Colt Starting for A Great Cause

The Okotoks Agricultural Society will play host to a special event this Sunday, March 19, as a one-day colt starting demonstration will be conducted by Alex Alves (Bassano, AB) and Nick Baer (Olds, AB) – all in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

All proceeds generated from the event will be donated directly to the hospital. This includes ticket sales, donations and any other funds raised.

 

“This is something we have been planning for quite some time and are very excited to finally announce the details!” says Sonja Alves, one of the main coordinators of the day. The doors will open at 10 am with the first demo starting at 10:30. March 19 will be an excellent opportunity to come and watch two horse trainers demonstrate their techniques and support a great cause.

Farrier Chad Lausen will also conduct a horseshoeing demo, while JR’s Hat will be offering hat cleanings or re-shapings for a donation to the cause!

Alex Alves at the Saskatchewan Agribition, Trainer’s Challenge.

 

 

Alex Alves operates Hat Creek Performance Horses near the town of Bassano, Alberta. Growing up in the horse industry allowed Alves to develop as a horseman through the many disciplines he either competed or worked in, ranging from hunter jumpers, to western and English pleasure, track and polo horses, and rope horses. Every discipline taught him something valuable. Along with every horse. Today, Alves starts young horses on the right track for any discipline and finishes them to a focus in roping, cutting, or cow horse.

Nick Baer operates Running Bar N Horsemanship and is currently a student at Olds College, studying for his advanced farrier sciences. Baer began learning at a young age about how to start his own horses and has dedicated himself to better horsemanship. Learning his techniques from horseman Doug Mills and Bob Kaufmann he began furthering himself. His dedication has shown at competitions at the Daines Ranch and Rocking Heart Ranch. Baer himself has spent many hours in the Alberta Children’s Hospital as he was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at a very early age. He lives every day with a insulin pump and is excited to have a chance to give back.

Chad Lausen is a graduate of the Olds College Advanced Farrier Sciences program and operates his business out of Strathmore, AB, currently. Lausen has earned the reputation as being extremely hard-working, with a dedication to the horse. He likes to continuously improve his skill set. Lausen also consistently represents Alberta and Canada on the world stage at farrier and blacksmith competitions across North America, as a past team member of the Western Canadian Farriers team and as an individual. This year Lausen will once again represent Alberta at the World Championships of Blacksmithing in Madison, Wisconsin.

The use of two fillies have graciously been donated for the day by Rocking Heart Ranch.

 

Doors will open at 10am with the first demo starting at 10:30. Minimum donations/admission of $10 will be collected at the door.

 

Contact Alex Alves at 1-403-909-5664 for more information.

Sleepy Cat

sleepy-cat-pic-web

BY JENN WEBSTER (Archive from 2005 Western Horse Breeders Guide, presented by Western Horse Review)

He was a dun-colored paragon 
of athleticism, beauty and charm, and was single-handedly credited for “…bringing back the Quarter Horse industry to life in Alberta,” as stated by a yellowed Calgary, November 28, 1959, newspaper archive of The Herald Magazine.

*
Foaled in 1938 in Colorado, Sleepy Cat was imported by brothers Jac and Allie Streeter of Stavely, Alberta in March of 1942. According to the first edition of The Butte Stands Guard, a historical book from the Stavely, Alberta area, this stallion was the first ever, registered Quarter Horse in Canada. There’s no doubt that following his importation into the country, Sleepy Cat clearly played a significant role in the Canadian Quarter Horse industry. In fact, The Herald Magazine went so far as to praise this influential Canadian sire for the probability that one day he would likely “…take the same position as Old Sorrel holds in the Quarter Horse story in the United States.”

*
Sleepy Cat was a versatile stallion 
who bore the American Quarter Horse Association registration number 620. He was a son of Red Dog (AQHA #55) by Ballamooney, and out of Fatima (AQHA #58), by Old Sheik. Sleepy Cat’s lineage traces back to the immortal beginnings of the AQHA and some of the most famous names in the blue book of Quarter Horses. Through circumstances, he is also linked to the original forefathers of the association – the gentlemen who first brought the AQHA registry to fruition.

*
Sleepy Cat was foaled in Whitewater, Colorado and was raised by Jack Casement, a prominent breeder of Quarter Horses and a most influential founder of the AQHA. Jack was involved with the AQHA from its earliest, most primitive beginnings. According to Volume 1 of the AQHA Stud Book and Registry, it was the dream of the late William Anson (Christoval, Texas) to record the origin and attributes of the Quarter Horse breed, and it is a well-known fact that Dan Casement of Manhattan, Kansas also “contributed to the general store of knowledge concerning these horses.” However, it remained an “untouched field” until the writings of Jack Casement (son to Dan), and Robert M. Denhardt of College Station, Texas, “drew the spotlight of public attention to the Quarter Horse.” Their articles to various magazines “found a surprising response among breeders and users of Quarter Horses throughout the west.”

*
Subsequent to this, the first serious discussion of a Quarter Horse organization was held in 1939. An informal meeting that included Denhardt among others, “formed the nucleus of an ever-increasing group of Quarter Horse enthusiasts and on behalf of this group a general invitation was extended to all interested parties for a meeting to be held in Fort Worth on March 15th, 1940, during the annual Fat Stock Show.”

*
On March 14, 1940, a preliminary meeting was held where both Dan and Jack attended and agreed to help with the preliminary work involved in the “foaling of such an organization.” After the official meeting was adjourned on the eve of the following day, it was reconvened as the first meeting of the American Quarter Horse Association and both Casements were elected to the newly appointed board of directors – Dan as an Honorary Vice President and Jack as a Director.

*
Back to Sleepy Cat. Jac and Allie Streeter were the sons of Harry and Mary Streeter. The Streeters had purchased the land that would become the “Streeter Outfit” in 1919, near Willow Creek, Alberta. It had previously belonged to James Ford. Harry was a long time aficionado of horses and can be credited with the production of one of the first indoor rodeos in Canada which he put on in 1929 at the Stavely, Alberta, skating rink. Additionally, he often held two-day rodeos on their ranch during the 1930s. Harry then turned to racehorses in the 1940s – Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Quarter Horses – and owned one of the largest racing stables in western Canada until he passed away in 1949. Harry’s sons had purchased the ranch from him in 1946.

*
Both Jac and Allie followed closely in their father’s footsteps and were excellent horsemen. When they found out the good horse, Sleepy Cat, was at Jack Casement’s place, they jumped in a truck and brought him home to Stavely. Both the paternal and maternal sides of Sleepy Cat’s pedigree could be traced to the Steel Dust legacy and the stallion would offer much to the Streeter breeding operation. Steel Dust was a Quarter Horse “type” foaled in 1843 who attracted much attention in the southwestern states as a sire of running and cow horses. Sleepy Cat inherited the fabled Steel Dust profile – the smooth and compact shape, short back and deep barrel – without falling heir to Steel Dust’s single flaw, a bulging jaw. Sleepy Cat’s head was more refined and charming, and he possessed a mind and temperament to match. He had “an ideal disposition – mild and tractable as a breeding or working animal and highly intelligent.”

*
Sleepy Cat earned equal credentials in the show pen as he did as a sire. At the 1945 Calgary Stampede, he was declared Champion Rope Horse  – winning on the same day Jac and Alice Smith were married. Sleepy Cat won many laurels over the years, appearing in numerous cutting contests and roping events. He was sire to at least 200 foals during the course of his life in Alberta and was often used for the breeding of Campbell mares in the Ad Day Quarter Horse operation, owned at the time by Alf Campbell of Alberta. The Herald Magazine credits this mating as that “…which brought the Quarter Horse Industry back to life in Alberta and established it in the almost fabulous manner we know today.”

herald-mag-nov-28-1959-web
Sleepy Cat was held in such high esteem as a sire that often he was claimed as the sire, or grandsire of horses who never so much as nickered “over the fence to him.” Of some 200 foals, only 28 were ever registered with the AQHA and all are now deceased. However, of those 28 horses was Black Gnat, a black gelding owned by Coy and Casement of Buffalo, Wyoming. Black Gnat was the only documented performing offspring of Sleepy Cat and achieved his Open Performance Register of Merit in 1952. Many of the other listed registered horses were owned by Streeters or Campbells. Sleepy Cat was known to ranchers as a “solid gentleman,” and often stood to outside mares, so it’s likely the rest of his foals exceeded in ranch duties, cow horse and roping events and were scattered across western Canada.

*
In July of 1959, the much-loved stallion passed away quietly at age 22 in 
Streeter’s pasture. Gone but never to be forgotten, the horse’s epilogue would read, “undoubtedly it was Sleepy Cat and his offspring which stimulated the first [Canadian] interest and activity in the Quarter Horse business…”

A Tale of Mistaken Identity

By Jenn Webster

Taylored-Revolution

As the date of April 9, 2013, approached, owners Janice and Jack Hepburn of Cochrane, Alberta, waited with anticipation. The days passed. April 10th became April 22nd and still, no foal for their beautiful palomino mare, Miss Chexy Whiz, better known as “Chexy”.

Rewind to 2012.

Chexy had been bred via artificial insemination to the 2004 sorrel stallion, Lokota Chic with the help of a professional veterinarian. Her last breeding date was recorded as May 2, 2012. The Hepburns were ecstatic that their mare was pregnant and upon their return from the vet clinic, they put Chexy out to pasture with a couple of their older geldings and a younger stud colt, yet to be gelded. All was well on their little acreage, with the prospect of a new foal to arrive in the spring.

Fast forward to 2013.

In preparation of Chexy’s foaling, she was brought into a stall each evening in April and Jack began the midnight hour checks on the mare. As the days continued to go by, the Hepburns couldn’t understand why the foal’s grand entry into the world was taking so long. They decided to borrow a FoAlert birth monitoring system from a friend, so Jack was no longer required to go out to the barn in the middle of the night.

“I called our vet and discussed our concerns about Chexy. He confirmed that the due date was April 9, 2013, but since she has never foaled before we had nothing to which we could compare this pregnancy. My mare was healthy and all seemed fine,” relayed Janice.

All the Hepburns could do was wait. Yet, as the middle of May approached they became increasingly concerned for the health of their mare and foal in utero.

Janice researched what she could about other broodmares in similar situations and discovered that it was possible for some mares to be pregnant longer than 11 months.

“We continued to bring her in at night and finally, the signs were becoming obvious that Chexy was nearing the end of her pregnancy. We could see her sides moving as the foal kicked and moved around. Chexy began waxing up.”

On May 21, 2013, the Hepburns left Chexy in the barn on a cold and rainy afternoon for two hours, so they could visit a friend. When they returned, they found a beautiful buckskin filly aside the mare, standing, dry and nursing. Both horses appeared healthy.

“We were so happy that things went well, especially because our records indicated that Chexy had been in foal for over a year!” said Janice.

“I plastered Facebook with baby pics and talked to the stallion owner and of course, we were all excited that everything had turned out fine.”

The players in this wacky tale of mistaken identity, Taylored Revolution (bay) stands in front of Miss Chexy Whiz.

The players in this wacky tale of mistaken identity, Taylored Revolution (bay) stands in front of Miss Chexy Whiz.

With a darling little buckskin filly running in their pasture alongside her dam, the Hepburns never gave the foal’s lineage another thought. Janice pulled hairs to submit for DNA testing, picked out a few name choices and filled out all the necessary paperwork to get her registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

“We were waiting for her papers. And waiting. And waiting,” chuckled Janice.

Finally she picked up the phone to contact the AQHA directly.

“I spoke to someone in the DNA department who told me that sire of this foal was not Lokota Chic but instead – Taylored Revolution,” Janice recalled.

The news hit her like a ton of bricks, for this was the registered name of the year-and-a-half-old stud colt which had been pastured with her pregnant mare, and long since been gelded. She tried to wrap her head around what the DNA agent was saying.

“Taylored Revolution was a gelding… I said to her, ‘AQHA has made a mistake. There is no way this could happen. My mare was pregnant when we brought her home…’”

Janice could hardly believe her ears. She kept repeating the word “impossible” to the agent.

To which the agent politely replied, “DNA does not lie, Ma’am.”

“After several minutes of listening to her, telling me that DNA does not lie, and yes, ‘Your stud at a year-and-a-half bred your mare…’ I had to believe her.”

The agent suggested that Janice look at the dates of when her stallion, Taylored Revolution, had been gelded. She gently reminded Janice that he had been in the same pasture as Chexy. And for further proof, the agent checked with a color specialist who said a sorrel (Lokota Chic) and a palomino (Chexy) could not produce a buckskin.

“I never knew that!” laughed Janice.

“She said a palomino and a bay (Taylored Revolution), however, could produce a buckskin. I never knew that either!”

"We have hopes that she will be a reining horse that I can show one day. She has the bloodlines." - Janice Hepburn

“We have hopes that she will be a reining horse that I can show one day. She has the bloodlines.” – Janice Hepburn

When Janice called her vet to explain what had happened, he immediately said, “Well that explains why the foaling dates were wrong!”

Janice and her veterinarian have determined that Chexy had been in foal when she came home from the clinic. However, they figure that she absorbed the pregnancy and came into her cycle again approximately 20 days later. On approximately June 15, 2012, Chexy was bred by the Hepburn’s then stallion, who was only one-and-half-years-old at the time.

“When we took Chexy into the vet to confirm the pregnancy as per our contract, she was indeed in foal. But not to Lokota Chic,” Janice said.

And since the breeding to Lokota Chic had been via artificial insemination, the AQHA required the resulting foal to be DNA-tested.

“There are so many lessons I have learned as a result of all this. Thank-goodness for DNA testing! Tough lesson to be learned, but what a lesson to remember!” she quipped.

“My sister-in-law asked me if I still liked our filly, now that we knew she was something different than what we expected. I told her, ‘I liked her yesterday when I thought I knew who her sire was and I like her today, now that I know who her sire really is.’

“It still amazes me that this happened. I just shake my head! We are so thrilled that we have a beautiful buckskin filly with great bloodlines. We couldn’t have planned this any better even if we tried to,” Janice expressed.

As a result, the Hepburns will have to redo the filly’s AQHA paperwork – since Janice was actually the owner of the stallion at the time of breeding. The date and type of breeding on the papers will have to be amended. Plus, the filly’s registered name will have to be changed.

“I have changed it to Taylored Made Whiz. I think it’s kind of cute and appropriate,” Janice smiled.

Taylored Revolution is now in training with Wendy Nelson and his owners are hopeful he will make it to the futurity show arena this year.

Taylored Revolution is now in training with Wendy Nelson and his owners are hopeful he will make it to the futurity show arena this year.

Know Your Breeding Contract

Stallion-and-mare

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.

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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.

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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!

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.

EQUINE-REPRO ULTRASOUNDING – A PREGNANCY STORY
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.

IMAGING FOR THE FUTURE
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

Ultrasound-lead-in

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 give you a better understanding of estrus and diestrus. Or in other words – what it means when a mare is in heat, or not. I will explain what hormones are cycling through the mare’s system in each phase and offer a description of the image that appears on ultrasound imaging as a result.

 

This mare has an inactive follicle, small in size.

Picture #1 – This mare has an inactive follicle, small in size.

PICTURE #1

What is happening: Diestrus. The mare is not in heat. Diestrus means the mare will reject the advances of a stallion during this 14-16 day period in the estrous cycle.
What it means: High progesterone – luteal phase.
Image on Ultrasound: A homogenous dense tissue is seen while scanning uterine horns and body. The uterus is toned. Often, a follicle may be seen in the ovary however, it is inactive if there is no presence of edema in the uterus and therefore, progesterone. It is also possible for several follicles to be observed on the ovary – as the mare approaches estrus (heat), one follicle will become dominant and the others will regress.

 

The endometrial folds seen during estrus as alternating non-echogenic and echogenic structures.

Picture #2 – The endometrial folds seen during estrus as alternating non-echogenic and echogenic structures.

PICTURE #2

What is happening: Estrus. The mare is in heat and there is a presence of uterine edema. Estrus means the mare will accept the advances of a stallion during this period of follicular growth.
What it means: Low progesterone and high estrogen.
Image on Ultrasound: Visible as a “sand dollar” or “orange slice” image in the uterus. This image occurs because of the characteristics of the uterusʼ changes at this time. The uterus has several endometrial folds that increase the surface area of the endometrium. During estrus, these folds become filled with fluid, giving the area the appearance of an orange slice.

Sorry, no photo :(

What is happening: Follicular presence on the ovary that is increasing in size over the estrus period.
What it means: An active follicle is producing estrogen and causes edema in the uterus. The mare is approaching ovulation.
Image on Ultrasound: The best prediction of when ovulation will occur is follicular size and luckily, the preovulatory follicle in the horse is the largest of all domestic species (40-50 mm). Since the ovarian follicle is also filled with a clear non-echogenic fluid, this makes a follicle very easy to see with ultrasonography. The follicular wall may increase in thickness or the follicle may also change from a spherical shape, to more of a
triangular or “tear drop” shape as the mare gets closer to ovulating. It can also feel softer, rather than hard and toned, as ovulation becomes imminent.

Sorry, no photo :(

What is happening: The ruptured/ovulated follicle on the ovary develops into a corpus hemorrahagicum (CH) or a corpus luteum (CL).
What it means: The mare has ovulated.
Image on Ultrasound: A CH looks similar to a follicle on an ultrasound however, there will be specs or a hemorrhage of blood in this follicle. It has a black center (because it has clear fluid running through it) and the specs of blood will look like spider webs or have a “lacy” appearance running through the center (as blood reflects the ultrasound waves).

Sorry, no photo :(
What is happening: A corpus luteum (CL) develops on an ovary.
What it means: The mare has ovulated. A CL produces progesterone, which holds a pregnancy until day 37 of gestation. After this time, the endometrial cups on the conceptus cause the mareʼs system to recognize the pregnancy.
Image on Ultrasound: A dense, bright white structure appears on the ovary. The center of the corpus luteum is completely filled in, making it highly echogenic. 50 per cent of all ovulations result in a corpus hemorrahagicum and the other 50 per cent result in a corpus luteum. Both mean the mare has ovulated and there is no difference in pregnancy rate between ovulations resulting in CH or CL.
* If the mare is not pregnant, the cycle starts over and the follicular cycle repeats itself.

When My Stable Life returns, we’ll observe the early stages in a typical equine pregnancy and follow along with a follicle.

 

Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

An ultrasound machine. Pic by Jenn Webster

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 like Rachel in the episode of Friends, following her own ultrasound exam? You know, the old episode depicting Rachelʼs frustration when she was unable to see her own pregnancy on the ultrasound monitor… yet all her friends could pick it out without a problem?

If you ever felt the same way while having your vet ultrasound your mare for breeding, keep reading. Ultrasonography is a complex procedure that uses sound vibrations with an ultrasonic frequency, for medical imaging. But when the ultrasound process is broken down, it isnʼt as difficult to understand, nor are its resulting images confusing to view. Ultrasonography is particularly beneficial for monitoring a mareʼs cycle, ovarian or uterine disease and pregnancy.

If you have a craving to better understand what your vet is explaining about your mareʼs cycle and perhaps her subsequent pregnancy, this two-part article will explain how ultrasonography works and why it is beneficial for equine reproduction. Plus you can also follow the growth of a follicle in a typical pregnancy along, through the use of ultrasound imaging.

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Anatomy of an ultrasound machine.

Anatomy of an ultrasound machine.

1. Transducer – usually a flat piece, connected by a long cord, placed directly on/in the
horseʼs body in the area intended for ultrasonographic imaging.
2. Pulser
3. Timer
4. TV echo display
5. Receiver
6. Digital scan converter

HOW IT WORKS:
Sound waves are created by electrical stimulation of crystals in the transducer. When trying to determine where a mare is at in terms of her cycle or pregnancy, because of the sheer size of the horse, the transducer is placed inside the mareʼs rectum directly overtop of the reproductive tract. When the electric current is applied to crystals in the transducer, vibrations are produced that result in sound waves.

These waves are then spread through the horseʼs tissue and some of them are reflected back to the transducer. (The number of reflected sound waves is directly proportional to the density of the horseʼs tissue). The reflected waves are converted to electrical impulses and displayed on a screen (most often, a black and white monitor).

The reflected waves are represented on the screen by shades of gray, extending from black to white. Fluid is a great transmitter for sound waves, therefore, liquid structures such as follicular fluid or yolk sac fluid within the horseʼs body appear black on the screen. Dense tissue in the body reflect most of the ultrasonic beam and appear white on the screen – these structures include the cervix and pelvis. Other tissues appear in varying shades of gray, depending on their ability to reflect sound waves. Air and gas are poor propagators of the signals, which is why the vet must maintain a close contact between the transducer and the examined tissue.

Modern ultrasound machines used for examining the reproductive tract are “B-Mode”, real time scanners. B-mode means “brightness modality” and the imaging from these machines results in a two-dimensional display of dots of the screen. The brightness of the dots is proportional to the amplitude of the returning echoes. And the real time imaging means a “live” or moving display of the echoes that are being recorded, can be seen.

Although there are two types of ultrasound transducers used for reproductive exams in horses, typically, our vets use linear-array transducers. Linear array means there is a side-by-side arrangement of the rectangular crystals, along the length of the transducer. The transducer is positioned in the longitudinal plane of the mareʼs body, which means images of the cervix and the uterine body are longitudinally oriented while the uterine horns are cross sectional. Tissues that are closest to the transducer can be seen at the top of the ultrasound screen.

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ANATOMY OF THE MAREʼS GENITAL TRACT

Anatomy
The red lines on this diagram represent typical linear array transducer orientations, over the genital tract during an exam. When the transducer is over the cervix and uterine body (1), a lengthwise (longitudinal) image is produced. The uterine horn is generally seen in short-axis cross-section (2), which allows assessment of the endometrial folds. Sections through the ovary show follicles and Corpus luteums cut in different planes (3).

The bifurcation of the uterus. This is where the uterus is “Y” shaped and branches off into the left and right horns, from the single uterine body.

The bifurcation of the uterus. This is where the uterus is “Y” shaped and branches off into the left and right horns, from the single uterine body.

 

The right ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

The right ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

 

The left ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

The left ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

DEFINITIONS
Echogenic – if an item is echogenic, it will appear white on the ultrasound screen. Dense tissues reflect most of the ultrasonic beam.
Non-echogenic – if an item is non-echogenic, it will appear black on the ultrasound screen. Fluid and liquid containing structures are excellent transmitters of sound waves.
Estrous Cycle – the repetitive sequence of hormonal cycling that prepares the mare for conception. It may be divided into estrus (follicular phase – 5 to 7 days)) and diestrus (luteal phase – 14 to 16 days.)
Conceptus – the embryo in the uterus, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.

Stay tuned to My Stable Life to follow a follicle along in ultrasound images, plus a pregnancy story in pictures! Thank-you to Dr. Tammi Roalstad of Scottsdale, AZ, for providing the ultrasound images and information used in this article.

AQHA Disease Panel Testing

DNA-testing-card

Anyone else receive this form from the AQHA lately in their mail?

It’s that time of year again. Before the mad rush of the Christmas season begins, it’s time for me to get all of my records in order with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Time to get the foals registered (before they become 7 months of age), time to ask questions for any of the straggling documents I’m still waiting to receive, and time to register all of the stallion breedings. November 30 is an important deadline for stallion owners as all AQHA stallion breeding reports and AQHA Incentive Fund stallion nomination forms must be postmarked on or before November 30, 2014 – or a late fee may be incurred.

Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com

Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com

 

One of the newest developments for Quarter Horse breeders in the last year has been that all stallions that bred 25 or more mares in 2014 are now required to have their five-panel disease test results on file, as per Rule REG108.5 in the 2014 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations. Going forward to 2015, all breeding stallions (regardless of how many mares they bred in 2015) must be tested.

A DNA Kit ready for submission, complete with a DNA sample.

A DNA Kit ready for submission, complete with a DNA sample.

Personally, I think this is a very welcome development in our industry. It helps owners and breeders make informed decisions. To facilitate this, AQHA offers a five-panel test for HYPP, PSSM1, MH, GBED and HERDA (also known as “The Big 5”). The test results will be public, available by request from AQHA and eventually will be printed on horses’ AQHA registration certificates.

And as we’ve seen in many stallion advertisements, if the results are “clean” owners are now proudly detailing the fact that they’ve had their horses tested and hanging the results out for everyone to see.

DNA testing may also be required of other horses depending upon the rules. Refer the AQHA Official Handbook for complete information or contact AQHA Customer Service at (806) 376-4811 for more information.

Panel testing for The Big 5 costs $85 US. A Panel test plus DNA test costs $105. Non-members can also have the test done on their horse(s) for $125.

Disease panel test kits can be ordered online at www.aqha.com/genetictesting.

To learn more about submitting online reports, visit www.aqha.com/sbr, and for questions concerning stallion breeding reports, contact sbr@aqha.org. AQHA customer service representatives are available until midnight November 30, to answer SBR questions.

I’m curious to see how the new ruling for stallions to be Disease Panel tested in 2015 will affect our breeding industry. As always, if you have any thoughts on the subject we welcome them in the comments section below.

– JW

Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo by Natalie Jackman of www.have-dog.com.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful ladies out there! If you’ve been following along to My Stable Life this week, you’ll know that because today is a special day, I have a big announcement to make – the winner of 2 tickets to Odysseo!

But first, in honor of today I have a few foal pictures I’d love to share with you, snapped by my friend Natalie Jackman of Have Dog Photography.

I hope all you Mother’s out there get a chance for some time in the sun with your kidlets. Perhaps you can delight in some flowers as well!

Photo by Natalie Jackman

Maybe your kids will take a nap, offering you the chance at some precious “Mommy Time.”

Photo

Since this is what life as a Mother looks like for me…

Photo

I awoke to the squeal of a smoke detector this morning. That was quickly followed by the beckon of a fire truck’s siren at my front door. I’m sure y’all with kids can relate…?

If not, you can most certainly connect to this. The constant, Mad-Dash to here and there:

Photo

Or there are days when you wanna pull your hair out, or let it down. Whichever comes first:

Mane-flying

And then there are the days that look like this:

061113-WE0133

Or better yet, this:

042114-WE4417

And while we all know not every moment is as tranquil as this:

Rosey-and-Charley

Whenever and wherever kids are concerned, hilarity usually ensues.

Laughing

“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest-salaried jobs … since the payment is pure love.” — Mildred B. Vermont

Together

Happy Mother’s Day! And oh yeah, the winner of 2 tickets to Odysseo? Congratulations Melissa Cockle! You will be seeing the fabulous 6D show in Calgary! Please contact editorial@westernhorsereview.com for details on receiving your prize.