Thursday, October 29, 2009

Horseman's saying: Breed the best to the best and hope for the best...

Bonny and Conbrio - 2008

This year has been quite the adventure in breeding - or, rather, attempting to breed - our Welsh Cob mare, Bonny (her full registered name is actually Juglans Canvas Danver). Because the Welsh breed is listed as vulnerable on the Canadian Livestock Conservation list, we wanted to see if we could do our bit to preserve her excellent bloodlines by breeding her to one of the top Welsh cob stallions in North America.

It turns out that North Forks Brenin Cardi not only fits the bill but lives not that far away - near Olympia, WA. I had met Cardi in person at the Golden State Dressage Festival earlier in the year and fell hook, line, and sinker for this handsome, athletic, and gentle boy.

Cardi is a great example of the Welsh breed, which comes in four sizes (designated by letter according to size). Both Bonny and Cardi are in Section D, which means they are taller than 13.2hh. The cross would have been a great one, except that Bonny has  been decidedly uncooperative in the breeding department. Let me rephrase that - she has been quite cooperative in the breeding department, just not willing to conceive.

We've tried shipping semen from WA to our farm (THAT was an experience, let me tell you - Fed-Ex LOST our paperwork somewhere en route and the semen wound up sitting around for a very long time before it finally arrived here and could be inseminated by our vet...). Then we tried shipping Bonny to Cardi - where, on several heat cycles over several months she was inseminated at a vet clinic in WA not far from Cardi's farm. She even met him personally so the vet could try live cover. AI only has about a 50% success rate, whereas live cover produces a pregnancy about 70-80% of the time.

Anyway, after months of trying, Bonny was inseminated one last time and we brought her home last week. Yesterday, our vet (Dr. Danica Olenick of Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital) came out to do the ultrasound to check whether or not that last effort was successful.

In order to get close enough to the uterus to see anything, the ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum... Alas, the results yesterday were inconclusive. Dr. Olenick is pretty sure that the bubble of fluid she detected was just a uterine cyst - but to be totally sure, she'll come back next week to see if there have been any changes. If the suspected cyst actually grows and develops, we'll know it's actually an embryo. Most likely, though, all our efforts at breeding this year will have been for nothing! Very frustrating. Very expensive. And, very disappointing.

As for the foal at the top of the page, that's Dark Creek Conbrio, Bonny's 2008 foal. She's half Welsh Cob and half Gypsy cob, sired by Fair Isle Gypsy Fiddler.

We are delighted to have her (even more so after the trials and tribulations of this past breeding season) and have high hopes for her as an all around riding pony.

In this photo she's three weeks old. Now 18 months old, she's quite full of herself, as many teenagers tend to be, and nearly as tall as her mother!

Each week we give away a copy of a book - this week our prize is a copy of Razor's Edge by Nikki Tate (yes, that would be me). This is my new one and is loosely related to the theme - it does revolve around horses! A mystery for teens set in the world of Standardbred racing, Razor's Edge was actually inspired by a bizarre crime that happened to Fiddler. In the middle of the night, thieves entered Fiddler's paddock and lopped off his tail! Horse tail thievery happens every now and then and to my mind seems such a strange crime, certainly worthy of inclusion in a novel. To have your name entered into the draw for the book prize all you have to do is send us an email at allpointswest[at]

Missed the segment live? No problem - give Amanda at the CBC a day or two and then check the All Points West website for a link to the archived segment.

Note: If you are reading this on Facebook, you can get back to the rest of the Dark Creek Blog by clicking here.  

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