Archive for April, 2011

Dang It.

Vet came this morning to check on Dakota – not pregnant.  Darn. 

We’re going to try again; he’ll check her next week to see where she is in her cycle.


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What the…

OK, seriously, what the flip is up with the weather???

This scene greeted me upon exiting my house on the way out to breakfast.  Went to the barn this morning, and Dakota was standing outside the shelter (of course – it was raining; of course she’s outside).  She looked at me like, “Hey, Mom – thanks for scraping off all my warm winter hair.  That’s working out great.”

Gotta love New England.

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Picture Time

Just thought I’d throw in some gratuitous Dakota pictures.

Dakota posing (I’m convinced she knows what a camera is):


While waiting for the vet the other day, she was in a really cute mood. I let her roam around the indoor ring while I sat outside it. She would not leave me alone; kept nuzzling me and looking for attention. I finally just held up my iPhone and started taking pictures.

Sometimes she really cracks me up.

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Breeding Day!

 Wednesday April 13th – Breeding Day. 

Horses are bred using either live cover or artificial insemination.

  • Live cover – a mare, a stallion, a little light music.  Live cover means that the mare and stallion are bred the old fashioned way – with the addition of several people to make sure neither gets hurt.  And they can get hurt.  A number of calamities can occur during live cover breeding.  For the mare, this can include:  vulval separations, bite injuries or injuries from the stallion’s hooves, vaginal laceration or vaginal rupture (which can be fatal).  For the stallion, well, they can…um…fall off.  There’s also “false entry” by the stallion as a possibility, kicking injuries… 


  •  Artificial insemination has several different variants.  Some involve sedation or surgery; others involve a pipette and a syringe.  We went the non-surgical route.  This can be accomplished using either frozen or cooled semen, shipped to the mare’s location.  For Dakota and Gran Casso, we’re dealing with cooled.


Romantic, eh?

All went well with the breeding; I’ll spare you some of the gorier details.  Suffice it to say, it involved some poop, some surprised glances from Dakota towards her back end, and one very long glove.

Yes, that's what you think it is.

The plan was to breed her again the next day, but that got derailed by a slight complication – Dakota developed fluid in her uterus.  It’s not uncommon when breeding.  Dakota’s getting treated with some SMZs (Sulfamethoxazole – basically, it’s Bactrim) and Oxytocin (which is injected).  This means that the second breeding didn’t take place, but the vet thinks we’re in good shape.  He checked her again today, and there was much less fluid, so now all that remains is to wait two weeks until we see if the breeding took!  Stay tuned…

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The Checkups

Once we had signed the contract for breeding Dakota to Gran Casso, we needed to make sure that she was healthy enough for breeding.  That involved a manual exam and an ultrasound.  Yep, for those of you non-horsey people reading this, she got an ultrasound.  She handled it like a trooper, only dancing around a little when the vet was examining her (which involves him inserting an arm literally up to the shoulder – she’s a really big horse).

The good news – no reason to suspect breeding would be an issue.  The process from there involved checking her in the Spring to get an idea of when she’d be in season.  The original plan involved trailering her to the vet’s farm so that he could check her regularly until he knew the timing was right, then calling for the FedEx shipment of the semen. 

The next step involved figuring out how to convince my mare to get on a trailer – not her favorite thing to do.  Thanks to one of the other barn folks – Jill – for working with Dakota until the big scary trailer wasn’t quite so scary. 

As it turns out, though, when Dakota was checked last week, she looked to be coming into season.  When the vet came this past Monday, April 11th, we were sure she was.  Wednesday was set for breeding day – no trailering needed.   A quick email to Jenna at Split Mesquite, and we were just waiting for Wednesday!

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Dakota’s BabyDaddy

OK, so when we decided to breed Dakota, the first question was what to look for in a potential stallion.  I was hoping for a foal who would be a little lighter than Dakota, but keep her temperament. 

Dakota’s a full Belgian Draft, and though she’s great to ride (it’s a bit like riding a couch), she’s not the most athletic creature.  OK, I did take her over a very small cross rail which she apparently decided needed about three or four feet of clearance….when she jumps, she jumps BIG.  That being said, something a little lighter seemed in order.

But where do you find a stallion?  I decided to start simple, and headed over to Equine.com.  That worked pretty well, and I saw lots of possibilities.

Next step, live breeding, frozen, or cooled?  I decided to go with Artificial Insemination. 

Great.  Those two questions out of the way, I started browsing.  Came across some really handsome stallions.  My trainer had told me to look for something with a long neck to thin Dakota’s out a little bit (she has a huge, thick neck).  I got things narrowed down to a couple of Friesians, a Hanoverian, and a beautiful chestnut warmblood. 

Sharing the options with my trainer and the owner of the barn where Dakota is boarded, I discovered that we all came up with the same final choice – the Belgian Warmblood.

He was absolutely gorgeous, and had beautiful movement.  He also had sired some really knockout foals.  His name was Gran Casso, and within short order, we had decided to contact Split Mesquite Farm to inquire about booking.

Gran Casso (photo used with permission)
Gran Casso free-jumping (photo used with permission)

In short order, we had booked for breeding in 2011.  Dakota would be bred to Gran Casso for a 2012 foal.

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And So It Begins…

Welcome to The Dakota Diaries.  This blog is really intended as a chronicle for friends and family, but if you’re just passing by, welcome anyway!

On this blog, I’m going to be telling the tale of the breeding of my mare, and hopefully follow her through a healthy pregnancy and foaling.  I’ll be including any helpful hints, dos and don’ts, and other interesting tidbits I find along the way.

Who is Dakota?  Dakota is my Belgian draft mare.  She stands 17.2 hands high, with an approximate weight of 1750 lbs.  She’s not all that big for a Belgian, actually, but try telling that to a barn full of quarter horse owners!  The barn where she lives is a great place, filled with wonderful horses and nice people.  It’s a laid back sort of farm, with an indoor and outdoor ring, 24/7 turnout available, and a great view of the northwest CT countryside. 

Dakota’s got one of the nicest temperaments I’ve ever seen in a horse.  She’s the culmination of a lifelong dream of a horse of my own.  Took me 40+ years, but hey, I got there. 

Be patient with me while I get all of the bells and whistles working on the site, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the story as it unfolds.

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