Godolphin trainer James Cummings laments that more bush kids with animal handling skills are not getting involved in the horse racing industry.
Often he finds he is retraining staff from the city to handle animals with little common sense on how to work with horses. He says part of the secret of learning to work in a stable is to be able to understand instructions, execute them and be able to adapt. “Attitude and ability are important qualities in a stable,” he said.
“For instance our assistant trainer Darren Beadman was walking past a stall and saw a horse had been tied up with a rubber tie. He told the handler that the strap could break and hit the horse in the eye. He came back the next day and the horse had a sore eye.”
“You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see that was going to happen,” Beadman told the staffer.
Beadman, schooled in horse riding from an early age on his family’s place in the Southern Highlands and becoming one of the great all-time jockeys, is the kind of talent Godolphin wants among its hundreds of staff in Australia – and the type of employees other major stables such as Waterhouse and Waller are crying out for.
At just 30, James is in charge of one of the major stables in Australia, and he would like more of his employees to come from the bush.
The thoroughbred industry is driving the change for increasing the skills base in racing through a new program, Thoroughbred Industry Careers, with ‘Explorer Cadetships’ now on offer. The 12-month program commences with a three-month practical and theoretical learning block at the Australian Racing and Equine Academy (Richmond), with students residing at Western Sydney University (Richmond Campus).
The students are allocated to a leading trainer where they will spend 4.5 months on their first paid work-experience in a racing stable, followed by 4.5 months on a leading stud farm. Upon graduation they will be mentored into areas that interest them.
The first intake of 40 students will commence studies in February 2019 and the offer is now open for people under 24 until December 9 through www.tbindustrycareers.com.au/explorer-cadetship2.
James Cummings told The Land that there were solid career pathways through racing and that many people under 30 were making a big mark in the thoroughbred industry.
He said there was a paucity of rural people seeking work in the industry. “When you are in a stable you need to know everything from putting a head collar on a horse, taking a saddle off, identifying a loose shoe or even pulling a blood and also coping with unruly behaviour in a horse, such as dislodging a horse caught against a wall.”
“We’re finding it hard to get people off the land into our stables, people with that rural experience.” Age was not necessarily the issue, more attitude and ability and the ability to follow through instructions.
“I am finding that training staff is often as important if not more important as training horses .”
TIC chief Lindy Maurice said “when you are first starting out, it’s very difficult to know what to do and the choices are endless, so we have designed the Explorer Cadetship to give young people an opportunity to experience both the breeding and racing industries.”
“This is the first time a program like this has been offered in Australia and for those who want to pursue a life around horses, this is a great opportunity”, Maurice said.
Maurice said she had to navigate her own way through the horse industry herself, and this program was an opportunity to help guide youth, including bush kids, through the labyrinth with a practical outcome.
“There are endless opportunities for those good country kids who have a massive affinity with horses,” she said. Ms Maurice said she had already received an application this week from the country from someone whom she saw as potentially a perfect pre-trainer for a large establishment such as Godolphin.
Applications for the cadetships close on December 9.