disappointing learning process

Cierra's breeding window has closed. We had one last related vet appointment to recheck her, just incase. She is confirmed, not pregnant. 

It was a long disappointing learning process. Brad is guaranteed a live foal, but we couldn't even get past the breeding stage. Much to my surprise, he has already decided to try to breed Cierra again next year. He will be reviewing his AI contract and contacting the standing facility to go over details etc.

Moving forward, our vet suggests having Cierra bred for an early foal. 
He said we are set up for it, and feels our odds will be better. He would like her "under lights" in December, so her cycle will be regulated earlier. The plan would be to breed her in February. I am not sure if Brad will decide to keep Cierra home. I sure hope so, and I know he wants to. If so, we may need to make some additional adjustments to our barn. Not sure. It needs to be figured out. Maybe leaving the barn lights on 24/7 is enough, or it might require adding a (heat?) lamp to her stall. 

The vet tech chimed in, saying Cierra wasn't the only mare they re-bred multiple times that did not get pregnant this season. It is nice to know we are not the only ones, but it didn't really make me feel a whole lot better.

It was question time: I asked about infertility testing. The vet said it can/can't be done. They can take a tiny forceps sample of her uterus to send off for testing. However, even if those results comes back favorable a mares fallopian tubes could still be blocked. There is no way of knowing or test/equipment that reveals blockage.

I felt stupid asking my next question, but it turned out to be a valid one. I asked if we are getting less quality semen, because the stud is in demand? I mean, if they are constantly collecting... He said potentially, yes. There was one time for sure, where the semen they sent us did not look good. It was very watery/diluted. You get what you get. He feels it is better to get on the collection schedule earlier.

Our vet added, sometimes a stud and mare just don't match up for whatever reason. They have had cases where the stud was switched, and then the mare got pregnant.

When our vet collects from studs, they do two vials for a second day of breeding. That increases chances of catching ovulation at the right time. Apparently this standing facility doesn't automatically send double doses. Brad will be asking about the possibility. The vet said there are two schools of thought, and vets are pretty much split down the middle. 50% think one dose is all you need and the mare either gets pregnant or not. The other half, thinks a second breeding increases your chances. The latter makes sense to me.


2021 breeding timeline:
Feb 3: Cierra moves to heated barn

April 6 Check productive heat

April 8: first breeding

April 9: Uterine Lavage. I didn't blog about this, and don't know much about it. They found excess fluid in Cierra's uterus at her first breeding. Fluid was removed the next day. They said it is unrelated to her ability to get pregnant. 

April 27: not pregnant and Cierra comes home

April 29: second breeding and pregnancy check. Cierra had ovulated early. 

May 18: third breeding and pregnancy check. Cierra had ovulated early, again.

June 5: fourth breeding

June 23: not pregnant

July 7: still not pregnant (this post)

I wanted to recap my related breeding blog posts in one place. Note; some pregnancy checks were combined in the linked blog post. The dates correspond with breeding, not actual recheck dates. I hope for everyones sake, breeding goes better in 2022!!

A lot of people ask if Brad will show her this year, 
since Cierra isn't bred. He will not. That would hardly be fair, as you can see she is not in show condition. Cierra will continue to enjoy being a horse, at home with her herd. Brad will start riding her again, so she stays fit. 

Nom Nomm
"I may or may not be eating these weeds"

July 9, 2021


Grey Horse Matters said...

Well not only is it disappointing but I’m sure it’s expensive too. I wish you luck next year with all this. For now Cierra is a happy girl, being with her herd and munching grass all day. It’s a good life.

Linda said...

Your breeding journey feels a lot like our foaling journey, full of unknowns. I’m glad you asked those questions. Half of what we do is detective work, and the vets have so many other horses to think about. I wish there were easy answers for you and me both. An early foal will have challenges, but Mother Nature throws curve balls. I’m not sure which is worse, extreme cold or extreme heat. If you have a way to heat the barn, you’re probably better with the cold. When you do get a foal, and I’m sure you will, you will appreciate it deeply. They are gifts from heaven. There is nothing like raising a foal; good and bad, it is a privilege.

Shirley said...

Breeding by AI is tough, and depends on the expertise of vets and the honesty of the stallion owner.
They may have used a semen extender that didn't agree with your mare, or have diluted it too much, or it may have been too long between collection and insemination.
As far as ovulating early- that is why I start teasing mares a week before they are due to come in heat. When they are ready (ovulating) they will squat and pee, and every mare is different. It might be a good idea to watch Cierra around the geldings for the remainder of the summer and see if you can get a reading on how long her cycle is. She may cycle between 21 and 28 days instead of 28+ days.
I think trying for early breeding is a good idea, as the stallion may have better quality semen early in the year. Here is a good how-to article on putting a mare under lights: http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/Documents/learnmares4-breed-lights-2009.pdf
I'm sure Cierra will enjoy just being a trail horse for a while and that Brad (and maybe you?) will enjoy riding her.

aurora said...

Thank you, for being on this journey with me/us! We always look forward to each of your comments. Your support and advice, is so helpful.

Who knows why Cierra didn't get pregnant, when sooo many things factor in! I can rationalize some of the failed AI attempts, but not all of them. Mainly the failed attempts where she ovulated early (at 20 days) then scheduling was adjusted, and she ovulated even earlier at 19 days. You only know what you know, and now we know. She ovulates early.

Not sure why that wasn't figured out earlier, or if/why it would change early in the season. I asked if it could have anything to do with moving her home, the vet said no.

The facility standing the stud is reputable (Oklahoma Equine Reproductive Center). We trust that our seasoned vets are guiding us the best they can, within rules and given collection schedule limitations. I do think the facility schedule adds to the challenge.

We already have a good start, to a better breeding plan for next year. I think. In the meantime, we plan to watch/track when Cierra is in heat much closer. Some signs are easier to read then others.

Thank you for the article Shirley!! Looking forward to reading it and learning more.

Val Ewing said...

I am of no help with her breeding mystery. Just know that I do understand the disappointment factor.

She is a beauty of a mare and will no doubt eventually bless you all with a foal!


aurora said...

Thanks Val! I hope so...