Images throughout this brochure courtesy Katrina Partridge Photography,
Georgie Lomax Photography & Melanie Sunderland
The Hunter Valley
is the world’s second largest centre for breeding of thoroughbred horses. Along with Kentucky in the
USA and Newmarket in England, the Hunter Valley is a global centre of excellence and is recognised as
an industry world leader.
That is why when you commence a career in the Hunter’s Thoroughbred Breeding Industry, you’re
starting your career at the top.
Whether you start straight out of school or commence your career as a graduate or with previous
experience in another industry, working in thoroughbred breeding will be rewarding, challenging and
allow you to grow and achieve more than you think possible. It’s an international industry that affords
you the opportunity to learn, grow, see the world and chose a path that’s right for you - whether
that be on a farm, in the media, at the track or in an administrative role that runs one of the biggest
industries in Australia.
Total Prize Money in 2011
Total Spend at Bloodstock Auction Sales 2011
Total Wagering of Thoroughbred Racing 2011
Australian Stud Book
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia
Approximately 25,300 mares are covered by
stallions in Australia every year, with over one
third of these matings taking place on farms
within the Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley is
renowned as the premier source of quality
bloodstock in Australia and many of the
horses that end up racing at the highest level
(Group One status races) are born here every
year. These quality horses often return to the
Hunter Valley as stallions or broodmares on
completion of their racing careers and shape
the future of the racing industry.
Average No. of all thoroughbred mares
covered in Australia 2006 - 2010 (as a %)
WA 0% SA 4% TAS 2% NT 0%
Average Number of foals born each year
2007 - 2011
Over 100 stallions stood in the Hunter Valley in 2010. The Hunter Valley has been the home to the
champion Sire of Australia for 17 of the last 20 years. These sires include the likes of Lonhro,
Redoute’s Choice, Encosta de Lago and Flying Spur, all of whom were bred in the Hunter Valley.
Australian Stud Book
The Hunter Valley Stud & Broodmare Farms
The Hunter is home to approximately 70 thoroughbred farms. This number is made up of large commercial
farms (where stallions are used for serving mares) and small to medium size broodmare farms. Many stud and
broodmare farms agist mares for clients throughout the year however the number of mares will increase
significantly during the breeding season which begins on 1 September each year.
Stud and broodmare farms are busy places all year round. Mares generally commence foaling from late
July / early August each year. Whilst the day to day duties of looking after horses and general farming continues,
there is the added responsibility of helping deliver the next generation of racehorses into the world.
As the number of mares foaling down begins to slow from November onwards, much of the focus switches
to the preparation of horses (particularly yearlings) for the commercial sales throughout Australia and
New Zealand. Between January and June, major yearling sales are held on the Gold Coast as well as in Sydney,
Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. There are also major sales of broodmares and weanlings during this time.
The preparation of the horses for these sales tends to be an intense and exciting time on most farms and staff
look forward to the opportunity to travel throughout Australia.
The international nature of the industry is well demonstrated by ‘Shuttle’ stallions. These are stallions that
travel from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere to serve mares each year.
Around the New Year, many stallion grooms will accompany these stallions from Australia to the other side
of the world for the Northern Hemisphere breeding season which commences on February 15th. Here they will
spend about 5 months looking after stallions either in Europe, the USA or Japan.
Which Path Do I Choose?
There are many and varied roles within the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeding Industry depending on
your skills and qualifications. It is important to realise that the bloodstock industry is a vast one and
irrespective of age, gender, experience or qualifications, there will be a role in the industry that best
compliments your skill set or attributes. Whether you are straight out of secondary or tertiary education,
or looking for a career change later in life, the Hunter Valley Breeding Industry presents a huge variety
of interesting, exciting and challenging opportunities.
The following will give you a snapshot of what’s involved and may help steer you in the right direction.
A stud groom is fundamental to the day to day running and operation of any stud farm and it is a role that
allows you to develop an almost comprehensive understanding of the practical aspects of running any
stud farm. Stud grooms are the backbone of the farm, ensuring the day to day care of the horses and farm
is to the highest standards. Developing an understanding of the day to day workings of a stud farm will
give you the greatest grounding you could receive for a career in the Thoroughbred Breeding Industry and
will provide you with much of the knowledge that you will need to one day manage a large commercial
thoroughbred farm or your own business. The foundations of a good racehorse are established during it’s
youth and experiencing life on a stud farm can help you to understand and experience the fundamental
aspects of breeding a quality horse. It can also lead to other roles within the industry and is a great way to
gauge where your career may head in the future.
The role of the Stud Groom may include:
Feeding and grooming of horses
Cleaning of stables and yards
General stable maintenance such as cleaning water troughs and small repairs
Treatment of minor injuries and wounds on horses
Ordering of feed, veterinary and saddlery supplies
Ensuring quarantine procedures are adhered to
With experience, grooms may also be given the opportunity to assist in foaling mares
Handling of young horses and preparation of these horses for sales. This includes teaching horses
to lead, washing, grooming and putting horses on the walking machine.
Presentation of weanlings, yearlings and mares to prospective buyers at horse sales
Preparation of mares for entry to the serving barn during the breeding season
Some grooms that are employed on larger farms with international operations or grooms with
adequate knowledge and expertise from smaller operations may also have the opportunity
to travel to these farms.
Stallion Handlers & Grooms
The role of a Stallion handler is essentially a progression from that of a stud groom. It requires a high
standard of horsemanship which is generally developed during time as a stud groom. Being a stallion
handler sees involvement in the management of stallions and the mare covering process. There is the
significant responsibility of looking after these highly valued thoroughbreds and seeing the safe
practices of serving (or covering) broodmares during the breeding season. Stallion handlers employed
by international studs may also be required to travel to the northern hemisphere for the breeding
season which follows on directly after the Australian breeding season.
The role of the Stallion Handler may include:
Control of stallions during the mating of mares
Control of mares during the mating process
Preparation and presentation of stallions to clients at stud stallion parades
Putting stallions on exercise walkers and/or hand walking
Ensuring quarantine procedures are adhered to
Veterinary nurses are employed on a stud farm to assist veterinarians in rehabilitating horses with
injuries or illness. They are also very often largely involved in the delivery of foals and hence many vet
nurses are employed as ‘Night Watch’ workers during the foaling season. Quite often, veterinary nurses
will be employed as stud grooms but will hold additional responsibilities.
The role of a Veterinary Nurse includes:
Administering drugs to horses
Monitoring sick and injured horses
Transporting horses to hospital
Delivery of foals
The role of a stud administration officer is to ensure the day to day running of the stud office which is
the central point of contact for clients wishing to book their mares into stallions or the monitoring of
veterinary schedules relating to the breeding of mares. Stud Administrators will often also control the
accounts and communications of the farm.
A stud administration role may include:
General administrative duties such as speaking with clients, office admin including production
Daily administration of the farm record keeping system. This usually involves maintenance of
computer programs or systems developed to record the veterinary notes regarding cycle of mares,
stages of yearling and weanling preparation as well as foaling information. You will also be
required to produce reports to assist the stud manager in keeping track of the many horses
on the farm
Booking of client mares for service by a stallion
Organisation of horse transport
Some farms may also require their Stud Admin role to administer the accounts and financial
records of the farm
A farm which stands stallions will usually have a ‘Nominations’ team. It is the role of the nominations
team to work hand in hand with the marketing team to attract mare owners to their stallions. The
nominations team are experts in the pedigrees of thoroughbreds and work to achieve the best mating
between a mare and stallion in order to produce offspring that will fetch high prices for their owners at
a sale and/or go on to make outstanding racehorses.
The role of the nominations employee will include:
Studying and analysis of pedigrees
Communication with clients (mare owners) and sales of stallion nominations (or mare bookings)
Inspection of foals, weanlings and yearlings which are progeny of the studs stallions.
This involves travel to broodmare farms and other studs not only around the Hunter Valley but
to farms in other states of Australia as well as New Zealand
Attending of all major sales in Australia and New Zealand as well as other sales throughout
As with any marketing role, it is the role of a thoroughbred farm marketing employee to promote the
benefits of becoming a client of that farm. This will include the promotion of stallions,
agistment and horses for sale.
The day to day operations of the marketing team may include:
Production of promotional material such as flyers, brochures and merchandise
Maintenance of the website and other communication streams
Raceday attendance and hosting of functions at the racecourse
Farmers play an integral role in the running of any thoroughbred farm. Amongst other factors, water
quality, pasture maintenance and fencing play a huge major in the success of a thoroughbred farm and
it is the role of the farming staff to ensure it is at its best.
The role of the farming staff may include:
Pasture maintenance including sewing seed, slashing and week control
Maintenance of fencing
Gardening and tree planting
Soil and water testing
Maintenance of roads and laneways
Cattle production, care and sale
Ordering and maintenance of farm equipment
Many of the larger farms also employ specialist staff
to help with the day to day running of the farm and
business. These roles include roles in Human
Resource Management, Building and Maintenance
and Accounting and Finance.
And at the other extreme, if you are on a very small
farm, your position may involve many of the jobs
described previously, all wrapped up into one very
busy and demanding role.
The Greater Industry in the Hunter
No matter where you start your career in the Hunter’s thoroughbred breeding industry, it’s diversity will
ensure you have the opportunity follow many paths. The greater industry in the Hunter Valley may also
lead you to specialise in the following careers:
Vet Nursing for a veterinary hospital or clinic
Horse Physio & Chiropractic
Horse breaking and training
A position in the racing industry
Living and Working on a Stud Farm
Most stud farms offer accommodation for staff ranging from smaller one-room apartments to three or
four bedroom houses. Some farms offer share accommodation and other individual units or houses.
Singles as well as families are both catered for and living on a farm has a great community feel.
Smaller farms may not have on-farm accommodation however these are usually those which are
situated next to a town such as Aberdeen, Denman, Murrurundi or Scone.
How to get started
There are several ways you might commence your career in the thoroughbred breeding industry.
Respond to an advertisement.
Roles in the industry are often published in local papers and media. If you do not live in the area,
the local jobs are advertised in the following publications:
Approach a Stud Manager or Human
If you are looking for a Stud Groom position, you should write to the stud(s) of your choice as
conscientious and ambitious staff are always in demand. If you do not feel you have had enough
experience, it would be worthwhile contacting these studs anyway and expressing your interest
to learn as you may just be the person they’re looking for.
You can find a listing of studs on HTBA’s website at www.htba.com.au or find us on Facebook.
Other Employment Websites
There are several thoroughbred breeding industry employment websites. These include:
Industry Related Courses
NEW SOUTH WALES
Diploma of Horse Industry Management
Certificate III Agriculture - Horse Breeding
Certificate III Horse Industry Practice
Certificate III Equine Nursing
Certificate III Farriery
Racing Stable hand
Short courses in specialist study areas
Available at various campuses in NSW
CHARLES STURT UNIVERSITY - Wagga Wagga
Bachelor of Equine Science
TOCAL AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE
Cert III Agriculture - Horse Breeding
Associate degree in Equine Studies
MARCUS OLDHAM COLLEGE - Geelong
Diploma of Horse Business Management
TAFE VIC - various campuses
Diploma of Equine Stud Management
Equine Nursing - Cert III
Cert III Agriculture - Horse Breeding
Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association
Please feel free to contact us regarding any other questions
or help you may require.
PO Box 538
SCONE NSW 2337
Please visit our website or email us at email@example.com