Friday, March 15, 2013

Back to The Shed ~ Snow Flurry at Darley

Travel along with Lindsay Hunter as she makes another trip back to Darley, this time for a visit to Street Boss.

Snow Flurry at Darley 3.13.13

We’re starting to feel like spring is being kept from us. The daffodils bloom yellow in little pockets along Paris Pike, tucked into the bases of newly constructed stone walls, or sprouting between the cracks of the original Irish built sections in the median . It is midday, and as the sun gloomily struggles to peek through the clouds, big fluffy snowflakes swirl through the air.
I’m off to Darley again, this time for the 1.30 pm breeding session. It has been researched and determined that the stallions’ semen volume and strength decreases by half on every subsequent breeding in the same 24 hour period. Most breeding farms like to give their stallions a four hour break between breedings, Darley has opted for six hours between sessions.
Lots of traffic on New Circle Road, but as we exit onto Versailles Road and turn left onto Man O War, the cars thin out a bit. Turn right on Parkers Mill behind the Airport, and a tight left onto Bowman Mill between Mill Ridge Farm and Darley, swoop down the hill and over the narrow one lane dip, and we’re turning into the breeding shed entrance.
Just four mares are on the afternoon sheet, are there is Joe, wrapped up warm in coveralls and woolly hat, topped off with the Darley blue jacket, coming to take the papers. All the mares are here, and my mare goes in stall #1, She is upset, pushy, leaving her first foal for the first time, and she paces the stall, letting the teaser know that she is on edge. He nibbles and licks, cajoling her gently into showing her readiness to be bred. A good teaser is indispensable, and worth his weight in gold. The veterinarian has declared it optimum time, but taking a mare away from home and her foal, can change her demeanor. Slowly she settles down, but the decision to have the teaser ‘jump’ her prior to breeding, is made by Joe.
The teaser, muddy from a roll in the paddock, is already suited up for the job, and Joe takes him into the shed to test the mare’s reaction. She does fine, and they send for the stallion.
Yesterday it was Street Cry I came to visit, today it is Street Boss, his fastest son.
A chestnut, well made with a strong sloping shoulder and big length of hip, Street Boss saunters into the shed. I am up in the observation room, which with it’s heater running wide open ,is considerably warmer than down in the breeding area.. The two wide plate glass windows allow a view of the breeding. Street Boss is a little unsure of this fidgety mare, and they decide to give her a little tranquilizer to relax her. He sniffs her tail, still undecided.
With encouragement from his handler, he agrees to breed the mare. It’s a little like “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink “, but Street Boss consents to play along, and the pretty chestnut mare is covered. An extra dose from the dismount sample, tail bandage removed, and we are headed for the trailer. Anxiously she loads up, perhaps realizing that I will whisk her home to her foal. Reunited back at the farm , the foal circles suspiciously to check that it really is her mother, and then latches on hungrily to the milk bar, frothy white milk dripping from her whiskery lips. The mare settles immediately, and drops her head to the hay.
Pulling back onto Paris Pike, it is still blowing snow, and I look for the yellow daffodils that promise springs isn’t too many days ahead.

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