24th March 2014

Racing Hearts: Paddy Meehan, The National Stud

The way I describe my job depends on who is asking: if it is one of the old dears on a tour of the Stud, I will try to be a bit delicate! But I look after the breeding stallions at The National Stud and that's several million pounds worth of horseflesh I am responsible for.

I have been Stallion Man here for the past 27 years. I grew up on a stud farm in Ireland, I left school at 14 knowing exactly what I wanted to do and I've been lucky enough to have the chance to do it.

I don't have a typical day really. At the times of year when we are quiet, my job is to see that the animals are fit and healthy. That means keeping them in top condition ready to be shown to mare owners and at the peak of their fitness ready for the breeding season.

I spend pretty much all my time with the horses, they all think that they are the alpha male: there's no challenge to their position so they tend to be quite full of themselves.

Our busy time of year is during the breeding season when we've got as many as three mares to be covered by each stallion each day. When the mare arrives, the manager goest through the paperwork and scans their microchip so we know we've got the right one. Then a teaser stallion is introduced and if she accepts him she's likely to behave with the stallion. Once she's ready I lead our boy in and around 80 seconds later it's all over. There's no romance involved!

Everyone who works closely with horses can expect to the injured at some point. Most injuries are caused by accidents but racehorses can be aggressive so you have to be constantly vigilant.

The stallions are put out everyday where they are free to run and get it out of their system. If they are cooped up in a stable they tend to get creative and you don't go pound for pound against one of these fellows. They know when they're outside that's playtime and when they're in the breeding shed it's work time. The routine is important to keeping calm and relaxed.

I do feel very fortunate to have met some fantastic people over the years. I've met some famous owners and trainers and some really good horse people too.

The stallions have owners or shareholders but I know them as well as anyone. I'm with them everyday so I really feel like they're my own.