There are a number of the Varsfontein Stud grooms participating in the EQASA grooms training courses which are organised by Samantha Sharkey. The technical training (equine training) is headed up by Kate Hurst and she is assisted by Aneke Bennett and Kabelo Nkoane. The business skills training is presented by Samantha herself which is written specifically with a stud farm business in mind. The Cape Breeders Club kindly sponsor all the grooms from Thoroughbred stud farms who participate in these courses. The stallion service auction proceeds allow the Cape Breeders Club to fund such projects.
The subjects covered in the first 3 levels are in line with the EQASA curriculum as set out on their website. However, for the purpose of the grooms EQASA adjusted the set syllabus for module 4 to focus more on stud management, and subjects that the grooms have done at level 4 are: Remedial Behaviour Techniques, Conformation & Movement, Establish & Maintain Grazing, Assist a mare to foal, Assess the breeding methods of a horse, Supervise stud farm horse care, Prepare & Hold a mare for service and Equine reproduction & gestation.
Examples of other subjects covered in the lower levels are: Blankets, Boots and tack, Grooming, Yard Management, Travel & Trucking, Health care, Nutrition, Basic business skills, Computer literacy, Maths literacy, life skills etc.
There are a total of 8 Varsfontein grooms who have completed level 1. Of those there are two who have recently completed level 2, Headley Alexander and Justin Antonie. We are very proud of our two top performing employees who have reached the pinnacle stage by completing both level 3 and 4 as well. They are Frikkie Simons and Furdy Swartbooi. At this stage level 4 is the highest accomplishment in this course. However, they have an inaugural level 5 course planned for December 2019. Before being allowed to participate in level 5 the level 4 graduates must complete a business management/leadership development course presented by SIMS Khula. In order to be eligible for level 5 the grooms will need to pass this course, as the program aims to develope leaders and managers and not just focus on technical skills development.
When discussing the courses with our grooms it is clear how enjoyable they find them and there is a keeness to continue learning and progress to higher levels. Furdy Swartbooi explains how the training has given him a deeper knowledge and understanding of the care of the horses as well as the running of the stud from both a management and financial point of view.
Varsfontein Stud would like to express our gratitude to Samantha Sharkey, Kate Hurst, The Cape Breeders Club and EQASA for assisting us in furthering the education and skills of our employees in the Thoroughbred industry.