Know Your Breeding Contract

    Understanding a stallion contract and its corresponding fees.

    Know Your Breeding Contract Know Your Breeding Contract

    The Wave

    Real Life Rodeo Queen Secret Number Six.

    The Wave The Wave

    A Pregnancy Story

    Follow that follicle!

    A Pregnancy Story A Pregnancy Story

    Understanding Estrus on Ultrasound

    The second installment in our ultrasounding series.

    Understanding Estrus on Ultrasound Understanding Estrus on Ultrasound

    Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

    In this installment, we look at the anatomy of an ultrasound machine and of a mare.

    Ultrasounding 101 (Part One) Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

    Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash

    The 2015 Alberta Horse Industry Distinguished Service Award Winner.

    Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash Peer Recognition - Dr. Wayne Burwash

Know Your Breeding Contract


Planning for a foal is exciting. Yet, the road to putting four tiny hooves on the ground requires more than 12 months of advance planning. There’s a proper mating to consider, paperwork to read through and a budget to stick to: Unless you prefer unexpected, financial losses.

As mare owner, you will have certain expectations when you enter into a breeding agreement with a stallion owner or manager. If your contract does not adequately address your concerns, it is your responsibility to understand what your contract states, before signing it. Specifically, you should understand your fees and which of them may or may not be refundable. And always remember, any services performed by a veterinarian are not included in the set of fees seen on a breeding contract. Veterinarian fees are in addition to a stallion agreement.

Whether you work with a veterinarian or breeding facility to get your mare in foal, Canadians in particular, should research what the contract says about procedures that must be followed to order shipped semen. For example, does a particular stallion require same-day delivery? What happens if the stallion owner receives numerous requests for shipped semen on the same day and cannot honor them all? Further to this notion, it’s wise for mare owners to understand what happens with fees paid if the stallion (or mare for that matter), is sold before the contract is complete.

Mare owners should also pay attention to the stallion’s breeding season duration and know the last day he is available for service. And if the mare is not confirmed pregnant prior to the end of the season, know how many breeding seasons you will be able to keep trying to breed your mare.

Breeding contracts are usually also very specific regarding what type and when, pregnancy checks are required. Some contracts will even state who must perform a check and the type of documentation that must be submitted to the breeder. Breeding soundness can be an entirely different frustration so it’s best to understand what your worst case scenario is, before entering into an agreement.

And beyond all of the above, breeding contract foal assurances are another important aspect to consider, prior to first stage labour. Many breeding contracts will often ease a mare owner’s mind with the promise of a Live Foal Guarantee. Often a live foal is defined as a foal that stands and nurses. However, keep in mind that just because a foal can get to its feet and take a drink, does not necessarily mean it is a healthy baby. Say for instance, you have bred a Paint to a Paint stallion – does your contract consider the possibility of lethal white syndrome?

Lastly, mare owners must fully understand what state or province’s law will apply, and where parties must bring a claim, should one occur. Just because a semen shipment is sent to Canada, does not mean the Canadian justice system can defend a mare owner in the event a breeding contract is not carried to completion.

And while a breeding agreement may seem daunting to begin with, the end result of a beautiful foal is worth every worry. Enter into the contract knowing the real cost of breeding your mare will be more than simply just the stud fee and all parties involved will consequently have a better, working relationship.

Frozen semen tanks.

Frozen semen tanks.

Common Terms & Definitions of a Breeding Contract:

• Parties of the Contract – The names of the owners of both the mare and stallion should begin the contract. This section should include the address and phone numbers for both parties.
Stallion – The stud must be clearly identified, including his registration number(s). His location must also be specified, in addition to the season year he will be standing there.
Stud Fee – This one-time fee is for the stallion’s services. Some fees are required in full prior to shipping semen or insemination of a mare. Other stallion owners/managers may request only part of the stud fee, with the balance remaining to be paid in full once the mare is confirmed pregnant. *Price range for western performance stallions can be anywhere from $250 to a private treaty.

• Booking Fee – This fee is charged to reserve a place for your mare in the breeding schedule. Usually, the booking fee is non-refundable and due at the time you enter into the breeding contract. May be included, or in addition to, the stud fee, so read your contract carefully.  *Price range $100-$5,000.
Farm Fee – This fee goes straight to the stallion station or farm responsible for standing the stallion. It can cover the service of collecting the stud and preparing the semen for shipment, or insemination. This is not a common fee on stallion contracts. *Price range $100-$800.
Chute Fee – This fee is for mares that are on site for breeding and to cover the costs and time of teasing or watching her heat cycles. This fee should always be for “on farm” breedings only. *Price range $100-$600.
Semen Shipping Deposits and Fees – Equitainers or specialized containers required to ship semen are expensive pieces of equipment and therefore, many stallion owners require a deposit on them before they will ship the container out. However, this fee is usually refundable if the container is returned in a timely manner and in the same shape it was sent in. This fee may or may not also include courier services *Price range $50-$500.
Shipping Fee – This is commonly a collection and processing fee for the stallion station. Do not confuse it with a semen shipping fee as sometimes, they are two different fees. Some stallion stations may charge a shipping fee and then send a shipment collect. Although these fees will likely be outlined in your contract, they may be confusing at first. It is recommended to speak with the stallion station to go over all fees to prevent surprises. *Price range $50-$450.
Collection Fee – The stallion station or manager may charge a fee every time the stallion is collected to be shipped to the mare. Often the first shipment is included in the breeding fee, with additional shipments at a specific cost. Review your contract for details. *Price range – $75 to $400.
Handling Fee – In addition to the collection fee, a fee for the handling per collection is charged by the stallion owner to the mare owner. This fee is non-refundable and sometimes is blended in with a farm fee or a semen shipping fee. * Price range $75-$150.

Happy breeding season!

Happy breeding season!

The Wave


Real Life Rodeo Queen Secret Number 6:

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do “the wave”.

Often the subject of jokes and criticism as seen by Corban Livingston’s hilarious interpretation, our wave is a symbol that is uniquely “Rodeo Queen”.

Like many aspects of the rodeo queen world our wave is derived from tradition. The rodeo queen wave has evolved overtime and can be different from country to country, and even have vastly different styles between states.

In Canada, most queens wave with what is sometimes referred to as a “wax on, wax off” fashion, using your elbow as a pivot point you smoothly wave your hand from side to side.

Many Miss Rodeo America’s wave with just their hands, keeping the elbow locked and rotating the hand in front of you. Miss Rodeo American 2015, Lauren Heaton says, “We’ve always been taught to make ours really casual and natural, like waving at a neighbor. The way American rodeo queens see it, it’s our way to interact with the audience and be personable and inviting.”

I spoke with Danika Boland, Miss Rodeo Australia 2015, who I will be visiting in the fall and she said “There isn’t really a specific way we have to wave it’s more personal style. I personally wave mid way between front and side so if you where looking straight ahead at a clock my arm would be at 2,3 o’clock and then just give a gentle wave with a little but of arm movement. Sometimes I change it up midway and mix in a little open shut hand wave. Wow sounds so strange trying to explain it!”

I’ve also seen variations with less or more arm movement, sometimes very fluid motions, and even a salute. There’s also different waves for different occasions, waves for riding fast, riding slow, sitting on a stationary horse, or standing on foot.

Anyway you do it, a rodeo queen’s wave is a powerful thing. It’s what welcomes the crowd to the rodeo during the grand entry, it’s what gets young girls on their feet pointing for mommy and daddy to look at the pretty princess on horseback, and I know it’s the image that helped inspire me all those years ago to become the rodeo queen I am today.

Plus, we’d look pretty lackluster riding around the arena with our free hand at our side! So Corban Livingston, thank you for making sure our waves are at an acceptable standard!

A Pregnancy Story

From a tiny embryo to...

From a tiny embryo to a darling little foal at their mother’s side. Photo by Jenn Webster.


With breeding season upon us, My Stable Life has dove into the world of equine reproduction and taken an inside look at some of the specifics of ultrasounding mares. If you missed the first two blogs you can catch them here: Ultrasounding 101 and Understanding Estrus on Ultrasound. In this final ultrasounding post, we will take a look at a typical equine pregnancy and follow a follicle along in normal breeding development.

Age of the embryo: Day 0.
What is happening: Day of ovulation.
Image on Ultrasound: A CL is seen on the ovary. Uterine edema is resolved. This can
best be determined by following follicular development through the estrus period.


Day 14 of pregnancy.

Day 14 of pregnancy.

Age of the embryo: Day 14 of a pregnancy.
What is happening: Early detection of an embryo can be determined at 11 to 15 days.
Most vets prefer to check at Day 14, since an early detection of twins is extremely
important for the health of the mare. If twins are present, both vesicles are visible at Day
14. At this time they are still highly mobile within the uterus, allowing manual reduction
of one twin to be possible.
Image on Ultrasound: The embryonic vesicle is seen as a spherical black structure
approximately 14-15 mm in diameter. The yolk sac is highly visible and the embryo is
highly mobile in the uterine lumen and can found anywhere in one of the uterine horns
or the body. The mareʼs uterus is tightly toned.


Day 16 of pregnancy.

Day 16 of pregnancy.

Age of the embryo: Day 16 of a pregnancy.
What is happening: Fixation of the embryo at the base of the uterine horn.
Image on Ultrasound: The black spherical shape has grown in size and has implanted
itself at the base of the uterine horn. A healthy pregnancy would not indicate the
presence of any fluid, edema or cysts in the uterus.


Day 28 of pregnancy.

Day 28 of pregnancy.

Age of the embryo: Day 28 of a pregnancy.
What is happening: A healthy embryo is developing. Detection of a heartbeart can be
done as early as Day 22, as a fluttering movement within the echogenic mass of the
embryo. The developing allantois can also be determined at Day 24.
Image on Ultrasound: At Day 28, the allantoic sac occupies 50 per cent of the vesicle
and the embryo is located in the middle of the embryonic vesicle. A visible membrane
separates the yolk sac (top) and the allantoic sac (bottom).


Day 42

Day 42 of pregnancy.

Age of the embryo: Day 42 of a pregnancy.
What is happening: From Day 42 to 48, the fetus descends.
Image on Ultrasound: The fetus begins to descend back to the ventral (underside) part
of the vesicle, hanging from the umbilical pole attached at the dorsal (upper side) aspect
of the vesicle. The yolk sac is now enclosed in the umbilical cord and can sometimes be
seen as a black structure. On Day 48, the fetus is on the floor of the vesicle and the
umbilical cord can be seen hanging from the top.


Twin equine embryos, as seen on ultrasound at Day 14.

Twin equine embryos, as seen on ultrasound at Day 14.

According to the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine and the
Department of Reproduction, only nine per cent of mares with twin embryos will carry
both foals to term. Of the rest, 60 per cent will deliver one live foal and 31 per cent will
lose both pregnancies. This is simply due to the fact that the mareʼs placenta is not
designed to support twin pregnancies and combined with the birth weight of the twins, if
carried to term, twins rarely exceed the normal birth weight of a single foal.

This is why, an ultrasound at Day 14 to determine twinning is very important, prior to
implantation of the embryo(s) at the base of the uterine horn. If your vet determines that
twins are present, he or she may choose to leave the mare for a few days (only up to
Day 19 at the latest), to see if one vesicle regresses on its own. This is something that
may require daily ultrasounds to monitor.

If the vesicle does not resolve naturally, your vet will likely rupture one of the vesicles
transrectally between their finger and thumb, or with the use of a transducer by trapping
it at the top of the horn. Manual rupture of one vesicle is highly effective if the twins are
fixed bilaterally. Unilateral fixation is much more difficult.

After Day 25, correction of twins is increasingly difficult and abortion of both twins may
be necessary to ensure the health of the mare.

Ultrasonography has gained wide acceptance and is a very beneficial tool in equine
reproduction. While the facts in this article have mostly detailed an ideal pregnancy,
ultrasound imaging can also be very beneficial for monitoring ovarian and uterine
abnormalities and pathology. Some machines can additionally be used for fetal sexing
at Day 60 of a pregnancy.

Thank-you to Dr. Tammi Roalstad of Scottsdale, AZ, for providing the ultrasound images and information used in this article.

Understanding Estrus on Ultrasound


If you caught last week’s post on My Stable Life, I began a series about ultrasounding mares. I find the procedure fascinating and I’m always intrigued to learn more when our mares go into the vet clinic for breeding season. If you’d like to see that first post, click here. Today, I’m going to help […]

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Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

An ultrasound machine. Pic by Jenn Webster

‘Tis the season! Breeding season is once again upon us and whatever your plans may be this year, it never hurts to brush up on a little equine reproduction education before making those vet appointments for your mare. And speaking of which – during a routine ultrasound examination of your mare, have you ever felt […]

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Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash


On January 10, 2015, at the 33rd annual Horse Breeders and Owners Conference, the Horse Industry Association of Alberta (HIAA) proudly presented the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Wayne Burwash in recognition of his lasting influence and contributions to the equine industry in the province. Dr. Burwash grew up on a mixed dairy farm in Balzac, […]

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January/February Sneak Peek


The first of our 2015 issues is on newsstands now. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in it. (If you’re not a subscriber, you’re really missing out – subscribe here, and in the meantime look for it on your local newsstand.) As you can get from our cover, trainer Martin Black captured our attention for this issue. Jenn […]

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Real Life Rodeo Queen Secret #5


Life’s too short for flat hair. I was recently asked by a Western Horse Review fan, “What is the deal with the hair?” She wondered why she’d never seen a queen with straight hair and why on earth do the curls have to be so big? She even joked about the greenhouse gas emissions from […]

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Growing the Horse Industry

This school assignment I recently stumbled upon from my Grade Two year could have almost been a time capsule letter to myself.

After a visit to my mother’s this week, I stumbled upon something that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. My mom – a lady known for her inability to throw anything away that might have sentimental value – had kept the above paper assignment I had written in Grade Two. Of course, I didn’t remember […]

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