Now for the big reveal of what I did with Quincy’s testicles.
Well, I thought it was a shame to just throw them out. I’m going to stop you right now, before you start thinking I had them preserved or something!!, but I did have something preserved. His sperm.
This is also why he had to be brought before the mare in heat, so we could have some tests on diseases run. Luckily his panel came back clean and I couldn’t be happier!
BECAUSE THIS MEANS I CAN ONE DAY BREED HIS BABIES!!!!
Little side note:
I spoke to multiple equine reproduction specialists about reasons for freezing sperm, ways of collecting sperm, chances of offsprings, medical reason to do this or not.
I basically spent 3 hours on the phone with four specialists.
Since I knew I was going to possibly buy a stallion, I wanted to be informed. I did not do this on impulse and would not have done it if Quincy had not impressed me with his amazing calm and levelheadedness. His bloodlines are good, bordering on great, his conformation is more than adequate and (most importantly to me) his character is golden.
I have to admit that what motivated me initially to consider doing this was the emotional idea of having a second generation foal one day. But if I had bought a deficient stallion, I wouldn’t have considered it further.
Responsible breeding first guys!
Tiny repro info:
So most of you probably know that horse semen can be frozen. This is super practical as you can then ship it and sell it worldwide/continent-wide. Most often this is done by sperm collection, this is when a stallion mounts an artificial mare and ejaculates, then the sperm is collected and frozen. This can be done numerous times throughout a stallion’s life.
But what I didn’t know, and probably a lot of you also didn’t know, is that a procedure exists without having to teach a stallion to mount.
Teaching a stallion to mount actually requires quite a lot of time, effort and money. I opted against this because I didn’t see the sense in teaching him something which—after all—could be labelled as a “bad habit” when he would never have to mount a mare again, exposing him to the breeding world was not something I had planned or wanted for him. I also did not want to invest more in his possible reproductive possibilities than I already was with the freezing and storing of his sperm.
So I opted for an epididymal sperm collection. This is when after castration the testes are taken, the sperm is collected from them and then frozen.
Here is a link to a very knowledgeable article on epididymal sperm collection with equines:
So one of my main questions when discussing this was how quickly his testicles could be gotten from his body to a facility where the sperm could be harvested and frozen.
This is partially why I opted to have him castrated at the Gent University Animal Hospital in Merelbeke. It is one of the biggest and best animal hospitals in the country, and the Reproduction Department is down the hall from the Operating Rooms.
When I was speaking to the University’s repro-specialist I jokingly said: “Well I hope you’ll be running down the hallways with his balls, cause otherwise, it’s on you!”.
She laughed and said: “Don’t worry I do my cardio!!”. And in effect, after his testicles were removed from his body, they were placed on a platter (check my instagram, there’s a picture of it), handed to her, and she did actually exit the OR at a rather fast paced trot!
Getting down to the nitty-gritty:
Quincy is nearly 11 years young and has never stood at stud.
What does that mean for his sperm? I giggled when the repro-specialist explained it to me.
Since he has never ejaculated in his life, those little swimmers have been swimming away in there for his entire life. Which *COULD* mean that they would be tired and kind of worn out.
So this would diminish the odds of his sperm surviving the freezing. She (and the other repro-specialists) laid out the percentages and explained it to me. I must say they were all very honest and open about the odds of it (not) working out in my favour.
You talking about my crown jewels?!
Since he had never stood at stud the odds of his sperm having high motility was brought down to 75%.
Since that sperm had to be frozen, which reduces the motility even more, the percentages of getting viable sperm out of the procedure dropped an additional 30%.
So this left me with 45% chances to retain viable sperm.
I weighed the costs and possible rewards, and decided after having gone over it with a knowledgeable friend to go for it.
So what came out of it? :
As those of you who saw the pictures of Quincy’s testicles know, they were quite large. And what does that mean?
Big balls = lots of sperm.
So I was very lucky. I knew the results of the sperm count and motility tests would only come in in the next few days.
Once again I had to exercise patience…..
NOT MY STRENGTH.
And then I got the call! The woman who was in charge of Quincy’s sperm is a very happy and peppy lady who also really helped me understand the odds and understand the procedure. I am very thankful to her.
So she called, and I picked up knowing the news I would get would be average at best. I was expecting low motility and bad quality.
WONDER ABOVE WONDER, his sperm was actually GREAT quality.
She herself was surprised at the quality and motility of his sperm. When she had explained everything to me she had also warned me that with an epididymal sperm collection the quantity would be very limited. What is in the testicles is what you get.
So imagine her and my surprise when she told me they had collected enough for 100 STRAWS! (straws are what the little storage units are called). Furthermore, the quality of the semen was very good. She unfroze one straw to test it, and was very very pleased with the results.
The sperm will be stored at the University itself, in the reproduction department.
So, I have 99 straws of healthy and happy (?) sperm.
And this means that I now have the option of breeding my boy, even though he is a gelding. You gotta love modern medicine and technology!
The repro-specialist told me that my chances for a foal would be at their best if I used 5-6 straws per insemination. So you do the math! I could maybe start my own stable! xD
When I was walking Q in the hallways of the university I bumped into her and because my ideal horse is a Spanish-Norman (talk about historical warhorses!!!), I asked her if they ever had coldblood broodmares.
Her response: “Oh, I have a Belgian draft stable’s number, I can have one here in a couple weeks! Great, we can get started RIGHT AWAY!”
My response: “HOLD YOUR HORSES!!!!”
Greetings from Belgium,