Career spotlight: Travelling horses by boat

  • Bloodstock assistant manager Anne-Lise Riis Jensen recalls her sea voyage to Barbados with the filly, Colour Purple


    Get up to feed Colour Purple. The filly has eaten everything and is feeling OK; her temperature is normal and I am glad to see plenty of droppings. I am no longer feeling seasick and will be able to eat my breakfast. The sickness only lasted one day. The crew of 20 has made me feel welcome on boardthe Solent Star. The captain is from India and the crew from the Philippines.


    Muck out the stall Colour Purple is occupying. It is a container divided into three, so I have room for hay and feed. I don’t think I will beable to use the shaving fork that I was advised to take. The stall is padded on three sides and I would end up digging her in the ribs. A quick groom but she is not keen to have her feet picked up; perhaps she hasn’t found her sea legs yet either. Give her more hay.


    Have been invited up to the bridge to see how they steer the ship. Everything is computerised and there are even graphs showing the contour of the seabed. Apparently, we have just sailed over a mountain. The radar is scanning for 24 miles and there is not another ship to be seen. I have a quick look at the map. We have just left the southern tip of Portugal. Are we there yet?


    Lunch. Check on the filly – she is having a sleep. I get fed three very good meals a day. Lots of fish and rice, but served in several delicious variations. Today was whole crab. I eat in the mess with the officers and, after lunch, I have a chat with Captain Lasrado.


    Spend time on deck with Colour Purple, sitting on a bale of shavings. She is surrounded by engine noise and the fans from the refrigerated containers, but she is really relaxed. I have made her some toys to keep her occupied until it’s time for more hay. She has also found out which pocket I keep the mints in. She tries to grab some while I have my nose buried in textbooks.


    Go out to the front of the ship. It is so different here, so quiet. All you can hear is the ship cutting through the water. Perhaps I will get more reading done. Maybe not – it is fascinating watching the horizon, spotting a few albatross and flying fish.


    Check the filly before it is time for dinner. The captain points out some dolphins in the distance. Tonight there is a small party to welcome on board some new crew members who joined us in Le Havre. A roasted pig is being cooked. There is plenty of beer, wine and whiskey and soon the karaoke machine is on. I slip out to feed the filly.


    Time for bed, just one last look at Colour Purple. She is fine, so I close up her container for the night, leaving one end open as it is getting warmer every day. I head for my cabin. The clock has gone back an hour and will do so every other day to avoid the 5hr time difference when we get to Barbados.

    About Anne-Lise Riis Jensen

    Anne-Lise Riis Jensen was born in Denmark and moved to England in 1987. She has worked at Waresley Park Stud in Bedfordshire, Littleton Stud in Winchester and was, until last October, employed at The National Stud in Newmarket as assistant manager.

    She is currently studying for a Masters degree in equine business management at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and works part-time at The Elms Stud, Northampton.

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