The Lordships Stud offers exciting opportunities for hands-on learning. It works on a commercial and educational basis, producing a few 'Lordships' prefixed horses each year as well as offering foaling, breeding, weaning and youngstock livery to clients.
Students gain experience with young stock and participate in sitting up duties and for foaling as well as foal handling and routine care. They are encouraged to focus on the skills they really want to develop, whether that is collection or backing and breaking young horses.
Lecturer in Equine, Caroline Farr, said: "Our students receive practical real-world knowledge that will set them up for a future career in their chosen field. They handle and prepare the young horses at Futurity or studbook evaluations, have taken young horses or stallions to county shows and have prepped for TB sales as well. When students come with a 'we would like to' proposition, we try to fulfil that if at all possible."
"WUC and Lordships Stud have also been extremely fortunate with the support we have been given by other studs within the industry, from reduced stud fees to student visits."
Thanks to the loan of quality breeding mares as well as gifted, purchased or homebred mares and quality livery mares, students studying at the stud have worked with some truly amazing bloodlines geared for all disciplines from sports ponies, to sport horse superstars and future racehorses.
Stallions such as Grafenstolz, Royaldik, Parco, Rubicell, Odermus R (The Stallion Company), Wavavoom, Summertime Blues (Woodlander Stud), Elroon (Witcham House Farm Stud) and Balou For Pleasure (Lisa Maynard) have enabled WUC to produce exceptional young horses.
Amongst those making their mark in the eventing field are horses ridden by World Eventing Champion, Ros Canter, who, together with her coach Caroline Moore, attended the University College's equine campus for a special demonstration in early 2020.
Ros has an important connection with WUC, as she rides two horses bred at Lordships Stud. Lordships Graffalo (Grafenstolz X Rock King) finished his 2020 season with a second in the 4* at Burnham Market and Lordships Parc Royale (Parco X Rock King) made the step up to 3* at the end of 2020.
Both young horses are out of the mare Cornish Queen (Rock King x Ben Faerie) who spent a couple of years on loan to Lordships Stud from owner Pennie Wallace, an invaluable supporter of the stud and its development for a great many years.
Cornish Queen has produced other outstanding horses, some of which were born at WUC for their owners. Pencos Crown Jewel (Jumbo X Rock King) who is again eventing with Ros Canter and has produced two of her own young event horses Jamakin Faer Trial (Mill Law X Jumbo) and Jamakin Faerie Folklaur (Lauriston X Jumbo) by embryo transfer.
Jamakin Faer Trial is out eventing and Jamakin Faerie Folklaur had her second foal in 2020, again both of which were born at Lordships Stud (Makin Rock 'n' Rule by Native Ruler and Makin House of Windsor by Timolin).
During Ros Canter's visit, WUC enjoyed a reuniting the members of the 'in house' equine family. Horses used in Ros and Caroline's demonstration were from the same lineage and a parade showcased Cornish Queen, Pencos Crown Jewel, Lordships Graffalo, Lordships Parc Royale, Jamakin Faer Trial, Jamakin Faerie Folklaur (in foal to Timolin at the time) and Makin Rock 'n' Rule.
Other young homebreds that have done particularly well are Lordships Oddball (Odermus R X King Charles) who was the Futurity reserve champion in the showjumping section in 2017, behind the champion Balou for Pleasure who is out of a Lordships Stud bred mare, Lordships La Rochelle. Lordships Bare Necessities (Balou for Pleasure X Now or Never M) earned Lordships Stud its recent Elite futurity score in 2019.
Working with outstanding homebred youngstock is just one of the opportunities Lordships Stud offers. WUC teaches College and University courses, with students working on undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations having the chance to undertake valuable research.
Charlotte Read, a third year studying BSc Equine Performance and Business Management, used horses at the stud as the focal point for her work.
She said: "My dissertation trial is looking into the effect of age and previous reproductive status of a mare on the nutritional quality of their milk and subsequently the foal's growth rate. Although only carried out on a handful of horses, I've found it to be a very interesting experiment from the practical side of colostrum/milk collections through to running laboratory tests."
"Having access to Lordships Stud at Writtle throughout both my college course as well as my undergraduate degree has aided my learning by huge amounts - it really helps putting the theory into practice and having such excellent resources and helpful staff have helped to make me much more confident in my knowledge".
On top of its research facilities, the University College has extensive links with organisations throughout the sector, including other UK studs.
In 2018, the WUC launched its one-year Thoroughbred Stud Operations programme. The only Level 4 course of its kind in the UK, which makes the most of WUC's industry contacts. It is aimed at developing students' understanding of raising and working with thoroughbreds specifically for a career in the thoroughbred stud industry, and includes work experience at one of several prestigious organisations.
Student Molly received a scholarship and placement from Shadwell Stud, one of several available for those interested in working in this sector. She said: "Lordships Stud has helped me understand the requirements of working to 'industry standard' and the practical nature of the work has helped me to adjust my work to the fast pace required. Working with a variety of horses from foals to stallions has prepared me for the variety of equines at Shadwell too!"
WUC balances academic work with extracurricular activities. The University College has an active Equine Society and, since 2018, students studying higher education courses have been able to apply for a place at the Equine Academy.
The Academy supports up to twelve talented competition riders for a year in their chosen discipline, whether that is Dressage, Showjumping, Eventing, or another recognised horse sport.
Members benefit from ridden training sessions from experienced in-house coaches as well as professional external trainers. All students are dedicated, with a proven track record in competition riding. Those without their own horses can apply to ride a WUC-owned young horse, produced for competition or sale.
BSc (Hons) Equine Performance Science student, Caoilin, events with her mare, Dolly. She said: "The Equine Academy at Writtle University College has provided me with the ability to continue to train and compete my mare alongside my studies.
She added: "I am eager to get back into intense training for the 2021 season ahead as I want to prove to myself (and to others) that eventing whilst being a university student is more than achievable if you put your mind to it."
WUC places safety first and is carefully following government regulations. During periods of lockdown, students and staff moved learning online with socially-distanced, in-person practical sessions taking place whenever permitted.
Student Emily, said: "The lecturers continued to be very supportive after the change to online delivery. They were very quick to respond to emails or messages left on Teams which enabled my learning to progress at a regular rate."
Industry experienced staff and practitioners in equine rehabilitation, behaviour, nutrition, breeding, competition riders and UKCC coaches have been finding new ways to offer a positive learning experience. Staff also utilised their strong links within the sector, with prestigious guest speakers, such as Nadine Brandtner, General Manager of the WBFSH, invited to deliver talks or Q&A sessions remotely.
WUC is anticipating the return to in-person teaching. On campus, students have access to fantastic facilities including around 50 horses, two indoor arenas, a sizeable outdoor arena, a horse walker and dedicated therapy barns, including a water treadmill. Many programmes also offer an exciting range of educational field trips.
For more information on Writtle University College's wide range of specialist equine courses, visit writtle.ac.uk/equine