Just when I thought we were busy, we got busier! Prepping for UC Davis Field Day was overwhelming but very rewarding.
I guess before getting into my breakdown of the week, I should explain what Field Day is. (I sure as heck didn't know - I didn't grow up in a community with FFA or 4-H!) Field Day is an event hosted by the UC Davis that is open to FFA and 4-H high school students from California and surrounding states. The students come to Davis to compete in 26 different agriculturally based judging contests - one of which happens to be horses. The UC Davis Horse Barn hosts for the Light Horse Judging portion of the competition. The classes we had this year included: Western Pleasure, Reining, Quarter Horse Yearling, Quarter Horse Mare, Thoroughbred Mare, and Paint Mare.
Monday morning was filled with chores, and Kelli palpated Sadie and Rockville, both of which have large follicles and are ready to be bred. We plan to breed them Tuesday morning. In the afternoon during our stallion manager meeting, we practiced palpations with the ultrasound probe. I finally found both ovaries in our teaching mare, Bars. She is a relatively easy mare to palpate, but I was still really excited to have found my first pair of ovaries!
We decided not to breed our mare Yellow on this ovulation, since the stallion we will be breeding her to will be coming in to be managed in mid to late March. (More information on Yellow in my week 7 blog post)
For the first time since the internship began, I was able to see how the field of equine reproduction can be quite unpredictable. We planned to breed our two mares; however, the semen extender that was supposed to be delivered was not, so we have to rescan the mares Wednesday morning and then breed, if the extender has been delivered and if the mares have not ovulated yet.
I ended up spending the morning helping to hot walk the mares to prepare them for Field Day. Sadie was a handful, but the rest of the mares were well behaved for the most part. The remainder of the day consisted of various chores around the barn that didn't involve horses, but a lot of cleaning to get the barn looking good.
Our extender arrived!
I was finally available for a Protege collection, and got to collect him for the first time. My skill level and confidence felt greatly improved from the first time I collected Dun, which was relieving because I was not sure how I was going to feel moving forward collection to collection.
Protege was really impressive on Wednesday because for the first time since we have been collecting him, he did not need a tease mare in the breeding shed and was ready to mount the phantom within a few minutes. I collected 65mL of ejaculate, which is much better than the first time, too, when I dropped more than half of it! I know he isn't my donkey or anything, but I was very proud of Protege after this collection and happy that he was so well behaved.
The reason why we collected Protege this time, you ask? For our mares - Sadie and Rockville! They are both going to be making mule babes. Following the collection, we pulled Sadie and Rockville out, and both had not yet ovulated. We got to go through the exciting process of learning how to make a breeding dose, hygiene a mare, and then perform artificial insemination. Jake bred Rockville and I bred Sadie with our cooled semen from Protege. I was so excited the rest of the day (week) that I was able to breed my first mare!
Here is a photograph of the tube that had the Protege breeding dose in it, with Sadie in the background.
We will continue to scan them each day until they ovulate, and if they haven't ovulated by Friday, we will breed them again.
I spent the afternoon doing some more chores as well as teasing mares with Anthony. Since it was Thursday, I didn't spend much time at the barn, but we did scan the two mares again and neither one ovulated.
The busiest day of the week! (Except Field Day of course) We started the morning with another Protege collection, but this time for a client. Instead of collecting this time, I was able to handle Protege for the first time. I was very nervous and quite worried, but I really should not have been. Protege was a very good boy and gentle in the breeding shed. I brought him in, and again he didn't need a tease mare! We were all really pleased. He had to mount the phantom twice, but both times he went to the phantom when I asked him to, not when he wanted to. The second time, he was especially in tune with me and turned his head and looked at me before I took him over.
After putting Protege away, we made our breeding doses and put together our first shipment. Kelli left to take it to UPS, and we continued to make breeding doses to keep for our mares.
We had quite the list of chores to get done before Field Day, so in between class and other commitments we all worked hard to prepare everything so it would be as perfect as possible. After getting the facility ready, we worked on the horses. Every horse had their legs washed and their tails, since it was a muddy mess outside. Once we finished grooming all of the horses, the yearlings were brought out to be washed and groomed.
While the foal interns were working on the yearlings, we scanned our mares again and Sadie was bred once more since she had still not ovulated, but Rockville had quite a large amount of uterine fluid. Kelli decided to do a uterine lavage to get the fluid out of her uterus, but her cervix was so open and relaxed that the balloon catheter would not stay in place and it was not a successful lavage. Since the fluid remained in place, we decided we would have to wait and give her oxytocin overnight to kick it out, and breed her again after Field Day was over.
Field Day, Field Day, Field Day. We started at the barn at 5AM. We re-groomed, we blew out the barn, hosed down the stocks, raked everywhere that needed to be raked, and cleaned all the stalls.
The event started at 8AM with Western Pleasure and Reining. After those two classes, it moved onto the halter classes, quarter horse mares, quarter horse yearlings, thoroughbred mares, and paint mares. I had Spins for the quarter horse class and Tiztuff for the thoroughbred class. The riding classes were a bit tough, but the halter classes went as smooth as possible. No babies or thoroughbreds got loose!
After the classes concluded the day was just getting started really. We had a lunch break, lunch was provided which was nice, and we got to have a meeting with the judge so he could tell us how he placed each class. The second half of the day all of the interns had to listen to "reasons". Four of the classes from the morning (Western Pleasure, Reining, Quarter Horse Mares, and Thoroughbred Mares) were reasons classes. That means that the FFA students had to judge the classes themselves with valid reasoning, and then formally present those reasons to a judge. (AKA one of us!) We judged them not off of their correctness of placings, but more off of their confidence and their ability to present in an organized fashion. Having never had experienced such a thing, it was an interesting experience. Some of the kids were very impressive and very proficient at public speaking. I know there is no way I would have been able to do that in high school!
At the very end of the day we presented awards to the best students and teams, and after that the students all started to head home. Interns stayed to help feed dinner as a group, but stud managers broke off with Kelli to scan Sadie and Rockville. Both mares had ovulated, but both had uterine fluid, so we gave them oxytocin injections every 4 hours over Saturday night. Since they were both bred prior to ovulation, they will both be checked for pregnancy in two weeks (3/16). I feel like it is pretty unlikely that Rockville will have conveived anything, but fingers crossed for an embryo. Two Protege babies in the making!