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.