In Review – by Laurie Maus, Hawk Hill Canadian Horses
Iron Horse Equine Reproduction Workshop
On July 17-19, 2004, Hawk Hill Farm hosted a three-day workshop on Equine Reproduction. Laurie Maus, Bob Garner, Marie Josee Proulx, Ron Pagé, Sherry Aldridge and Cheryl Beillard attended the course. Our instructor was Deb Ottier MSc. of Iron Horse Equine. Deb not only carried out research on equine reproduction at the Equine Research Centre, University of Guelph for both her Graduate studies and beyond, she has numerous years experience handling and training horses, often stallions, in various disciplines. Since leaving the Equine Research Centre, she has established Iron Horse Equine.
From the time she arrived on Friday night with her mobile laboratory (including her portable phantom mare) until she left on Tuesday, Deb was the consummate professional. Her instructions included video presentations, lectures and hands on training with ample opportunity for questions. While the formal instruction ended on schedule every day, discussions went on until the wee hours every night.
We trained two stallions for collection (Bromont Coco Alex – standing at CanaDream Farm and Hawk Hill Bandit Lucan – standing at Hawk Hill Farm). We, as well as the stallions, learned a great deal from Deb’s firm but calm way of handling the horses. In both cases, the stallions became progressively calmer throughout the day. As a result of this training, transported will be available from both these stallions starting in the 2005 breeding season.
We went from the breeding yard into the laboratory, learning how to process semen in a way to maximize survival of the sperm and thus maximize conception in the mare. We discussed extenders, antibiotics, shipping methods and containers. We collected each stallion three times over 12 hours and saw the effect of frequent collection on sperm count. We also looked at 24 and 48 hour survival.
The third day we studied artificial insemination in mares; again video, lecture and hands on with two of our (very tolerant) mares. We learned factors that affected fertility, timing and procedures.
Finally we went over equipment and facility requirements for both the mare owner and the stallion owner. We also learned how to be an informed mare owner and how, as a stallion owner, to work with your mare owners.
All in all it was an exhilarating, interesting and exhausting three days and we loved every minute. Would I recommend this workshop – absolutely? Would I recommend Iron Horse Equine and Deb Ottier – without a doubt?