Horses have always been a big part of Holly Ross' life, and now the ex-Whangarei Girls' High School student is set to be a big part of theirs.
Ross has been awarded a scholarship through the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association which will help her to learn more about breeding horses.
The 23-year-old said she got into horse breeding by accident thanks to a summer job she went for.
"I've always been interested in horses and had them around when I was growing up," said Ross. "During my first year of university I saw a job advertised over summer for yearling prep at The Oaks Stud and thought I would enjoy it. This was my first experience with thoroughbreds and I absolutely loved it."
Ross will spend around eight months working overseas at Cheveley Park in England, and Coolmore in Ireland for the Northern Hemisphere breeding season. She will also head to America to prepare yearlings for different sales around Kentucky.
"It's [the scholarship] sort of like work experience. In the 10 weeks you go and experience how they [Northern Hemisphere breeders] do it and how it's different to New Zealand.
"I am very excited about the chance to visit three of the world's most renowned and successful thoroughbred operations. [But] I am also looking forward to attending some great race meetings, meeting new people and experiencing the culture of the three countries."
Ross applied for the scholarship because she thought it would be a good stepping stone in her career as a breeder.
"I have a very open mind towards ideas for the future. At the moment I am enjoying working hands on but would like to end up in a management position.
"I am extremely grateful for everyone that has helped with my career so far. I've had a great deal of support from the team at Cambridge Stud and learned so much recently during my time at Arrowfield. I am very lucky to be given this opportunity and will definitely make the most of it."
Ross is currently employed at Arrowfield Stud in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales as their assistant broodmare manager.
Ross will be returning to New Zealand, and Whangarei, over summer where she plans on visiting friends and relaxing before heading to England at the end of February for the first stage of her scholarship.
To follow Ross's journey go to www.nzthoroughbred.co.nz