Imelda’s pas­sion­ate about her ‘ba­bies’

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Waikato Times - - NEWS - JO LINES-MACKEN­ZIE

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.’’

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