The Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation was set up two years ago by family and close friends in memory of Gerry Dilger. Gerry was a very successful breeder and pinhooker of many top horses, including consecutive GI Kentucky Derby winners Nyquist (Uncle Mo) and Always Dreaming (Bodemeister). More than his equine triumphs, Gerry was a mentor to so many young people through his Dromoland Farm, where he nurtured and assisted them as they commenced their careers in the bloodstock business. In recognition of this, the Foundation was established to grant scholarships to deserving young people with some great help from the Irish National Stud, Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI), Springhouse Farm, Lane's End Farm, University of Limerick, University College Dublin, and the University of Kentucky.
Several scholarships have been awarded to assist in tuition, flights, and visas. Two recipients, Gemma Blumenshine and Roisin Whelan, enjoyed scholarships at the Irish National Stud in 2022 and penned blogs (shown below) detailing their experiences at the famous Kildare nursery.
“My family and I are very proud of the accomplishments of all the scholarship recipients, including Gemma and Roisin,” said Erin Dilger, Gerry's wife. “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks for all the donations and support we have received from so many individuals and farms worldwide. There will be several new scholarships awarded for 2023 and we are also pleased to announce that the inaugural Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament and Auction will be held at Houston Oaks [near Paris, Ky.] on Oct. 10.”
Roisin Whelan's Blog
As the end of June approaches, it is time to reflect on the last six months and my experience of the Irish National Stud Course. I was filled with excitement and delight when it was announced that I had been accepted onto this prestigious course and was honored to have been awarded a scholarship from the Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation.
The hands-on aspect of the course comprehensively covered the day-to-day workings of a stud farm, from foaling, to mares and foals, to stallions, we did it all!
One of the highlights of this had to be getting up close and personal with Invincible Spirit (Ire) (Green Desert), who at 25-years-old, still displays the energy and athleticism befitting a stallion of his reputation. I also greatly enjoyed my time spent on night-foaling duty, during which I assisted in bringing 14 foals into the world; surely there must be a champion or two amongst them!
We were provided with lots of educational and interesting lectures, most noteworthy were those of Cathal Beale, CEO of the stud, whose progressive views on the subject of equine business were refreshing and engaging to all the students. With all our assignments handed in and exams complete, it is difficult not to feel bittersweet about the whole experience. We won't miss the homework, but we will miss the people.
In January, all 30 of us were thrown into the deep end when introduced to fellow students with whom we would work, study, eat, sleep, and live with for the duration of the course. The fun we had and the memories made will last us all a lifetime. I am fortunate to have been part of such a fantastic, varied bunch of young people, within which I have made friends for life and can't wait to watch as we all grow and forge careers for ourselves within the industry.
I was extremely lucky to have had Gemma Blumenshine, fellow Dilger Scholarship recipient, as a roommate, as her infectious personality brought me great entertainment over our time together.
Once again, I would like to say a massive thank you to the Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation and to the Dilger family for supporting me on this journey. I am massively excited to continue my career and the next step is Springhouse Farm in Kentucky to get a taste of life in America. Onwards and Upwards! '
Gemma Blumenshine's Blog
In the fall of 2021, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the Gerry Dilger Equine Foundation Scholarship in partnership with KEMI. The scholarship was to send one KEMI intern to participate in the Irish National Stud breeding management program for six months in Kildare, Ireland. It is an honor to be chosen to attend this prestigious program which is now also certified by IT Carlow so the interns also gain university accreditation. In the last six months, I have traveled, visited other farms, seen multiple race tracks, attended daily classes, and worked alongside my 29 fellow interns. The work we have done on the farm has varied throughout the breeding season. I have been able to work with the stallions in the breeding shed, help mares give birth to their new foals on night shifts, and care for growing foals. I have absolutely expanded my skill set and learned so much more about the Thoroughbred industry. The best part for me has been learning about the industry on the European side and learning different ways to do things and especially learning from my peers and their individual experiences.
My view and experience of this industry have been very broadened through the six months on this course and I am so glad I got this opportunity. Throughout this season we foaled 319 mares which is the highest number the Irish National Stud has foaled to date and we learned so much through caring for that high volume. As the season comes to a close, we are going on more field trips to other farms and racing yards as well as taking our final exams and submitting final projects. Our exams span over the many topics we have covered in classes these last few months and are the marker of our time here coming to an end. It has been so rewarding to care for the pregnant mares and help them give birth to watching their foals grow up and become independent. You build such connections with each of the horses as you rotate through each of the yards on the farm and get to work with every single horse. I would not have gotten to participate in any of this if it were not for the Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation and I am forever grateful for one of the best experiences of my life.
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