Saturday, July 26, 2008

Will you stay in a Lover's Story?

I'm very happy to announce my 15 year old Polish Arabian mare, Fantastyk Gal is officially in foal to Kakhem Sahib. Yay!!!

It has been a very long and rocky road since the Arabian Nationals last October, when I found the flyer advertising Kakhem Sahib, Reserve Champion working cow horse and son of Khemosabi. I met the stallion's owner, saw the stallion, and signed the breeding contract. Annie has never been bred before, so I had originally planned on taking her to their breeding farm in Colorado and letting her be bred there.

Except that I wasn't able to get her trailer trained over the winter and this spring, when she needed to go, she still wasn't loading. I tried patience (hours of sitting with her at the trailer, pulling, pushing, ground driving, backing up, and even using night time- I'd heard horses feel safer trying new things in the dark. I left the truck and trailer in the arena for three days with the doors open and food inside. I did not feed Annie at all, but it didn't make any difference. She'd rather starve. Then I put my other horses out with her and she watched them climb in and out of the trailer. Frustrated, I was ready to call it all off. I talked to the breeder and my local vet and we all agreed artficial insemination was the best alternative to live cover. However, I still couldn't take her to the Vet's office just 10 minutes away. So, the Doctor gave me the name of a horse trainer, Mark. He came out and after two hours, got her loaded! He used panels and a whip and pretty much forced her in. He was patient and kind to her but showed her that it wasn't so bad in the trailer by making it uncomfortable outside of the trailer. He tapped her rump with the whip until she went forward. After scrunching all her feet into the space of a "dime" for a while, she leaped inside. He came back for two more lessons until she was loading better. Basically, all she really needed was forward motion and a direct route in.

Annie had a terrible experience 10 years ago and has never left the ranch since. The day we bought her she refused to load. She kept rearing at the entrance of the trailer. Once she reared up and hit her head hard in the doorway. Another few rears and she fell over backwards when the lead snapped. With help we eventually pushed her in, but I seriously thought we'd killed her. She bled from her nose for two days. She also had a concussion. She healed though, and except for a slight lump on her forehead, appeared fine, but the scars ran deep. This was one of the reasons she has never been bred. She has always been my horse of unfulfilled dreams.

After Mark's lessons, I was ready to take her to the Veterinarian for an examination. I brought along Nadia for companionship. She's an easy loader and very calm. I used the panel and the long line threaded through the metal ring at the inside front of the trailer like Mark had shown me and after a few rears and hesitations, Annie loaded! My knees shook and I cried from relief. I quickly loaded Nadia and off we went. Then, for the first time in my life I drove a loaded horse trailer. My husband always drove it in the past. At the veterinarian's office Annie was surprisingly calm with her new surroundings but she refused to go into the clinic because of the low doorway. She received a sedative and with the help of the two assistants who pushed her in with a butt rope, we got her in the stocks. She was good for the exam but she was not near ready to breed.

I had to bring her back the next weekend. Again I had no one to help me load her and even though I used the panel, she completely refused. She was rearing a lot and I was ready to quit and then my cell phone rang. It was Mark asking me how things were going with loading her. I asked if he could come right over because I was going to miss my appointment. He said he could and did, so I called the clinic and told them I'd be late and they said that was okay. So like a godsend, he loaded her, I got Nadia in, and off I went. At the vet's she was given a sedative again so after the check up I immediately loaded her, with help from the girls there. Still no activity in her cycle.

A few days later, I thought she might be showing signs of heat so I took her in, but nope, nothing.

I took her the next week and the Doctor said she had a persistant CL or false pregnancy. So I had to give her a shot and come back a week later. I've never given shots to anyone before even though I've seen them given to horses lots of times. I even made my non-horse husband give shots to a horse we had that developed bronchitis and required daily shots of penicillin. He also gave our horses their annual booster shots. But I don't have him around anymore so with my daughter in attendance for moral support, I did it!

Six days later, things were looking good. I called the breeder and told them we were ready for the shipped semen. Julie was ready for my call and collected some right away from Khemo and Fed Exed it to the vet's office for next day delivery. The vet said Annie needed another shot that evening. I couldn't be home- school and work, so my daughter, Sheila and neighbor, Lisa did the deed. Sheila actually, with Lisa there for moral support. That second person is so important to help calm horse and person! They gave her the shot and then the next day Lisa, Sheila, and I took her in for breeding.

Lisa and I took her again the following day for another breeding. This time, Annie actually neighed to Nadia who was already loaded, (Nadia always comes along for the ride) put her head down and climbed into the trailer like an old pro. Success!!

After waiting 2 weeks, Lisa and I took her in this morning and there is an embryo growing!!

It's the small dot in the big black spot (uterus).

The doctor's finger is pointing to the embryo.

Thanks, Lisa, for all the moral support and wonderful photos!


Gecko said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. =)

I found your post really interesting. I'm doing a foaling course at the moment, and I done a breeding module last year, and they taught us the clinical stuff...but not what actually happens 'behind the scenes'. I'd love to breed my mare one day (probably won't happen) but I wouldn't know where to start. Great blog! =)

the7msn said...

Congratulations, Val! You've been on such a roller coaster with this mare...what a feeling it must be to be coasting downhill for awhile. I wish you and Fantastyk Gal smooth sailing for the next 11 months.

Twinville said...

You're SO welcome! It's been a great 'ride' so far.

Congratulations Val & Annie!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That's quite a story. I'll bet the struggle is making the success all that much sweeter.