Sunday, February 6, 2011

The New Journey..........Then There's Breeding....

Keep in mind that the timing on many of these events is intermingled among posts. To help keep related issues together sometimes the time line has been sacrificed. While that may not always be obvious, you may know more things about BG now than I did when I made my decisions. If you find yourself wondering "how could she?" the answer is probably in that timeline. For instance the events in this post actually happened towards the beginning of the events that led to the last post so you've seen far more pieces to this puzzle that I had available when I made the choices that led to this post

Part One

From the beginning of our endeavor, it appeared there was always someone interested in my horses. Even though we hadn't sold anything yet, the amount of interest that seemed to be there suggested that wasn't far from happening.

The hard part about the breeding business is the timing. Since the horses must be grown and trained to get them sold, the decisions about when to breed are like playing futures in the stock market. You have to make the decisions to breed based on what you think is going to happen. If you wait until it actually does, you end up out of stock when you've finally built up your clientele. By the time you've built your stock back up, those interested people have moved onto horses of other breeding and you're starting over again.

With all this interest in horses, it was decided I probably should breed something. Bey Aana is Storm's mother. My rule of thumb around here has always been when I sell a foal, I rebreed the mare. Aana came here as a rescue By now the mare was twenty and I was hoping I could get her settled but not sure. Getting this mare in foal was tricky right from that first season. I decided to try but I wouldn't be able to take extraordinary measures to get her bred. I just didn't have the funds.

I also decided I was going to breed Solidare. The mare was longing to have a baby and she was getting close to the age of twenty. If I was going to let her have one more foal, it needed to be done now.

The few years prior to this MD had been the one to help me cover mares. Obviously that wasn't going to work now. Dave had helped me before that but it is really not his thing. I asked BG if he could help me and he'd responded that he could.

Bey Aana was the first mare we bred because she was the first to come into heat. Everything went like clockwork for that breeding. BG didn't seem to need direction other than my personal preferences about washing and such. Also he didn't seem to be uncomfortable with any part of the experience where many people are intimidated by the exuberance of the horses.

Wouldn't you know it Solidare came into heat just as I was leaving to manage the Morgan horse show in Monroe. That's too far away for me to come home at the end of the day to get a mare covered.

I do not take lightly the process of breeding horses in hand and I do NOT trust just anyone to handle my stallion. I asked BG if he thought he could handle Legs to get the mare bred and he told me he could. I never would have asked had I not believed that BG had experience breeding horses AND handling stallions in that process.

I figured when I left that Solidare might be ready to breed on Wednesday. BG called me that day even before he bred the mare. We went over my process and then he called me afterwards to tell me it was done. Everything had gone fine. It was noisy but simple.

Normally, I don't cover my mares more than once a cycle. I know my mares and I know when is the right time. Not being there to actually see the color of the mare's urine and her response to Legs I didn't really know if this was the right timing or not. I had to rely on BG's impressions and I didn't really know what to think so I resorted to what the vets do.

I had BG keep teasing the mare. If she was still in in three days we'd breed her again. Now I should say upfront I know most vets would breed every other day but I also know how long Legs' semen lasts so I was comfortable with stretching to that third day. If the mare wasn't out by then, I would probably breed her even though I suspect that Legs' semen would have been good for one more day. If the mare didn't settle, her next cycle would also be during a horse show when I was supposed to be in Oregon so I didn't want to miss her. That timing is the only reason I would consider another cover.

On Saturday I got another call from BG. This time it was later in the day. He told me he was angry at Legs. He'd tried to breed the mare but that Legs had been a jerk.

When I asked him for details I found out he'd been to my farm earlier and tried to breed Solidare but didn't think things had gone as planned. From what I could tell Legs' had become too engorged to penetrate and BG hadn't gotten the stallion off the mare so he had ejaculated outside her. The fact that BG hadn't been prepared for the stallion to be too excited or that he didn't know what to do when that happened, gave me pause.

BG hadn't called me to tell me about this happening, he just decided he would probably comeback later in the day and try again. When he tried to breed the mare again. Solidare, by this time, was clearly out of heat. She clamped her tail down tightly and refused Legs. BG pulled Legs down turning him towards the mare. Then Legs kicked Solidare in the hock and that is why BG was so mad at Legs.

My heart sank when I heard this. I asked BG if he had teased the mare before he tried to breed her. His response was he'd done that earlier in the day. I knew then I'd made another big mistake. BG didn't know enough about breeding in hand to be handling horses that's for sure although he'd led me to believe quite the contrary. He was mad at Legs for a wreck, as far as I'm concerned, HE had caused both by not teasing the mare before he tried to cover her and the way he'd pulled Legs away from the mare.

If you know anything about doing in hand live cover with horses you know you NEVER turn a stallion away from a mare NOR do you get the stallion directly behind the mare as a way to exit. You want to keep those horses out of kicking range of each other at all cost.

I always pull Legs directly off the side of the mare parallel to her. Then I back him out of that area either can kick before I turn him away from the mare. Staying to the side the mare shouldn't be able to kick him either and both horses are protected.

Legs is normally really gentle with the mares BUT he was set up right from the start. He had no way of knowing the mare wasn't in heat. Had he been allowed to tease the mare first he would have known not to even get excited, let alone mount her and believe me Legs does take NO from a mare. While the stallion will continue to talk to a mare that is not in heat he will do it more quietly in what is an affectionate manner and not an excited one. He's one smart horse when it comes to women of the equine persuasion.

In this situation he kicked out in frustration which most stallions would have done. The horse has never had this experience before from one of his mares. The end result. well, my already crippled mare got kicked in the hock. While her hock did not look injured at the time, that is the hock that deteriorated and caused her death.

At the time this happened, I was livid but I really didn't know what to say. Until I got home and inspected my mare for injury, I just said nothing. When it looked like the only damage that was done was a couple of scrapes along the mares back (which I'm still trying to figure out) I decided I would say nothing more than to explain to BG how he should have handled the situation.

It was not until after the mare was dead and I had a diagnosis on the condition her back legs that I had any confirmation of what I had worried about from the time of this breeding. Am I saying that BG is responsible for the further deterioration of that left hock that eventually resulted in the mare's death? I don't really know. Is it possible? You're darn right it is. Is it likely? Probably so.

Any stress or trauma to that already compromised hock could have caused the deterioration we saw. The tendon in that hock is known to migrate as a result of illness or trauma. With the tendons in both legs already being migrated from the original issue, the likelihood that an incident like a kick to the hock could have increased the amount of damage is quite high. This incident is the only stressor to that hock that we know of that wasn't experienced by the other hock as well. The right hock did not deteriorate during this pregnancy. Only the left one did.

Granted Legs is the one that kicked Solidare but if BG had teased the mare as he had been instructed to do before he tried to breed her, neither Legs or Solidare would have been at risk. If the kick is responsible for the deterioration of that hock, then BG did, indeed, have a role in the death of my mare.

If I did anything to contribute to the death of my beloved mare, it was believing BG could do what he said. A mistake which I will most probably always regret more than ANY of these other things that happened in my dealings with BG.

To be continued.......................

Showing in Region 4


  1. I have never actually done breeding so I don't know exactly what is expected. My guess is that BG has a big ego and says he knows more than he does. Legs wasn't at fault for kicking Solidare, he was excited and a stallion. That's common sense.

    In my uneducated opinion I would say BG had a huge part in your mare's death. The kick most likely contributed to her failing and if he had done things correctly she may have had more time with you. She was a beautiful girl.

  2. That is so sad, my heart is broken. . . .
    Solidare. . . .

  3. I know nothing about horse breeding in hand but it's reasonable that Legs wasn't as much at fault as BG for the problems that day. Legs was only doing what horses do. It must be terrible to realize that this was a contributing factor in Solidare's death, however. Does BG know? I wonder what he thinks about it?

  4. What a sad story. I know so little about live breeding--your blog post was the most I've ever read about it. Who is the picture of at the top of the post?

  5. How sad for everyone, but I'm less likely to feel for BG since he called Legs a jerk instead of taking responsibility. It is sounding as if he had an inflated self-image and just tried to appear as if he were an expert in areas where he needed more education.

  6. I agree with Grey horse ,BG,obviously talked a good game , and as an assistant was adequate ,I suspect his ego spoke for him in that he thought he cpould do it after watching you handle Legs. That is a funny sifde effect of having your stallion working well and easy to handle for you . Others assume if it goes smoothly for you ,it would be a piece of cake for them,. Not reasiling the subtleties involved .Just because you make it look easy...

  7. Arlene, I would say that your observations about BG are correct and I agree with you that the kick most likely contributed to the mare's demise.

    dinkleberries, mine too. It breaks every day for her.

    FV, I'm not sure what it is you're asking if BG knows. He knows that Solidare is gone. Other than that I have not spoken to BG or WF since the last day we worked horses together.

    If you're wondering if he might take responsibility, he didn't even take responsbility for the kick at the time. I doubt the results of the injury would change that.

    Linda, I have done other posts about breeding particularly when we first taught Legs how to breed in hand. While it was a nerve racking time, the story is quite humurous.

    That picture would be Solidare.

    NuzzMuzz,I think your impression of BG is quite accurate.

    fern, I imagine you are right. Althought personally I don't know why anyone would agree to do such a task without experience. I know I wouldn't. I only do it because I must. Breeding is dangerous business and not for the faint of heart, I might add. I am not looking forward teaching Rhet how to breed. Although I do wish I was in the position to do so this year before he gets much bigger.

  8. Oh I agree, I wouldn't take the task lightly either , but people are strange at times.I hesitated mightily when asked to handle my SIL's warmblood stallion a couple years ago, not because I don't have experience ,but because I do, and I am well arare of the pitfalls. All said and done , he is a lovely horse and it went well,but...
    I think it is often an ego thing with people like BG "anything you can do ,I can do better"

  9. fern, I suspect you are right that it was his ego. There will plenty more of that before this story is over.

  10. Oh my goodness, she was so beautiful.

  11. smazourek, thanks, me too.

    Linda, yes, Solidare was an exquisite horse.

  12. She was a beauty. You indicated she was a rescue. Have you told her story in an earlier post? If so I've probably read it but my memory escapes me.

  13. Ignore earlier comment. I went back and found the link. Duh.

  14. Oh my!
    Was this breeding responsibility that BG took on, also agreed upon early on during the pre-purchase agreement of Storm?

    Or did you pay him separately for his breeding services?

    I hope he didn't overcharge you for his services, since he obviously wasn't experienced to carry them out.


  15. Ms Marty, Solidare was not officially a rescue altough she was certainly in that kind of condition when I bought her. Guess I should put the link of to that part of her story as well.

    The rescue I referred to was Bey Aana and that is the link that was provided. Sorry I pushed the publish button on your second comment so I guess we've both had a "DUH" moment this morning.

    I will locate the beginning of Solidare's story and post the link sometime today. It is my belief that her condition at that first breeding is what led down this long road.

  16. I've been trained how to do in-hand breeding and have participated as a mare handler. But I don't think I'd necessarily agree to handle a stallion without his normal handler present on the first time I'm handling him. I might agree to handle a stallion with the owner present once or twice.

    Sounds like it was his arrogance combined with his lack of actual horse intellect (mugwump calls it 'horsai') that caused the problems.

    Not to derail things (I'm dying to know the rest of the story) but how is Storm doing? Have you gotten any more rides in on him?

  17. Lisa, thanks for bringing that up. I forgot to add that information. Breeding services were not a part of the original contract. Everything that was, I stated in that post. The only change to that was the "death" clause.

    However, at the time I asked BG for his help, I talked to him about payment. He declined any payment, once again, saying we were friends helping friends and that was all that mattered.

  18. Laura, you make a good point. Had it not been for the fact that BG was doing groundwork with Legs so they had a relationship established, I never would have considered asking for him to cover the mare without me present. I guess I thought Legs had enough respect for BG that nothing bad would happen. It just never occurred to me that BG would not tease the mare before he tried to cover her.

    Thanks for asking about Storm. I am getting a little bit of riding in on him. I am actually writing up posts on the process as we go. I will run that series right after this series is complete. He is a good boy and he is trying hard but he has a lot to overcome.

    I think as this series evolves and my discoveries of BG's deficiencies in training, as well as his practices are revealed, the basis for Storm's issues will be moe obvious so I think following up with what I'm doing to fix it will make more sense at that time.

    In the meantime, I don't know if he'll make the show ring this year. It is still too early and I don't think I have thirty days total on him. I do think we are making really good progress, however, and he's finally returned to his mostly predictable self. He does still throw a temper tantrum occassionaly when asked to do something difficult but they are less dangerous than they were.

  19. Sheesh. Just catching up on the last few posts...

    BG just doesn't sound like anyone on the up and up. Surrounding himself with kids? Maybe because they or their parents won't question his methods or abilities and take it all as gospel... That's my take on it.

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your mare. That just sucks! Breeding in hand is an adventure at times. Yes the horses can all behave and when treated fairly and squarely, (as it sounds Leggs was/is) it often goes off without a hitch or a stitch.

    Generally speaking the stallions are going for one thing and one thing only- the mares? All bets are off. They either want it or don't and there's no forcing anything. When it all goes south, it does it in a flash and you can only hope others around you have the sense enough to try to keep everyone else safe, not just themselves.

  20. So sad Mikael. So unnecessary. I don't know squat about breeding other then what I saw back at the first stable I boarded at. We had a teaser pony that they always used before breeding, NEVER tried without it. Again, I am so sorry this happened!!

  21. Yikes! Makes frozen semen sound really, really good. Dare I say, I bet you are present for your breedings since that incident? Sounds like you didn't have tons of options with your shows on that one though. What a shame. Poor Solidare.... :( I'm so sorry..