farish family’s fillies who is from a very successful broodmare family … no pressure!
My second week was the beginning of our barn being scanned and meeting the Lane’s End veterinary team. There are multiple vets who work throughout the farm on a day-to-day basis. We had several talks that week from all the vets on neonatal foal care, placentas 101, broodmare care and the expectations for the breeding season from both management and the veterinary team.
Personally, the highlight of my second week was seeing snow for the first time and believe me when I tell you how alive you feel walking around in -8 degrees!
My third week at Lane’s End was when the pace started to pick up. Two things became very apparent during that week, we have until July 4th to get all these mares (and the others who haven’t arrived yet) in foal … and Waffle House is a very convenient place to pick up a nice cup of hot chocolate in the morning!
Our barn family expanded as new staff arrived, and the list of my daily priorities changed. Under the careful guidance of my foreman, I began my various roles throughout the barn (e.g. drawing up medications, vet work, moving mares, organising and scheduling the farrier) and I was assigned what is arguably my most important job: check the paperwork for the mares who are going for a cover.
The week that marked my first month at Lane’s End I would easily describe as the busiest work week I have ever had in my life. In six days, we sent 27 out of 29 mares for cover and it’s busy weeks like these when you truly know how good your barn is.
The barn’s reputation and nickname of ‘the workhorse barn’ truly came to light. The well-oiled machine that is me and five other boys stuck our heads down and worked until the week was over with a bit of karaoke in between, watching the mares do something funny in the paddock or attempting to learn Spanish.
Looking back on my first month at Lane’s End and reading through all the small notes and remarks I made in my journal, it’s hard to think that it’s been a month. Leaving Australia and my family feels like a lifetime ago, but I wouldn’t change my life for the world.