I am SO excited it’s September! AND it has rained about 4.5″ here this week! I think we were officially in a drought, so the rain is AMAZING. I can’t wait to see how good the grass looks in about a week. There is more rain in the forecast, but I don’t think we will have Flash Flood Warnings again next week!
While we were preparing the stall for the arrival of the Chincoteague Ponies this week Caviar decided it would be a fun time to climb the stall barrier and hang out on the stall walls. She was up there for a few hours and took a nap even! Cats are so silly.
Kitty exploring on stall walls. Like the high beam for cats?!
There was much cleaning to be done to prepare for Gene’s co-owner to come stay for the weekend in anticipation of his arrival. Red Rock Linda wasn’t much help with the vacuuming and mopping.
That is one VERY sleepy hound!
We had SO much fun with Gene for a couple days! Gene’s co-owner’s kids spent lots of time in the stall with the foals feeding them by hand. Chincoteague foal owners recommend spending lots of time in their stalls feeding and hanging out with them to get them accustomed to being around people. And, of course, there is a special bond between the foals and children.
Gene being sweet!
After all the rain this week it was fun to see a rainbow!
A beautiful morning rainbow on the farm.
We still get fair amount of erosion after heavy rains so I like to check the fencing in the back pasture to be sure that the dirt hasn’t pushed down or through any of the fencing. The dogs always like to come along to help test the perimeter (LILYBET!).
Dickens helping to check fencing while Chivas looks for snacks.
We are very much looking forward to the long weekend. Lots of pony and horse time will be had as well as some farm projects. Have a GREAT weekend!
Our story left off with our pony being purchased and a semblance of a plan was coming together to get him home to Texas. It has been nearly two weeks now and Gene is currently hanging out at Stoney Creek Chincoteagues with a few of his island buddies. We are so grateful to have connected with Tipson and Allison to care for Gene and give him some time to mature a bit and acclimate to life not on the islands with his Mom.
A lovely photo of Gene with his Mom (Lefty’s Checkmark) at the Carnival site in Chincoteague from photographer Nicole Menta.
While he’s in the care of Stoney Creek Chincoteagues he will learn to wear a halter, eat commercial feed, socialise with humans and (hopefully) be taught to be led or halter trained. Right now he lives in a stall with a few other Chincoteague foals and it appears he’s one of the bigger foals right now. Gene’s co-owner has done some research and it turns out that Gene’s dam and his sire are two of the taller ponies on the islands, which we are VERY excited about since I’m 5’8′ and his co-owner is a bit taller than me so hopefully we will both be able to ride him when he’s full grown.
Gene with one of his stall buddies.
I purchased the book Your Chincoteague Pony Foal’s First Year to help prepare for Gene’s arrival in Texas, which is projected to be at the very end of August or beginning of September. I’ve brought along plenty of foals, but wanted to be sure I was prepared for a feral pony foal who will undoubtedly have some different needs than a domestic horse foal. One of the primary things is that Gene will need some pelleted milk based feed for a couple months. Since he was weaned from his dam at only three months he will need a bit of extra milk nutrition. When he gets closer to six months old he’ll start getting a commercial foal feed and phase out the milk based pellets.
We also plan to keep him isolated from my other horses (and pony and donkey) for at least 14 days. He will only have had one round of vaccinations due to his age and he will have been exposed to some bacteria/viruses that my Texas equids haven’t been exposed to so this should assist everyone in staying healthy during Gene’s transition to Texas.
Gene in his stall yesterday with his same palomino buddy.
Last, but not least, we HAVE to tell you about Gene’s OFFICIAL registered name! Gene is registered with the Chincoteague Pedigree group as Ginuwine Lefty II. We have long been obsessed with the song “Pony” by Ginuwine. Now that we actually own a PONY and we got to name him ourselves, this was really inevitable! The rest of his name is derived from his dam (Lefty’s Checkmark) and his sire (Don Leonard Stud II). Had we gotten a filly, her barn name would have been Winnie, but since it’s a colt his barn name is Gene!
He’s SUCH a ham and he has some large ears. Hopefully he grows into those ears!
Boot City and I are prepping the barn and getting things together to prepare for Gene’s arrival. His trip from Pennsylvania to Texas should take 2-3 days and he will have a travel buddy and a roommate in Texas for a few days as another foal was purchased by an Oklahoma resident and will be making the trip west with him.
After our last visit to the repro vet I was advised to bring Coco back in two weeks to check for a heartbeat and confirm the pregnancy. This was my first weekend at home with nothing to do in WEEKS. Maybe even MONTHS! I hemmed and hawed a few times then texted my vet asking if today or May 30 was best. His sage advice was if she’d absorbed the embryo we could re-breed, so earlier was probably better. Le sigh. Out I went to hook up the trailer etc.
After some slight, but could have been major, trailer drama we were all loaded up (Jaguar, too!) and headed to the vet . Part of me was nervous. Coco had been backing up to Sterling a few times recently, which can be an indication of a cycle. She shouldn’t be having any cycles. She never lifted her tail or exhibited any other horsey-hussy behaviour, but after my last experience breeding I am not taking anything for granted.
I got Coco and her safety blanket (Jaguar) unloaded and in the stocks. I joked with Skeet (my vet) that Jaguar needed his teeth floated so maybe he could get that done while he was there. The backstory is that Jaguar has to be nearly dead to get his teeth floated (horse dentistry) and Skeet only does repro these days so has NO interest in Jaguar’s horrible behaviour and bad teeth! Skeet got Coco prepped with some slight sedation and inserted the ultrasound machine. This time I watched. It was easy to find the larger black dot. Yay! She is still preggers!
Coco’s Black Dot at 28 days
The large black dot is the inside of the placenta. The smaller white spot inside the black dot and to the right side of the black dot with the white string coming off is the embryo. I didn’t video, but inside the white dot you could see the heartbeat. This is a horse baby and I get that, but it was SO moving to see that teeny tiny heartbeat on the monitor. Nature really has a way of taking your breath away! Coco is safely pregnant with what appears to be a perfect, healthy foal.
Hopefully the rest of Coco’s gestation goes smoothly. We don’t have to go back to the vet for any more checkups, but I think we will go back one more time before they shut down for a few months. They are currently operating basically 24/7. Skeet responds to any and all of my texts almost immediately and the poor guy and his staff will get a much deserved break mid-July. Skeet has been my vet since 2008 when he started with ESMS and hadn’t yet specialized so having this experience with him as our vet has been fantastic. He’s known my horses and me for as long as I’ve had them, with the exception of Jaguar, and I truly believe that has been hugely beneficial in this process with Coco.
Coco’s official due date is March 19. My birthday. Her birthday is March 20 so it would be extra fun if the foal is born on one of those dates. This is assuming a 342 day gestation, which isn’t an exact science with horses. She could really foal anytime between 330 and 370 days and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Soon we will start posting belly pics!
In the horse breeding world there is a term, not really an official term, but when you say it others familiar with horse breeding know exactly what you are talking about. It’s called “the black dot”. We have a black dot here at the farm and we are pretty darn excited about our black dot.
A little background on how you get a black dot. You may recall a couple posts back I told everyone we were going to breed Coco Chanel. On Good Friday (how appropriate, right?!) I took Coco to the reproduction vet to leave her there until she is (hopefully) in foal. About ten days after I dropped her off I got a Facebook message from the stallion owner that she had shipped semen to the vet and would be sending me an invoice. I was so excited and really nervous all at the same time. You see, the last time I tried to breed a mare nothing went right. After two years, a lot of heartbreak and an obscene amount of money we threw in the towel on breeding Noelle and I purchased Coco as a weanling. I was only going to be cautiously optimistic this time.
The vet texted me a couple days after I paid the shipped semen invoice and said that Coco had been inseminated, she had ovulated and that I could come pick her up. So I loaded Jaguar in the trailer and headed to pick up Coco. Jaguar is her best friend and since she hasn’t ridden in the trailer all that much I thought she’d appreciate having a buddy. Coco was WILD when we went to get her out of her stall. The vet said she’d been that way the whole time she was there. Most of the breeding done at the repro vet I’m using are cutting and barrel racing horses so Quarter Horses. Coco was easily 6″ taller than any other mare in the barn and I’m sure she was also the feistiest. She hasn’t been in a stall for more than a couple days since she had a minor leg surgery a year ago, she justifiably had cabin fever! She still needed a little bit of coaxing to get in the trailer, but load she did and off she went to wait for her ultrasound in 14 days.
April 25 was exactly 14 days after her ovulation and also the day Sterling and I returned from our horse show. So, I unloaded Sterling, turned the trailer around, and loaded Coco to head south. It was a Sunday so no one else was there except employees. We walked around a bit while we waited for the vet to get back from checking stallions (I presume). Coco was well behaved and I was getting more and more anxious. After about 20 minutes the vet showed up and we headed into the breeding barn to find out what our next step would be.
Coco got a little sedative to make the experience a little less uncomfortable. We led her into the stocks and the vet prepped her for the ultrasound. If you are a human (and I would venture to guess you are if you are reading this blog) and you’ve had a baby you may be wondering how ultrasounds are done on horses. I didn’t take any photos, but the vet has to put his arm inside the mare into her reproductive parts while holding the ultrasound camera. And this my friends is where you find the black dot. He had a very serious look on his face the whole time, and quite frankly I think he was messing with me, but after just a minute or so he pulled his arm out, looked up from the computer screen, smiled and said “she’s pregnant”. YYYYIIIIPPPPPEEEE!!!!!!!!!
I was too nervous and didn’t want to be “that girl” so I didn’t take any pics of Coco’s black dot, but here is what a horse black dot looks like at 14 days gestation:
A horse embryo at 14 days. AKA The Black Dot.
So, now what? We wait a couple more weeks and head back to the vet to check for a heartbeat. At this stage of the game, statistics for a full term pregnancy are more in our favour than against us, but I’m not taking anything for granted! Coco is definitely eating more and her demeanour has changed somewhat. I’m looking forward to documenting the whole process and being able to look back on it when baby Cartier/Coco Chanel is all grown up and jumping jumps. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited about naming this designer foal, too.