Sunday, July 1, 2007

Breeding Season Finally Gets Started at Our Small Arabian Breeding Farm Part 2

Part One

All I needed to get this Arabian mare finally bred was my crew. Dave got called into work due to an emergency and Colleen wasn't returning my phone calls. There was no way I was getting this breeding done without help. I did have fleeting thoughts about just turning the two of them out together but there was no way I would take that risk. It only takes one well placed kick to end a stallion's breeding career.

I wasn't taking any chances with Legs. He is a phenomenal breeding sire who is so prepotent I can count on him like clockwork. There is no way I would take the risk of turning him out with a mare and risk jeopardizing my breeding business anymore than it is already. Lucy would just have to wait for her Prince Charming and more controlled circumstances.

Unfortunately the mare was out of heat before I could get Dave and Colleen together to breed the mare. Legs would have to wait for one more cycle before the stallion got a chance to get up close and personal with this new mare.

Finally the beginning of June the mare looked to be coming back into heat. I first noticed the suckling colt, Andy, standing outside her stall door talking to her. The little varmint was talking sweet nothings just like the big boys and the mare wasn't protesting all that much.

I put my breeding team on alert for later in the week. Watching the mare closely over the next three days, Lucy exhibited the classic signs of a mare in heat. She was temperamental, screaming at anything that looked at her and squatting and peeing. By Wednesday evening she was rubbing her tail pretty ferociously.

Luckily, Dave had the day off the following day and so did Colleen. I couldn't believe my luck. We actually were going to get the chance to breed this mare with the extra controls I wanted in place.

When Colleen arrived Wednesday afternoon, we got our stuff for breeding all together and headed for the barn. We had two buckets of warm water and soft wash clothes to wash both horses. Cleaning the horses helps keep the chance of infection down and increases the odds of pregnancy.

While I do have breeding hobbles, I usually don't use them. My other broodmares are all very easy breeders. I had debated with using them with this mare but was afraid they might scare her and cause another set of problems so I decided against using them.

Colleen and Dave went to Lucy's stall to wash the mare's genitals and wrap her tail up out of the way. I put a halter on Leg's and got out his breeding legs wraps. I use particular wraps to protect his legs just in case a mare might kick out. The only time I use them is for breeding and Legs knows immediately what is going to happen.

Once Colleen and Dave had Lucy ready they brought her around to the front of Legs' stall so he could tease her over the partial wall. Once he was dropped, I washed him thoroughly. At the same time I paid close attention to Lucy's response to the stallion. Since the mare had never been bred live cover before, I needed to be sure she was going to co-operate. I didn't want my stallion to be injured or any of us, not to mention the mare.

Lucy looked like she was going to be quiet so I had Dave take her back off and around the corner. Then I came out of the stall with the stallion and headed up towards the breeding wall with Dave following with the mare a little ways behind.

For the purpose of breeding we have built a half wall that is 4 feet high and in the shape of an L. The post in the middle stands up higher so the mare can be secured by wrapping the lead rope around that post. The mare can hang her head and neck over the top of the wall and lean her chest up against the wall. This helps the mare support the extra weight of the stallion on her back.

The breeding wall is four feet wide both directions but I wish it was 8 feet wide on the left side and maybe a foot higher. That way we could tease the mare with the wall in between the two horses and then come around when the stallion is to mount the mare. That correction is on my list of things to do around here.

I took the stallion past the breeding wall while Dave took Lucy up to the wall and placed her in the correct position. Colleen came up with an additional line on the off side of the stallion and we approached the mare.

Legs got over exited and tried to rush the mare. We don't let Legs breed until we tell him it's OK. Part of keeping a stallion mannerly is directly related to controlling when and how he breeds. Colleen pulled Legs off balance and we circled him around and away from the mare. I was pleased to note that Lucy did not panic at the stallion rearing up over her or at us pulling him away from her.

We stood there maybe ten feet off to the mare's left until the stallion settled down and began listening to direction again. Then we approached the mare again. This time Legs was good and didn't mount until he was told. Lucy stood like a rock. You would have though she'd been breeding this way her whole breeding career. The extra lessons last fall and the time out with Legs next to her had paid off.

The breeding went off without a hitch. Lucy was happy. Legs was happy and most of all, I was happy. Breeding horses scares me. It is such an explosive, volatile event and anything can happen. Getting it over with without any complications is always a relief.

I teased the mare the next morning and she was already out of heat. Our timing had been perfect except I have noticed that breeding right before ovulation does produce a much higher percentage of colts. As usual, I'm hoping for a filly

To be continued........

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  1. Awesome post! I'll keep my fingers crossed for a filly!!

  2. And so her due date is late May? I'll mark it on my calendar.

  3. I agree, it can be a frightening experience! I'd love to see pics of your breeding wall. Glad Lucy felt comfortable with the whole situation.

    Sheep, btw, are much easier. Just turn them out and let them do their thing. No kicking or biting involved. Of course, you can't really ride them; that is a small drawback.

  4. Gosh , that is a gorgious stud! I love a bay arab. Here's hoping for a filly.

  5. Hi MiKael
    I can't believe that it has been so long since I have visited. I have just read all the posts I missed!!!!

    I am glad that the breeding went well, I agree it is worrisome and I am fortunate that my mares are all old hands and that the stud is as well behaved as yours is so I can often do it on my own, but there is always that worry. I hope that it is a filly but if she ovulated the same day you bred chances are it will be a colt. There is of course the chance that she ovulated the next day which will give a good chance for a filly so I am keeping fingers crossed!!

    I know how you feel with financial balance and am sorry you are struggling so much. My depression is very similar, a viscious circle. I also know that I need to put the time in and show my horses in order to sell them. My problem is convincing my husband that we should not breed until we sell over half of our herd (20). I finally got him to agree this year, don't know what will happen next year though. I jusst dont see the point in breeding if they arent selling and really feel we should save up and breed to a stallion that is popular rather than to one that no-one knows. That would allow me to geld our other stallion too and give him a life other than a solitary one.

    On the camera question. I am really not sure because i dont know much about the point and shoot type cameras. Some of them have nice little zoom lenses built in but I don't know if they would be sufficient to get close in to shots like you got the other day of the elk. What a lovely sight that must have been!!! I have a lot of "pictures" embedded in my mind because I didn't have my camera with me LOL. I will check some out and see if I can come up with a suggestion. Of course it would also depend on what you have available to spend.

    You are also always in my thoughts and I also miss our "chats". When you are feeling down just send thoughts my way, I promise I will probably be sending thoughts your way too. We have so many similarities in our lives.

    Keep smiling and hope we will "talk" soon. Your posts are always so educational and informative I hope that a lot of people get to read them.



  6. Only 1 foal next year... What are you going to do? I'll keep my fingers and toesies crossed for a filly! I'll do the filly dance all year for you... Wait, maybe I better now. I think my filly dance is a colt dance since I got colt... maybe I'll change my dance...

    Good luck and I will be watching for certain. :)