Horse enthusiast who are passionate about working with Thoroughbred horses can now fast track their career through an industry traineeship.
The national training scheme called Fast Track is now entering its fifth year, and offers young people with a passion for horses a pathway into the breeding sector.
It as developed by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association in response to the industry staffing shortage.
It is a 12-month program is designed to target people from outside of breeding and racing and introduce them to Australia's vibrant Thoroughbred scene.
"The program has proved its success with 90 per cent of graduates still working in the industry, so it's exciting to start the process of finding our next recruits," said TBA chief executive, Tom Reilly.
"Fast Track is designed to give the trainees a great education and provide them with the foundational skills and knowledge needed to build successful careers in the industry."
Successful applicants commence a full-time traineeship with a stud farm while studying for a Certificate III in Horse Breeding - a nationally recognised formal qualification. They are paid a full time wage, even while studying.
To complement the on-the-job learning, students attend two intensive learning blocks in Scone (six weeks in total), where they receive a mix of practical training and classroom theory, as well as take part in a variety of field trips and personal development workshops.
One of Queensland's leading Thoroughbred Nurseries is Eureka Stud situated at Cambooya, and stud principal Scott McAlpine said Fast Track is something the industry really needed.
" When the trainees go to TAFE as well as working on the farm, it increases their interest in the industry," Mr McAlpine said .
"They have to do the physical work on the farm, but they also need to go to TAFE to learn the reasoning behind why we do things a certain way.
"If they want to make a career out of it, they need the technical information and that's why TAFE is important."
Mr McAlpine said that everybody has a different expectation of what it it will be like when they start.
"They all love it but you have to do 12 months in this industry to find out what you like otherwise you won't get to experience all of it.
"Over a 12 month period you'll go from foaling to breeding to yearlings and you get to experience the whole range of what goes on at the farm."
Madeline St Ledger is currently working her through her traineeship with the McAlpine family at Eureka Stud.
Madeline started last May and did her induction at TAFE in Scone, NSW before joining Eureka Stud.
"I absolutely love it and it has been a great experience and everyone is so helpful and wants to pass on their knowledge," Madeline said.
Madeline grew up with some horse sense having been to pony club and owning Quarter Horses and competed in cutting, but is now looking to pursue a career with Thoroughbreds.
"I complete my program in June and would like another 12 months here to see my baby foals grew up and go through the sale ring," she said.
NSW breeding barn Twins Hills Stud have taken trainees in each of the past three intakes and owner Olly Tait praised the standard of the young people on the program.
"Fast track is a fantastic initiative. People are at the core of the horse business and the more good
people we can attract into the industry the better," Mr Tait said.
"We have been involved with Fast Track for a number of years."
One who completed at traineeship at Twin HIlls Stud was Alyssa Pickels who again grew up with pleasure horses in Middlemount, in Central Queensland.
After finding out that the nursing degree she'd enrolled in wasn't for her, Alyssa worked with a racehorse trainer in Rockhampton for six months before moving to NSW to complete Fast Track in 2018.
"I didn't like the whole uni side of things and thought I'd do a gap year and then go back to uni but I loved it," she said
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After completing the Fast Track traineeship, Alyssa won an industry scholarship to the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, Ireland to further study breeding.
Now, instead of nursing people, Alyssa nurses foals as a senior staff member at Kitchwin Hills Stud in NSW.
"I'm working with the foals on the hospital side of it and am taking care of them when they're sick," she said
" When they get better I see them grow up into yearlings and go through the sales - I love the whole process."
Upon finishing their traineeship Fast Track students are eligible to apply for the Basil Nolan Jnr scholarship, (named in honour of the late Basil Nolan Junior of Raheen Stud, Gladfield) which sees TBA fund one place per year on the prestigious Irish National Stud Breeding Course in Ireland.
Fast Track is open to anyone in Australia who is 18 years and over, and previous graduates have come from far and wide, including Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and NSW.
Applicants are preferred to have basic horse handling skills but prior experience with Thoroughbreds isn't necessary.
Trainees have enjoyed placements on farms in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland and with planning underway for the biggest intake yet, TBA are calling for farms from all states to get in contact if they are interested in taking on a student.
If any Thoroughbred Stud is interest in taking a trainee they should reach out to TBA to find out what's involved."
Applications close February 28 and you can head to tbaus.com or email email@example.com to find out more information.
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