For Melbourne Cup competitor Americain “this will be his last Melbourne Cup campaign and then he will deservedly retire“, in all likelihood to become a breeding stallion.
Helped along by a little modern-day science, I assumed this would mean a life of electrically-induced sperm production. But no. According to the Australian Thoroughbred Breeders club,
“All major international thoroughbred stud books refuse to admit horses conceived by artificial insemination.”
Instead, a day in the life of Americain post-November-6-2012 might go a little something like this, as explained by ‘horsey woman” Rachael Gowland in a Guardian article:
In the breeding season, the stallion’s sex life runs like clockwork.
“He has a timetable,” she explains.
“He comes at 7 o’clock in the morning, noon, four o’clock in the afternoon, eight o’clock at night and if we’re desperate for space [in the schedule] midnight. But he has to have a space in between. We try not to give them five coverings a day unless we can help it. That’s hard work for the stallion, and for the staff.”
The sex scene is chaotic and very public: there may be a teaser stallion in the shed, whose job is to get the mare excited; the mare herself; her foal, sometimes penned, sometimes just held; the stallion; handlers for all the horses; and sometimes the mare’s owner and family looking on from a raised area. “Some people like to make a day of it,” says Gowland drily.
Most coverings will impregnate the mare first time, but sometimes they will need a few goes. Also, since everything depends on when the mare is ovulating, lots of slots need to be left free to allow for flexibility in the schedule.
Crikey. Think I’d rather run a horse race.
Off to buy a fascinator, hoo roo.
[photo under Creative Commons licence thanks to here]