Friday, February 25, 2011

And Then There Were Three

Phone calls in the middle of the night can be unnerving to some, but this time of year for breeding and foaling operations it is just part of life- and most of the time it means new life. Margaret checked in on our two mares, Snakey and Patty last night close to midnight and found two healthy happy new foals! We weren't too far off on our guesswork. We spent the morning getting everybody weighed and measured, stalls cleaned up, and getting our foals checked out. Before we knew what happened it was lunch time, and this afternoon things got organized for a test that will start on Monday. Busy Friday!! Pictures are of John holding Snakey with her 117 pound filly, and Patty is hanging out in her clean stall with her 120 pound filly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


When you work with horses surprise is never in short order. At the last check around midnight neither of the mares we suspected yesterday (Patty or Snakey) was looking much different, and this mare (Lucy) was just kind of hanging out. Lucy is actually the first one due based on a 340 day preganacy, but the other two have been showing more advanced signs of starting the foaling process. Lucy had her filly (107 pounds) at about 4:30 this morning, by 5:45 she was nursing well and fairly stable standing up. This afternoon we will check the foals IgG levels to ensure a good antibody transfer from mom in her colostrum. The filly's sire is Sixes Pick, owned by the 6666 Ranch in Texas. Lucy has been consuming Ultium Growth for the last couple months of her pregnancy, and will continue to consume it through her lactation. This little filly will start to consume Ultium Growth at about 28 days of age and will be raised on this diet up to 2 years of age, at which point she will be switched over to a diet appropriate for a mature horse. We measure growth on all of our foals while they develop. It is always a good idea to have your veterinarian check out the foal and the mare after birth even if everything appears OK, I like to have Dr. Williamson (our staff vet) come look things over and make any necessary recommendations that can help us out. The picture is Andrea saying hi to the new little one at about 3 hours of age. (sorry for the red eye!)

Stay tuned, there might be more fun tonight- you never know.............

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tonight Maybe!

Snakey is still holding onto her foal and not really showing us any signs of foaling for this evening, BUT another mare is! Patty has had some wax on her teats today and has been restless all afternoon. Tonight might be the night. The side view picture is Patty, and then I also included a picture of the wax on her teats. Wax can be an indicator of foaling, but is not a sure sign. Some mares can wax for days before foaling, and some will wax 24 hours prior to foaling. When you look at the overall picture of things she is telling us (wax, restlessness, relaxed musculature) chances appear to be good. We will check again later this evening to see how things progress!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Almost there!

I took a quick video this afternoon while we were looking over our pregnant mares. We like to look usually at least two times a day to note any small changes that might tell us that the foal is on it's way. This mares nickname is "Snakebite" (or snakey) her registered name is "Easy Pure Pride" and she is in foal to a stallion named "Sixes Country" this year. All of that wonderful snow we had last week is now gone and has been replaced by gooey clay! Of course all of the horses decided to take a roll in it and make themselves a total mess.

Looks like some job security to me!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Other Obsession(s)

Hi all. I know...Long time, no blog. I apologize for my absence.

Today I am working from home sidelined with a terrible late winter cold. No worries though because it is providing me with plenty of opportunity to indulge one of my other obsessions (besides horses) and that is sled dog racing. Before I came to work at Purina, I was fortunate enough to spend several years working with my husband doing exercise physiology research with sled dogs. These magnificent animals are capable of running over 100 miles per day indefinitely when properly fed and conditioned. The two most famous long distance sled dog races are the Iditarod (which occurs in early March) and the Yukon Quest (which is going on right now-check out ). Both races are over 1000 miles long and cover some of the most remote, beautiful and brutal wilderness left on earth. These amazing dogs which average 45-50 lbs. and are mixed breed (very few purebred Siberian Huskies or other northern breed dogs are competitive racers) can burn in excess of 12000 calories per day while running. Their metabolic capacity is roughly 4 times that of Lance Armstrong.

And they absolutely love what they do. There is nothing more thrilling than seeing a group of sled dogs getting ready to start a run. They are all barking and tugging and carrying on, but as soon as the driver (musher) says Alright! they are off in silence. I am including a video of this phenomenon in my post. This was taken about 3 years ago. The musher is Jon Little and we were located in Big Lake Alaska at Happy Trails Kennel owned by 4 time Iditarod champion Martin Buser. This beautiful kennel has an incredible view of Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) when the weather is cooperating and there are no clouds around the peak.

Sorry guys. The video I loaded may be too large to play. I am going to try to put it on You Tube and provide a link. Give me a few minutes....

I think I have it now...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Riding and Research

Well, I had a busy weekend as I took my horse Pizzaz to a dressage show in Wellington, FL. One of the greatest things about south Florida in the winter is the awesome show series for dressage riders and hunter/jumpers alike. And of course, there is the polo action which is fun too.

Our ride on Friday occured in the pouring rain and the footing was so deep and slippery in the warm up that we basically decided not to warm up and just go for it in the ring. I could not get him as collected as we needed to be in the test, but ended up winning our class (only 2 riders at that point) with a 60.5%. On Saturday, we scratched because it was still raining in the morning and the footing was so bad. On Sunday, we rallied for a 65% in Second Level Test 2 and won that class as well. The rain was quite a problem for the many riders in the CDI competition that were trying to get qualifying scores for the Pan Am Games- there was a lot of frustration, worry and upset as riders scratched due to abominable weather and had to withdraw from the competition.

On Saturday night, I went to the $150,000 Spy Coast Farm Jumper Grand Prix at WEF, where our Ambassador Laura Kraut won the competition on the magnificent Cedric! I just love this horse, how Laura just fell in love with him as a young horse and how he really POPS off the ground over every jump. He really has it all- talent, heart, an amazing partnership with his rider and of course, good feed!

I also found out early this morning that a scientific abstract I wrote for the Equine Science Society Meeting was accepted for our upcoming conference. The paper details the insulin sensitivity of our growing foals at the farm fed different diets for their first two years of life. This research helped to develop our new Ultium Growth formulation. Once the paper is published, I will direct you on how to find this info.
Enjoy the pics of my horse and the waterlogged show grounds!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting Closer....and Closer

The mares that we hauled down a couple of weeks ago are already starting to show some of the early signs of their impending parturition. I will be posting pictures throughout the next several weeks of what we watch for as indications of the beginning of the foaling process. (and of course the foals as they hit the ground!) This is one of our mares, she has had 5 other foals and is a great mom. Her due date is March 7, but you can tell by looking at her belly that she is close!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Horse Crazy 10-year-old (me)....can you relate?

It has been quite a while since I have posted, and I apologize! But I am back and aim to become an active contributor again!

This weekend, I came across something too good not to share. I was cleaning out my old closet at my parent's house and came across something I had totally forgotten about.

A little background....this letter was written to my parents when I was 10 years old. I had just "discovered" horses through a friend at school and had recently started taking riding lessons with her (I was a city girl and my parents knew nothing about horses). At the time, my parents only allowed me to take a riding lesson every other week because I was very busy with other activities (church activities, piano lessons, etc.). But all I wanted to do was be around the horses; everything else came second in my mind! I wrote this letter laying out my arguments for why they should let me take a riding lesson every 10-year-old logic of course!

Luckily, my parents gave in and let me take riding lessons more often. How could they not after reading this! Little did they know that their support of what they must have thought was a "passing phase" would turn into a life-long passion and fulfilling career for their daughter, who was not afraid to beg for something that she wanted so badly.

So, thanks Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Winter!

I don't know about the rest of you in the midwest, but I don't remember the last time we had a storm like this! We have had freezing rain/sleet for almost 24 hours now, there is thunder with the sleet, and we are supposed to get a massive amount of snow by tomorrow morning. We have tried to get as prepared as possible for being snowed in, the picture is Andrea feeding our Thoroughbred girls their afternoon hay in a couple of inches of sleet. Margaret will run checks later in the evening to make sure all of the horses are still doing OK. The barn crew always gets a smile out of the weather people with their recommendations of "do not venture out unless absolutely necessary" or "dangerous conditions outdoors" It doesn't matter what day it is, or what the weather is- if you have horses you better be ready to be out in the worst of it (and like it)! I can't wait to see how much fun we will have tomorrow.......