Oocytes and Upgrades

Is there any point in saying “last week was busy” anymore? Let us just assume that all weeks are busy until proven otherwise. Right now at least I am listening to the glorious sound of RAIN on my roof (and ok, some thunder rattling the house) for the first time in forever. The horses are stuck inside for the day, which is more work for me, but boy does the ground and the grass ever need the moisture. I am certainly far less excited about the freezing temps and frozen precip that they’re projecting for later this week though. I swear to god ERCOT, if you do me dirty again we’re gonna throw hands. They’re projecting almost the same energy usage as last year’s event, but… please no. No more Little House on the Prairie experiences for me thanks. I cannot.

In better news, Gemma got a major pen upgrade. She’s supposed to be on small paddock/quiet turnout or stall rest, and since we didn’t know her temperament when we got her, we went with a pretty small pen, about the size of a double stall. She’s proven herself to be quite sensible though and I wanted her to have a bit more room to walk around and get her blood/gut moving, so we moved all the round pen panels (what a fun task THAT is) out to the front pasture to give her a corner out there that’s more the size of a true small paddock.

Still too small for her to build up any speed or get running, but enough for her to move around a bit more easily, and about 4-5x bigger than the pen before. That corner is also basically the only place left on the property at this point with green grass, and I’m pretty sure she barely lifted her head once yesterday. Far more interested in stuffing her face than anything else. That front pasture has a 3 slot shed in it, so we set her pen up to include one of the slots, and then Henry and Quinnie have the rest of that pasture and the other two slots. So she can still see them at all times, and everyone has access to shelter if need be (although they don’t get to go out there today because lightning is a big no thanks for me).

Moving horses to new turnouts is always fun (insert human sarcasm) and the low 30’s temps yesterday morning made it even better. When they’re turned out in the middle pasture I just let Henry and Quinnie out of their stalls and they walk out themselves, and then I would lead Gemma to her pen. But to get to the front pasture we have to go around the house, which requires leading them a ways away. And with 3 horses if you take them individually you end up leaving someone alone somewhere at some point, which is pure chaos fuel, so I opted to just lead them all out together.

Jurassic World — “Blue, stand down. Delta, I see you, back up....
me trying to lead all 3 of these morons but with halters and lead ropes attached

Quinnie, on the right, pranced and snorted the entire way out. Henry, in the middle, kept trying to weave around one or the other mares and bite them on the butt. Gemma, on my left, kept looking around to try to find what the hell Quinnie was snorting about while also trying to stay far enough away to dodge Henry’s teeth. Once I got them all in the pasture and turned around and shut the gate, I let Quinnie go first. She cantered a few circles but then settled down to eat. I waited a minute and then let Henry go. Which was… something. He ran, he leaped, he snorted like a wild Arabian stallion in a Disney movie, he bucked, he farted. For a 15yo horse that gets ridden a lot it was pretty impressive.

I was still holding Gemma, waiting for Henry to settle so I could walk her past them and over to her paddock. To her immense credit, she didn’t even flinch the whole time Henry performed his various theatrics. She just stood there grazing, quietly watching him act a fool. Smart girl. Once Henry and Quinnie settled down I took Gemma over and let her go. She wandered one slow lap of her perimeter, then immediately started stuffing her face. Not even so much as a snort. Best behaved horse of the day award goes to the 5yo fresh of the track mare that’s been on rest for a month.

Since Henry was so batshit he got to go for a long gallop with Hillary yesterday, which I think he needed. He came back much less full of himself, at least. And Hillary’s pics came in from the schooling jumper rounds the previous weekend… how friggin CUTE are these two?

She’s always hard on herself and critical, I think we all are, but in all actuality she’s figuring him out so quickly, and he seems to really enjoy having a new person to manipulate, er, torment, er, teach things to. I think it’s working out well for all of us. It makes me very happy to see my best boy teaching someone else, she’s getting to do some bigger stuff and stay sharp while Lex is away at training, and Henry has got her so very thoroughly wrapped around his little hoof at this point that his cookie quota has basically quadrupled. Plus he gets to lash someone else in the eyeball with his tail along with all the various other “cool tricks” in his repertoire. Perks all around. Hopefully they’ll get to leave the start box together at some point soon, if the weather ever cooperates.

If he looks extremely smug in his BEMER it’s because he absolutely fucking is

Let’s see, what else has happened in the past week… oh yeah, Grace update! When we last left off I had taken her up to the breeding specialist’s clinic early because I had a hunch that she was getting ready to start cycling. My hunch was correct – she indeed was starting her transitional cycle, and they were able to collect 15 oocytes from her for ICSI (there’s a video explaining ICSI here if you’re unfamiliar with the process, or here’s an article with the basics). 15 is quite a good number, higher than average, and of those they had 10 that were viable enough to inject with the sperm… average is 5-7. Getting in there on the transitional cycle often yields a higher amount like that, so the timing was superb. Now we wait to see how many grow into viable embryos! They average about 30% typically, so we’ll see. Would be great if we could get 3 to transplant into recipients and have a better shot at getting actual live foal(s).

And who was the lucky suitor to provide said swimmers?

Ireland-based stallion Jackaroo, who is 96% TB and full brother to very successful 5* horses Mandiba and High Kingdom. His pedigree is impeccable for eventing, and putting the Master Imp xx/Chair Lift xx lines on a Q/Cavalier Royale/Clover Hill mare is an extremely proven and very Irish nick. Jackaroo himself doesn’t have a lot of foals on the ground yet, but the ones he does have look promising as youngsters. I think this could potentially be a very good match. Fingers crossed for a baby or three!

On the subject of mares, I also added a new design to the Barn Dog store this weekend. Couldn’t resist. I’m quite enjoying being a mare owner again finally, in case you couldn’t tell. I mean I feel like in spirit Henry definitely counts as a mare, but, ya know. Not officially.

And last but not least, my top 10 songs of January, because I always seem to find common ground with someone over music. Did the Loveless cover of Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever just come out a week ago? Yes. Was it still my most listened to song of the month because I’ve had it on repeat since it came out? Also yes.

Hope everyone had a good weekend! Happy Monday?

9 thoughts on “Oocytes and Upgrades

  1. I don’t know any mare more deserving of her owner wearing that sweatshirt than my Coco! She started our lesson last Thursday as a proper hunter princess and ended it as a saddle bronc prospect. Leave it to a mare to reverse the order of that performance list.
    Yay for Gemma babies! Is that the stud y’all had in mind when you acquired her because it seems like a match made in heaven.
    Also, I ordered a Bemer. I blame you and Hillary and broken Simon. 😉


    1. Her behavior changed very slightly from normal (a little more squealy and reactive), and one of the times she touched noses with Gemma over the fence she did a tiny squirt/wink. The transitional period isn’t always great for breeding them to carry but it’s great for collecting more oocytes for ICSI.


  2. I love that you’re doing ICSI! I am looking into doing some embryo transfer this upcoming breeding season or the next, I had a really awful experience with my mare carrying and don’t wish to relive that. I worked at an ET facility for some time but ICSI was not something I had even heard of until the past few years. What made you choose ICSI over traditional ET? Was it the fact that you tend to get more embryos in one shot?

    I also love seeing Henry and Hillary having so much fun together and am happy that your new mare has settled in so well.


    1. We were going to try ET anyway so figured ICSI might be worth a shot early in the season to see if we could get a few more chances a little more quickly. They were able to make 100 ICSI doses from one dose of semen, so that was kind of cool!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In an ideal world where everything goes perfectly from beginning to foaling, about what does ICSI cost? I swore I’d never try breeding again, but Coco is actually going really well now and I’m feeling a hankering to get a baby out of her, but we have to use a recip mare bc she can’t deliver.


        1. Depends, of course. 😂 Depends on if the semen is already an ICSI dose or if it has to be made into ICSI doses. Depends on how many oocytes you get from the mare, how good they are, and how many actually result in an embryo. could be several, could be none. Depends on whether or not said embryo(s) actually take in the recipient mare. Best case scenario, not much more than regular ET. Worst case scenario… well, you know how breeding goes.


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