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'Horses teach us an awful lot – they're like a schoolyard full of children'

Terry Doherty, manager of Watership Down Stud and 2017 employee of the year

Terry Doherty displays his employee of the year award in February
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What makes for good stud staff?
The best staff are those who have complete dedication and a love for what they are doing. They need a passion for horses. No career with animals can be just a job. It's a life, and if you don't see it like that it will never give you the rewards you are looking for.

How important are these awards?
They are amazingly important. They are an opportunity for normal hard-working people to gain due recognition, and we're very lucky to have Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin, the BHA  and the Racing Post supporting them.

What did it mean to you to be nominated?
We've nominated staff in the past, and when Simon Marsh asked if we had someone this time who merited it I flippantly replied: "Apart from me?" It wasn't meant at all seriously and I was very surprised when he told me a while later I was nominated, but it meant everything. These awards are very competitive.

If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
I'm not sure I'd change anything, as I love it as it is. I wouldn't even change the weather. We get plenty of stunning days, and to be able to walk around the countryside in parkland settings more than compensates for the miserable, head down, cold winter days.

What's the biggest challenge facing stud staff?
Learning about horses, and more particularly learning from horses. Horses teach us an awful lot. They're like a schoolyard full of children and some of them you take to and some you won't, but they're amazing animals to work with and it's incredibly rewarding.

What is the best thing about your job?
I've been with Watership Down since its inception in 1993 and the ethos has always been to buy the best mares we could, send them to the best stallions and hopefully produce quality horses, which I think we've done. We're only tiny, with 12 mares or so and usually only two or three in training, but we're extremely competitive, as you have to be, and we've produced some 38 different stakes winners, including Dar Re Mi, The Fugue and Rewilding. I get a tremendous kick when one carrying those silks [Lord Lloyd-Webber's pink, grey sash] beats a Treve or a So You Think, or another from one of the biggest breeding operations. I love lowering colours.


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Plunkett joins judging panel for Stud and Stable Staff awards


 

Horses are amazing animals to work with and it's incredibly rewarding
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