Imelda’s passionate about her ‘babies’
There’s nothing quite like the first few minutes of a foal’s birth.
Imelda Skinner’s smile broadens as she talks about her babies.
The 49-year-old helps with the arrival of thoroughbred foals at Tamahere’s Pencarrow Stud.
Three times a week, Skinner is on duty from 9pm to 6.30am to monitor pregnant mares.
‘‘I give them a bottle and then they think I am the mother. Then, when I come back from doing other jobs, they Momentum Waikato is looking for a new leader. Founding chief executive Cheryl Reynolds is stepping down at the end of 2017 after four years in the role. Her mandate was to create an organisation ‘‘that can achieve intergenerational, transformative change’’. One of her highlights was work on the Waikato Regional Theatre proposal. Her next plan is to start a new philanthropic venture from Raglan in 2018 - her 12th startup. Momentum is calling for expressions of interest in the CEO role, which is advertised on Seek. recognise me and call out to me and even though mum is giving them their milk, there is still a connection with me.’’
Skinner has learnt to keep herself occupied on the overnight shift, especially if it’s a slow night.
‘‘The other night it was a bit slow, so I scrubbed foals’ covers and washed towels. And I do have the odd look at Facebook.’’
Skinner is dealing with thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of dollars’ worth of horses.
‘‘When I worked in Australia my boss said: ‘Don’t stop and think what the horses are worth.’
‘‘Some of the horses in the foaling paddock are worth over a million dollars and some are only worth twenty or thirty thousand.
‘‘But you know that all of them are worth a million dollars to their owners, so that is how you treat everyone.’’
The responsibility doesn’t end once the foal has arrived.
‘‘When the foals are born, I wait until they are what I class as stable …
‘‘Once they get to three to four hours old, you can check them every threequarters of an hour and the key thing you are looking for is to make sure they’re drinking.’’
The foaling season is between August and December, which means Skinner has to consider her work clothing carefully.
‘‘One of the worst things is if you get a cold – you’ll still have it in November, because you are only up at night and it’s cold and dark.
‘‘I start with a thermal singlet, a singlet over that, two T-shirts, a light sweatshirt, a vest, a heavy sweatshirt and then a thermal jacket, a scarf, a beanie, and most nights thermal long johns underneath my pants.
‘‘And then, when you have a foal, you pull your rain pants on over top.’’