Ah, the week of Picnic Day. It was definitely one of the busiest weeks of the internship.
We started the morning in our stud manager meeting. We decided to do our first Picnic Day practice, and get Stockings and Dun out to do our first live cover demonstration practice. Although we called it a "live cover", what we actually did for the demonstration was collect Dun off of a mare. Since hundreds of people cannot fit into our breeding shed, and we have no movable phantom to collect off of, we do it off of a mare. This is a Horse Barn Picnic Day tradition that has been going on for some number of years.
Our first practice, was, well, necessary. Stockings had been on ECP (Estradiol) injections for about a week, and was supposed to be in strong enough standing heat to deal with the stallion mounting her. But, she wasn't. To be fair, it was her first time being mounted by a stallion most likely ever, so it was probably very alarming. It was all of our first time in each role we were assigned, which also made things very nerve-filled. I was the stallion handler, Julia the mare handler, Jake the collector, and Anthony the hygiene-er and deflector. We were all a bit nervous and not sure what to expect. (I am speaking for everyone under assumption, because I think I might have been the only one verbally to say I was worried about the process.)
We did our practice in the arena since that is where the Picnic Day demo is held. The other stud managers prepped Stockings and I stayed back with Kelli to get Dun and bring him out. When we got to the barn aisle closest to the arena, Dun was already dropped and ready. I am sure he remembers from previous years what he gets to do for Picnic Day! We walked out into the arena, and he was a good boy, of course. For hygiene, he was very antsy, but that was to be expected. Once Dun was hygiened and all the stud managers and Kelli said they were ready, I began to approach the back of the mare with Dun. My first fatal mistake = I started to jog Dun up to the mare. That is what we do in the breeding shed when approaching the phantom, so I just took what I had learned there and applied it to the situation I was in. My second mistake was since I was letting him jog, I wasn't checking him back to make sure he didn't mount too early. Because of both of those things, Dun came on to Stockings too quickly and too early and Stockings went flying forward, bucking straight through Julia's restraint, and broke the breeding hobbles she was wearing. Thank goodness nobody, the horses or any of us, were hurt!
At this point, it was about 10 minutes until 11AM, and I had class at 11. We needed a Dun collection to be shipped out for a client. Originally, we planned to use the collection off the mare as our shipment, but since we weren't successful we took Dun into the breeding shed. Stockings went into the tease shoot and seemed very interested in Dun once we were in the breeding shed. Winking her vulva, urinating, etc. Dun was very riled up since he hadn't been collected off the mare just previously, so we quickly got a collection from him, I put him away, and then I had to run to class. Jake and the other managers stayed behind to make up the doses and ship them out.
Later that afternoon, I found out that I would be attending the second half of Mule Days instead of the first. I started to think that maybe I should ask Kelli about joining the intercollegiate pack team that competes the second half of the week, since I knew they were in need of a fourth member.
Tuesday morning I spent all of my time cleaning stalls. A. Lot. Of. Stalls. I had to do a majority of the mare motel as well as all of the stallion stalls. That took me a good couple of hours prior to going to class.
After class, I met up with Jake and Julia to ride Protege. Jake didn't lunge him on Monday, but I expected him to be good. Mostly because he has always been a doll for me. He came out of the barn fully erect, belly tapping, and dripping pre-ejaculate. Several of my barn mates were at the barn and were watching, and Kelli came out to the arena too. I asked Kelli if I should go ahead and ride him or what I should do, because he was already proving to be a challenge on the ground for Jake and I. Kelli said that this behavior wasn't uncommon for him and that he would be fine.
It was probably the most terrible ride I have ever had - mostly because we weren't able to have it end on a good note. I left the barn with an aching leg, a bruised ego, and definitely just feeling deflated overall. I fell off of him five times total, four of them because of rears.
Due to Protege's behavior, the boys collected Protege Wednesday morning to see if that would help lower his libido. I feel like that might increase it, since a performance stallion in any discipline I have ever heard of does not do collections/breedings while he is in show season. Jake and Anthony said Pro was well behaved for the collection though, so that was good!
In our stallion manager meeting, since we still were lacking hobbles to practice the live cover again, we went over how the artificial insemination demo would go. We didn't do much since Izzy was the one doing the AI demo, but we got to listen to what would happen, and Izzy practiced on one of the mares.
To prep for Picnic Day, much needed to be done around the facility obviously, so after class ended at 4, I came back to the barn to continue cleaning pens since there were a lot left to be cleaned. Kelli was out power washing the outside of the barn, and came over to join me in cleaning pens after I had been cleaning for awhile. I had texted her earlier about possibly joining the Pack Team, and she wanted to talk in person about it. We chatted about the team while we cleaned the pen and she told me she would love if I would be the fourth member. So I officially became the final member of the UC Davis Intercollegiate Pack Team!
Thursday morning, our ANS 127 class (Advanced Equine Reproduction) met at the barn. The stallion managers (Well, Jake and I), were responsible for collecting for class since Anthony wasn't comfortable doing so and Julia was not around the barn since she isn't in ANS 127. We used Handsome since Dun had other collection commitments for Picnic Day practice. I handled and Jake collected. I had collected Handsome previously, but it was my first time handling him. He is a lot of horse compared to Dun, and way stronger. He was really amped, but still took four mounts before finally collecting. He was dragging me all over. After my fall(s) off of Protege, I was still a bit gimpy and just didn't have the strength to check him back as hard as I needed to before approaching the phantom. After two jumps, Kelli joined us and was trying to put pressure on the base of his penis to see if that would make him ejaculate. The third jump was unsuccessful, but we refilled the AV and added more lubricant, and the fourth mount/jump we got a successful collection.
After class was over, we bathed Protege, Dun, and Stockings. Protege was a handful getting into the wash racks and dragged me over the the yearlings, and then tried to drag me on the other side of the barn over to the mares. I don't know what I would have done if I was alone so I was glad Kelli and Jake were there to help me. It was probably the worst handling experience on the ground I had had with Protege - I don't understand what has gotten into him. Maybe my experiences up to this week had been beginner's luck.
Later in the evening, we practiced the live cover demo. We got a new pair of hobbles that seem nicer than our previous pair. Stockings continued to get ECP throughout the week, so she was in much stronger standing heat. Kelli also gave her a little higher dose of sedative to relax her more than she was on Monday. This practice went *much* better! I knew I shouldn't run up behind Stockings, and Kelli was the one handling Stockings so she was able to keep Stockings quite still. She pivoted so she was facing the bleachers (instead of being perpendicular to the bleachers), but aside from that the collection went well. I need to continue working on checking Dun back before he gets to the mare, but he was a gentleman and we all did really well.
We teased the mares, and for the first time ever, Pfluffy displayed strong standing heat when exposed to Dun. :( I was bummed, because that means her body is under the influence of estrogen, not progesterone, and that means that she most likely did not conceive an embryo.
I began Friday morning by raking around most of the facility, and then went to class. While I was in class, Pfluffy was ultrasounded and she did not conceive. Since Kelli wants to sell warmblood foals as weanlings, not yearlings, she decided that it was too late in the breeding season to try to rebreed her. She will be open for the coming year, but I hope that next year she will get bred to Landkonig and have a fancy foal arrive in 2020. Maybe by then I can afford a second horse. ;)
Friday afternoon we practiced an entire run through of the Picnic Day demo. It was our best practice so far, and Julia was handling Stockings this time! Dun was a total gentleman, and I got down checking him back before he mounted Stockings. Picnic Day will still be really wild in front of a crowd (that is mostly drunk), but I feel much more confident about it now.
I wish I could write about everything that happened on Picnic Day, but honestly it was just a busy blur. I talked to a lot of really nice people who were interested in me, the Horse Barn program, and UC Davis, and I got to talk a lot about Protege and the 2018 foal crop.
Our breeding demo was popular and packed - I think there were at least 500 people watching. Dun looked awesome and behaved for me even better. Stockings was a gem, and dealt perfectly with Dun mounting her. I have my own ethical view points about doing this demo in front of such a large crowd when it isn't something our horses even do ever, except for during this demo, but it went as well as possible and I was really pleased with that.
I slept well Saturday night, but woke up Sunday to texts from the Sunday morning feeder that our mare Bills had foaled a small filly overnight without anybody on foal watch. Thank goodness, it was a successful delivery with a health foal and mare.